July 26, 2016

Patrick Murphy delivers toxic algae to Gov. Rick Scott's office

0726 murphy algae

@ByKristenMClark

Upset that Republican Gov. Rick Scott hasn't personally come to the Treasure Coast to view algae blooms that are plaguing area waterways, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy hand-delivered several bottles full of the toxic green water to Scott's Tallahassee office on Tuesday morning.

Scott himself wasn't there, as he was attending a jobs event in Orange County. His spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said "it's disappointing that (Murphy) has spent more time on a stunt than a solution."

Murphy is a congressman from Jupiter, who represents the Treasure Coast and northern Palm Beach County -- areas affected by the algae blooms. He said he doesn't want to "vilify" anyone or lay blame for the algae crisis, but he criticized the governor at length for not doing more.

0726 murphy algae2"We have repeatedly called on the governor to come down and visit our district to see this first hand, and the governor has refused to see it," Murphy said, while standing in the Florida Capitol rotunda following his 30-second visit to the governor's office. "So, I decided that I wanted to come to Tallahassee and deliver this bottle of toxic algae to the governor to make sure he sees exactly what we're dealing with on a day-to-day basis."

Murphy wants Scott to use Amendment 1 environmental funds "to acquire more land for conservation, for preservation, to do more to send this water south."

"There's so much that needs to be done," Murphy said. "And instead of declaring a state of emergency to actually try to solve a problem, the governor tried to point a finger at the federal government and blame other people."

He continued: "This isn't a problem where you should be pointing fingers and blaming folks. ... The local government, the state government, the federal government all have to come together to solve this problem -- not see how you can score some cheap political points."

Murphy was himself criticized earlier this month over the algae crisis. His congressional office attempted to delay the announcement of aid for small businesses so that Murphy could announce it at a press event he'd planned.

"We wish Congressman Murphy would spend more time in Washington getting Congress and the president to approve funding to repair the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike, which has caused the algae problem in the Treasure Coast," said Schutz, the governor's spokeswoman. "Time and time again, the state continues to show up and put up funding to help with the water quality in this area and we wish Congress and the president would do the same."

Schutz added: "While Governor Scott has dedicated full resources to address this problem and recommended funding in next year’s budget, the federal government has failed to fund over $800 million in Everglades restoration which they are responsible for."

Photo credit: Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau

July 22, 2016

Al Sharpton to Alan Grayson: I didn't endorse you, so don't use me in your ad

Grayson sharpton ad

@ByKristenMClark

Civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton wants Democrat Alan Grayson to take down an online ad he launched this month that seems to imply the Orlando congressman has Sharpton's endorsement in Florida's competitive U.S. Senate race.

Ten days ago, Grayson posted on his Facebook page a video ad that shows Sharpton praising Grayson as a strong progressive. The 15-second spot includes undated footage from Sharpton's previous MSNBC show "PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton," which is edited so Sharpton says the following seamlessly:

"Now more than ever the Democrats need strong voices -- progressives, who are willing to fight for the causes they believe in. ... Joining me now is the man himself, Congressman Alan Grayson."

The footage seems to be a combination of two clips parsed from a single segment on Sharpton's show. The footage appears to be about three years old (a background graphic references the 113th Congress, which started in 2013).

Sharpton offered a stern rebuke to Grayson's ad.

“Let me be clear, this video should not be viewed as an endorsement from me of Rep. Grayson’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida," Sharpton said in a statement. "They did not contact me before posting this ad, nor did I endorse them implicitly or explicitly. I would appreciate it if they would take this video down as soon as possible to prevent any further confusion.”

Grayson campaign spokesman Dave Damron told the Herald/Times that Grayson has Sharpton's personal phone number and that the congressman reached out to discuss Sharpton's concerns.

"The congressman has other videos similar in style to this one on his YouTube channel, and we’ve not heard concerns like this raised before," Damron said in an email. "Until Rep. Grayson can reach Rev. Sharpton, we will not be taking the video down."

