October 21, 2016

Obama endorses 13 Florida legislative candidates, including several in Miami-Dade races


President Barack Obama is supporting 13 Florida Democrats running for the state Legislature, the Florida Democratic Party announced this morning.

The list includes several high-profile candidates in highly competitive races -- many in Miami-Dade county.

Those include District 37 Senate candidate and current Miami state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez and District 39 candidate and political newcomer Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, of Pinecrest.

Both Rodriguez and Mucarsel-Powell are trying to unseat powerful Miami Republicans -- Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Anitere Flores, respectively -- and help Democrats narrow the Republicans' hold on the chamber majority.

On the House side, Obama also backed Miami-Dade legislative contenders Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich (challenging Hialeah Republican Manny Diaz Jr. in District 103); Nick Duran (running for Rodriguez's open seat in District 112 against Rosa Maria Palomino); Daisy Baez (running for the open District 114 seat against John Couriel); and Robert Asencio (who's in a bitter battle against former state Rep. David Rivera in District 118).

Many other Democrats also running against Republicans in Florida legislative districts weren't included in Obama's endorsement list, which is solely non-incumbents.

But noticeably absent from the list were state Sen. Dwight Bullard (who's running for re-election in District 40 in a heated race against state Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami) and District 38 Senate candidate and current state Rep. Daphne Campbell (who's running against former state Rep. Phillip Brutus).

Here is the full list of Florida legislative candidates Obama endorsed:


Continue reading "Obama endorses 13 Florida legislative candidates, including several in Miami-Dade races" »

After TV ad, Obama also does Spanish-language radio ad for Murphy



President Barack Obama has been all-in on raising Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy's still-relatively-limited profile with Florida voters this week.

Obama did a Spanish-language TV ad that was released Wednesday, and today Murphy's campaign released a Spanish-language radio ad that the president did, too.

(Not to mention, on Thursday in person, Obama spent a noticeable portion of his campaign speech at a Hillary Clinton rally in Miami Gardens urging Democrats to help Murphy unseat Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.)

The new radio ad largely mirrors the TV one, but since it's 30 seconds longer, it has a couple additional lines by the president, both highlighting Murphy's character -- while also taking a subtle jab at Rubio:

"He’s a person with integrity that doesn’t abandon his responsibility," Obama says of Murphy in the radio ad.

"I count on Patrick Murphy and want you to do so also," Obama adds.

A narrator also offered this fresh line that wasn't in the TV spot: "Patrick Murphy worked with President Obama on immigration, while Senator Rubio supports Donald Trump."

"Voters know Marco's record of service on behalf of the Hispanic community," Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said, adding that Murphy has "used Dreamers as a talking point in this race"

"Marco is the only candidate who will act as a check and balance on the next president, regardless of who that may be," she said.

Murphy's campaign has aggressively been trying to improve the Jupiter congressman's appeal with Hispanic voters since the campaign hired Miami strategist Freddy Balsera in late September.

Listen to the radio ad here:

*This post has been updated with comment from Rubio's campaign.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

October 20, 2016

Murphy emphasizes working families in speech at Miami Gardens rally

@ByKristenMClark & @AmySherman1

Vowing to carry on the legacy President Barack Obama will leave behind, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy told a crowd of Hillary Clinton supporters in Miami-Dade County this afternoon that he and the Democratic presidential nominee would support working families and create an economy "that works for everybody."

"With the future of our economy and our country on the line, who are Republicans trying to elect this November? Marco Rubio and Donald Trump -- seriously?" Murphy said to a chorus of agreeing boos from the crowd waiting to hear Obama campaign for Clinton in Miami Gardens, a predominantly back community.

Murphy was one of several speakers -- and the only one who was white -- who took the stage before Obama arrived at Florida Memorial University this afternoon. Murphy got some cheers from the crowd but didn't seem to fire them up like rest of speakers

Continue reading "Murphy emphasizes working families in speech at Miami Gardens rally" »

Prominent gay-rights group backs Joe Garcia against Curbelo

NP-JoeGarcia-LBGT-SAVE-102016-006 Joe Garcia DS


A key LBGT organization in South Florida on Thursday endorsed Joe Garcia in his bid to win back from Rep. Carlos Curbelo the House seat that the Miami Republican wrested from him two years ago.

