September 16, 2015

Florida Democrats target Miami and Hispanic vote, hire new outreach coordinator in Miami office

With Miami being Florida's political battleground and the Hispanic vote the key, the Florida Democratic Party announced Wednesday that it is ramping up its outreach efforts and has hired Sheyla Asencios to serve as deputy political director in charge of Hispanic outreach based in Miami.

Asencio, 29, donor relations coordinator for the University of Miami’s School of Communications, served as the party's Central Florida's Hispanic outreach coordinator in 2013. She provided support to elected officials, launched voter registration efforts and helped with media relations with Hispanic media. She later worked for former Gov. Charlie Crist and Annette Taddeo's team as director of Hispanic media. 

“We absolutely are thrilled to have Sheyla join our team,” said Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant. “Sheyla was a tremendous asset last cycle, and I look forward to her continued efforts energizing and empowering communities across Florida to help deliver victories to Democrats up and down the ballot. ”

The party's Hispanic outreach efforts this cycle "will dwarf anything in the past,'' said party spokesman Max Steele. Democrats in 2014 won 20 percent more of the Hispanic vote than Republicans and the party is determined to expand those numbers this cycle, he said.  

The effort will include year-round voter registration, hiring a director of Hispanic media, and developing a presence in Hispanic communities across the state, with a special focus on the Orlando and Miami areas.

"The RPOF chair said just the other day that they have the right message but have a “marketing problem” when talking to voters who don’t traditionally vote Republican,'' Steele said. "They still don’t get it. When you have folks like Donald Trump pulling the party to the hard right with racist, nativist rhetoric, and proposing mass deportation, they clearly have a message problem. I mean Trump got Jeb Bush to start using the term anchor baby, which he had previously condemned."

Steele said Florida's Hispanic community is rejecting the GOP message "by a large majority...But rather than sitting back while Trump puts at risk the millions they are spending in Hispanic outreach, we are working to run up the score and improve our performance,'' he said. 

Wadi Gaitan, Republican Party of Florida communications director, offered the opposite view.

"While Democrats attempt to spin the broken immigration and economic promises of a Democrat run White House, the reality is that Hispanic voters are eager for a change from the old, failed Democrat polices that have resulted in a stagnant economy, an unfixed immigration system, and less opportunity,'' he said in a statement. "That is why our party is committed to holding Democrats accountable and sharing our message of real leadership and greater opportunity for all Americans.”

July 17, 2015

Was Carlos Lopez-Cantera an enthusiastic supporter of bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida?

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera became the first Hispanic candidate to enter the Florida Senate race to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on July 15.

Florida Democratic Party chair Allison Tant leveled a series of charges against the Republican, but the one that caught our attention was this one: that Lopez- Cantera "voiced enthusiastic support for bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida, calling the measure 'common sense.’ "

Lopez-Cantera, who was born in Spain to Cuban parents, is hoping to draw part of his support from Hispanic voters. Is it true that he was an enthusiastic supporter for an Arizona-style law, which some Hispanics feared would lead to racial profiling?

Tant has omitted the full story about what Lopez-Cantera said about bringing such a law to Florida. Turn to PolitiFact Florida for our fact-check.

June 10, 2015

Senate Democrats to continue with fundraiser in Tally on Monday

Senate Dem VictoryAs Florida legislators convene the third week of a three-week session with a budget vote pending, Senate Democrats have scheduled a fundraiser Monday night at the Governor's Club in Tallahassee. 

Senate rules prohibit fundraisers during session, including the special session, with one exception. If the fundraiser was previously planned before the special session was scheduled, an exemption is allowed. 

"The rules say it's allowed if it was planned before the call of the session,'' said Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner of Tampa who is hosting the event with Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami.

Joyner, however, said Wednesday if the fundraiser was scheduled, she hasn't been thinking about it.

"Nothing rings a bell but the budget right now," she said.

Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, also took advantage of the exemption. He held a fundraiser on the first day of session June 1 at the Florida Association of Realtors in Tallahassee to raise money for his state Senate campaign. 

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


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.