Damron also added that Grayson "didn't claim an endorsement in the video, and it only excerpted comments aired throughout the country on Rev. Sharpton’s previous MSNBC show."

"Rep. Grayson appeared often on that show, and also at several public events with the Reverend," Damron said.

As of Friday afternoon, the web ad had more than 15,000 views on Grayson's Facebook page, and the ad previously showed up elsewhere on the site as "sponsored" content.

Here's the ad in question:

July 21, 2016

Patrick Murphy, Alan Grayson agree to U.S. Senate primary debate

@ByKristenMClark & @MichaelAuslen

U.S. Senate candidates Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson have accepted invitations to participate in a Democratic primary debate next month on an Orlando TV station.

The debate is set to be a taped one-hour event sponsored by WFTV News. It is expected to air Aug. 12, with news anchor Greg Warmoth moderating.

It's not clear which other Democratic candidates were invited to participate. Also in the Democratic race are Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith, former assistant U.S. attorney Reginald Luster of Jacksonville and California real estate developer "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente of Orlando.

The debate has yet to be announced by the station.

Florida's party primaries are nearly a month away.

Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter considered the frontrunner in the Democratic race, has vowed repeatedly to debate Grayson, his main primary rival and a fellow congressman from Orlando, but the candidates had -- until now -- failed to agree on an event ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

Only one debate has been held so far during the 2016 U.S. Senate campaign -- but that April event was between only Grayson and Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who has since dropped out of the U.S. Senate race and is seeking re-election to the House.

As the Herald/Times reported last week, several TV and radio stations have been trying to organize primary debates for both the Republican and Democratic races, but the biggest obstacle has been the candidates themselves.

Murphy's campaign, in particular, has been called out for being difficult. Murphy declined to participate in both a Aug. 3 debate for Orlando public radio station WMFE and in the Grayson-Jolly debate. For the latter, Murphy's campaign contended he was never invited, but the debate sponsor provided emails that proved otherwise.

No debates have been scheduled on the Republican side, between incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio and challenger Carlos Beruff.

This post has been updated.

July 05, 2016

Dena Grayson makes most of her new last name - with assist from husband Alan Grayson

Capture

@ByKristenMClark

In her bid to replace her husband in Congress, Dr. Dena Grayson is taking full advantage of the name recognition her new married last name provides in Central Florida.

Grayson has already been featuring her groom, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and current Orlando U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, prominently on her campaign website -- and now he's also helping her out in campaign ads, too.

Alan Grayson provides the voice-over for Dena Grayson's first TV ad, which her U.S. House campaign unveiled today, and Grayson also appears with his wife at the end of it.

For her part, Dena Grayson echoes his talking points and campaign platform, almost verbatim.

On her website, she uses Alan Grayson's Senate campaign pitch of "seniors deserve a raise," and in the ad, Alan Grayson mentions that Dena Grayson wants "to expand Medicare to cover eyes, ears and teeth" -- a nod to his current bill in Congress, the "Seniors Have Eyes, Ears and Teeth Act."

"She’s a doctor who's treated poor people for free and devoted years to developing cures for cancer," Alan Grayson says in the ad narration. "Our political system is sick, but this doctor will make it better."

Here's the ad:

Dena Grayson is a biochemist and medical doctor in her first bid for public office. She wants to replace Alan Grayson in representing the newly-redrawn 9th Congressional District in Central Florida.

The couple wed on May 29 in a private ceremony in Melbourne Beach and hope to become the first husband-wife pair elected to the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House. Both face contested Democratic primaries on Aug. 30.

Dena Grayson's campaign said her first ad is already running in metro Orlando. Online records of the Federal Communications Commission don't yet reflect any ad buys by her campaign.

June 30, 2016

Hialeah Gardens mayor, council endorse Manny Diaz Jr.