The Miami-based SAVE group, formed in 1993, said it was supporting the Miami Democrat because of his work advocating equality.

"During his term as congressman, Joe served South Florida's LGBTQ community admirably, garnering SAVE's Champion of Equality Award in 2013 for his sponsorship of the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act and his efforts to protect LBGT immigration rights," SAVE said in a statement.

Long before joining the House in January 2013, the group noted that Garcia had led the Cuban American National Foundation, which he then headed, in opposing the repeal of Miami-Dade's human-rights ordinance.

Once in Congress, Garcia served as vice chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus. He helped pass bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which extended protects against rape and domestic violence to members of the LBGT community.

"One of my guiding principles is that every person should be treated equally," Garcia said Thursday. "That's why I'm honored that SAVE would recognize my work in support of the LGBTQ community."

SAVE's endorsement of Garcia came six days after Log Cabin Republicans, an influential GOP gay-rights group, endorsed Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo of South Florida in their re-election races, along with five other incumbent lawmakers from across the country.



Hastings leads black lawmakers on Broward blitz for Clinton, Murphy



Rep. Alcee Hastings is bringing a group of fellow African-American members of Congress to South Florida for a two-day push to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump in the key battleground state.

Hastings, a 12th-term congressman from Miramar, will be joined by Reps. Charlie Rangel and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and by Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green of Texas in a swing through Broward County.

Almost 30 percent of Broward residents are black, forming one of the state's largest African-American voting blocs and a hub of a critical demographic group for Clinton to win the nation's biggest swing state in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

"With the rhetoric that we've heard from the Republican ticket, there can be little doubt how dangerous a Trump presidency would be for our country," Hastings told the Miami Herald. "We are here, first and foremost, to rally the African-American community in South Florida to elect Hillary Clinton as president and Patrick Murphy as our next United States senator."

Murphy, a Democratic congressman from Jupiter, is running against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Miami.

The congressional group's first stop was slated to be tonight at 7 p.m. to address a meeting of the Haitian American Democratic Club at Diecke Auditorium in Plantation.

Hastings and his Congressional Black Caucus colleagues had six events planned for Friday:

9 a.m., Breakfast at Betty's Soul Food Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale;

Noon, Visit the combined Clinton/Hastings campaign offices, 1033 NW Sixth Street, Fort Lauderdale;

12:55 p.m., Lunch at Ponderosa Soul Food Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale

1:40 p.m., Visit the headquarters of the Broward Democratic Executive Committee, 8320 W. Sunrise Boulevard, Plantation

3 p.m., Visit the Clinton campaign office, 3519 North Pineland Road, Sunrise;

4 p.m., Canvas homes on foot in Sunrise neighborhood around the Clinton campaign office.

Photo credit: Matias J. Ocner, Miami Herald




Florida Democrats troll Rubio with website for 'inevitable' 2020 presidential bid


The Florida Democratic Party isn't convinced by Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's gradually more definitive answers this week that he's committed to serving a full term, if re-elected, and has no plans to run for president again in four years.

Democrats launched a new website Thursday for what they call Rubio's "inevitable 2020 presidential campaign." MarcoRubioForPresident.com uses Rubio's old presidential campaign logo and adds the slogan: "2020. OF COURSE."


“Let's dispel with this fiction that Marco Rubio isn’t fully planning on running for president in 2020,” FDP spokesman Max Steele said in a statement. “After saying ‘like 10000 times’ he would not seek reelection to a job he spent months complaining about, Rubio broke his word yet again."

"Marco Rubio has never let promises get in the way of his unquenchable ambition, and Floridians know he’s not about to start now," Steele said.

Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas called the stunt "just another desperate gimmick after the national Democratic Party abandoned Patrick Murphy and canceled tens of millions of (dollars in) ads it planned to run on his behalf."

Rubio was asked several times during Monday's first U.S. Senate debate if he would commit to another full term if re-elected and whether doing so meant he wouldn't run for president again -- questions to which he's offered noncommittal, vague responses in the past.