@ByKristenMClark

Incumbent Republican state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. has earned the endorsement of Hialeah Gardens Mayor Yioset De La Cruz and the entire city council, Diaz's campaign announced today.

“We need Manny Diaz’s leadership in Tallahassee,” De La Cruz said in a statement provided by the campaign. “He is a trusted partner at the state level for our community. We look forward to continuing to work with him to improve our schools and to support policies that will increase economic growth and opportunity in our area.”

Joining De La Cruz in supporting Diaz are Councilmen Luciano “Lucky” Garcia, Rolando Piña, Jorge Merida, Jorge Gutierrez, and Elmo Urra.

“Manny Diaz knows our community and is committed to making it even better,” Gutierrez said. “We can depend on him to listen to the constituents he serves and make wise choices in Tallahassee. We can’t afford to be without him as our representative in the Florida House.”

Diaz, of Hialeah, is seeking re-election to a third term in the Florida House, representing District 103. He was first elected in 2012. If re-elected, Diaz is in line to be either House Education Committee chairman or education budget committee chairman in 2017.

Diaz faces Democrat Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich in the November general election. Neither candidate has a primary challenger.

District 103 includes Miramar, Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Medley and part of Doral.

Patrick Murphy gears up for TV air war against Alan Grayson

via @adamsmithtimes

The Patrick Murphy U.S. Senate campaign has reserved $1.7 million in TV time for commercials over the final four weeks leading up to the Aug. 30 primary against Democrat Alan Grayson. The campaign has reserved air time in the Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Jacksonville markets.

Murphy already has radio ads airing in much of the state targeting African-American voters and featuring Barack Obama, and as of March 31 had a lot more money on hand than Grayson: $5.6 million versus $400,000.

(Grayson's campaign also said today that it was prepping a six-figure ad buy that will begin soon.)

 

Alan Grayson to launch six-figure ad buy in Florida's U.S. Senate race

@ByKristenMClark

With 60 days until the primary election, Florida's Democratic contest for U.S. Senate continues to ramp up.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, is making a six-figure ad buy that will start airing on Florida TV stations soon, Grayson's spokesman Dave Damron confirmed today.

No other details on the ad buy are available yet, including how much exactly Grayson plans to spend, which markets his ads will air in and what the focus of his ads will be.

Politico first reported on the ad buy.

Grayson is competing in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary against fellow U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith, former assistant U.S. attorney Reginald Luster of Jacksonville and California real estate developer "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente of Orlando.

The candidates' next quarterly campaign finance reports to the Federal Elections Commission are due July 15, so it's unclear how much cash on hand Grayson has to spend at this point.

Headed into April, Grayson had about $430,000 in cash on hand, compared to the $5.6 million Murphy had in the bank by that point.

June 29, 2016

Senate poll: Rubio clear GOP frontrunner but tied with Murphy in general election matchup

@ByKristenMClark

Another recent poll shows incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio as the clear Republican favorite in Florida's U.S. Senate race -- but he would have a battle on his hands against Democrat Patrick Murphy if the two faced off in the general election, the poll found.

The new statewide survey from News 13/Bay News 9 -- conducted June 25-27 -- found Rubio with 63 percent support in the Aug. 30 GOP primary, with "undecided" being a distant second at 13 percent. Manatee County home-builder Carlos Beruff got 11 percent, followed by relative unknowns Dwight Young at 10 percent and Ernie Rivera at 2 percent.

For those results, the TV stations polled 555 likely Republican voters. The results had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent.

In the Democratic primary, the potential victor is not so decisive.

"Undecided" still leads the pack with 35 percent support -- as it has consistently for months while the Democratic contenders fight for prominence among primary voters.

But as is consistent with most other recent polls, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter holds the edge. He got 30 percent support compared 21 percent support for fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando, the poll found.

Among the remaining percent: Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith got 10 percent support, former assistant U.S. attorney Reginald Luster of Jacksonville got 3 percent and California businessman and former presidential hopeful "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente of Orlando got 2 percent. Luster and De La Fuente joined the primary contest last week when they qualified for the ballot.

The stations surveyed 618 likely Democratic primary voters for those results, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

The only general election match-up the stations polled was between Rubio and Murphy, who are viewed as the frontrunners in their respective primaries.

If the election were held this week, respondents would have made it a draw.

Both Rubio and Murphy polled with 43 percent support, while 8 percent said they were undecided and 7 percent would've picked another candidate.

The general election survey polled 1,678 likely November voters. The results had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percent.

More detailed poll results here.

June 28, 2016

Florida police union endorses Patrick Murphy

@ByKristenMClark

The Florida Police Benevolent Association has endorsed Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida's U.S. Senate race this year, Murphy's campaign said today.

It adds to a growing list of endorsements from unions and other party establishment organizations who have rallied behind Murphy ahead of the August Democratic primary.

"The Florida PBA is proud to endorse Patrick Murphy because we know that he will stand with our police officers and first-responders in the U.S. Senate," PBA President John Rivera said in a statement provided by Murphy's campaign. "Patrick is the leader that our officers need to ensure that they can continue keeping our communities safe. As the organization that advocates for Florida’s police officers, we trust Patrick Murphy to advocate for us.”

In the Aug. 30 party primary, Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, faces fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando; Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith; former assistant U.S. attorney Reginald Luster of Jacksonville; and California businessman "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente, of Orlando.

Republicans attack Patrick Murphy's 'career built on lies'

@ByKristenMClark

Republican groups continue to hammer home revelations of résumé embellishment by Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a new TV ad today condemning what it described as Murphy's "career built on lies."

The ad will run over the next two weeks in the Washington, D.C. area, the NRSC said. The group is spending about $45,000 on the airtime, a spokesman said.

Information in the 60-second spot draws largely from a scrutinizing TV investigation that aired last week by Jim DeFede of Miami Herald news partner WFOR CBS-4 Miami. DeFede's two-part report highlighted the facts that -- despite Murphy's and his campaign's claims -- Murphy never "worked" as a certified public account and he wasn't actually a "small business owner."

The NRSC's ad also includes video of Murphy responding to questions by the Herald/Times about the documented discrepancies in his credentials that the Herald, Tampa Bay Times and Politico Florida previously uncovered.

"What is Privileged Patrick Murphy hiding?" a narrator asks, using the nickname Republican critics use for the Jupiter congressman.

Watch the ad here:

Murphy campaign manager Josh Wolf said in a statement this morning: "The NRSC is welcome to waste their money in D.C., because Patrick is fighting for Florida."

The statement included a lengthy "fact check," seeking to debunk both the ad and, again, the CBS Miami report.

Murphy's campaign blasted the station's investigation as "deeply false" and "misleading" and, as part of its damage control, claimed that the station made several corrections.

However, while some wording was changed slightly from what was originally published in the online, written version, no official corrections have been made by the station, and CBS Miami has said it stands by its reporting.

The two key conclusions of DeFede's reporting -- that Murphy never "worked" as a CPA and isn't a "small business owner" -- are true.

Murphy was -- and is -- licensed in Colorado as a CPA, not in Florida. Florida requires a license here to perform any work associated with being a CPA, such as "performing audits" or "representing oneself as a CPA."

And there is no conclusive evidence that shows Murphy "owned" Coastal Environmental Services, a subsidiary of his father's Coastal Construction company. The evidence to which the Murphy campaign links in an effort to prove Murphy owned the business is the company's incorporation documents from 2010. But those were signed by Coastal Construction executive Dan Whiteman and it lists Murphy third on a list of company directors behind Whiteman and his father, Tom Murphy Jr.

Last week, a new super PAC supporting Rubio also released an ad online to attack Murphy using the CBS Miami report.

This post has been updated.