He initially responded: “I’m going to serve six years in the Senate, God-willing, and I’m looking forward to it," and then repeated that answer in follow-up questions, evading a definitive "no" answer to a potential 2020 presidential bid.

"You can't be a senator and a president at the same time," he said.

On Tampa Bay radio on Wednesday, Rubio elaborated, saying voters should believe he's committed to another full term "because I said it" -- which led to trolling tweets from Democrats who shared Rubio's famous tweet from May when he specifically shot down the idea of running for re-election to the Senate, only to change his mind about a month later.

“If I wanted to run for something else, I wouldn’t have run for Senate," Rubio told WFLA-AM 970 on Wednesday. "If I were going to run for president in 4 years, I would have just stayed out of this race and started running on Nov. 9th."

Image credit: Florida Democratic Party

*This post has been updated with comment from Rubio's campaign.

Entering October, Rubio had 2x as much campaign cash as Murphy



After a lackluster fundraising quarter and an expensive primary, Democrat Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign entered October with about $2.8 million in the bank -- less than half of the $5.7 million in campaign cash Republican incumbent Marco Rubio had.

That new detail and others regarding Murphy's and Rubio's campaign finances were revealed in their third-quarter disclosure reports, which were filed with the Federal Election Commission late last week. Because Senate candidates first file paper copies with the Secretary of the Senate's office, there is a lag of several days before the reports become publicly available through the FEC.

Both campaigns had declined repeated requests for their cash-on-hand figures, opting to let their quarterly reports speak for themselves. That was the first time they'd done that all cycle; previously, they revealed their cash on hand simultaneously with how much they'd raised during the filing period.

Also revealed in the newly filed disclosures: Murphy spent more than twice as much as he brought in between July and September -- the bulk of it ($4.2 million) going out in the first part of the quarter during his contentious Aug. 30 primary race against fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

Continue reading "Entering October, Rubio had 2x as much campaign cash as Murphy" »

Patrick Murphy uses Trump tape remarks against Marco Rubio in new ad



Taking a page from Hillary Clinton's playbook, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is elevating attacks on his opponent by using words from Donald Trump's own mouth.

In a new ad Murphy's campaign will release Thursday morning, the Jupiter congressman further publicizes Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's continued support for the Republican presidential nominee by juxtaposing a couple of Trump's lewd comments from the 2005 Access Hollywood video with a clip of Rubio this summer saying, "We have to make sure that Donald wins this election."

MORE: Murphy looks to gain edge over Rubio using Trump video, but will it be enough?

Murphy also uses the ad as an opportunity to plug recent endorsements he's gotten from the editorial boards of Florida's largest newspapers, including the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald.

Watch the ad below:

Continue reading "Patrick Murphy uses Trump tape remarks against Marco Rubio in new ad" »

October 19, 2016

Patrick Murphy plans Tallahassee fundraiser for Oct. 30


Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy will be in Tallahassee at the end of the month for a fundraiser hosted by some prominent names in Florida's capital city 10 days before Election Day.

The host committee for the Oct. 30 afternoon event includes Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and attorney Ben Crump (who gained national attention while representing Trayvon Martin's family in the 2012 case against George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot and killed the black teenager).

The event is scheduled to be held at Crump's law office, Parks & Crump. Crump's law partner Daryl Parks is also on the host committee, although his name is misspelled on the invitation.

Donations to attend range from $25 for guests to $500 for hosts, according to an email invitation Murphy's campaign sent out Wednesday afternoon.

View the invitation here.

Photo credit: John Raoux / AP

Republicans accuse Patrick Murphy of U.S. House ethics violation over 2014 oppo book

Campaign 2016 Florida (3) (2)


The Republican Party of Florida's executive director alleges Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and current U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy violated House ethics rules because a recently leaked opposition research report that Murphy’s 2014 congressional campaign commissioned on the candidate himself says it was done "in collaboration with the staff of Rep. Murphy's office."

Federal law and House ethics rules prohibit members of Congress from using official congressional resources for campaign or political purposes. Murphy has been in Congress since 2013.

RPOF executive director George Riley signed off on an official complaint, which says it was emailed to the U.S. House Office of Congressional Ethics on Monday. The National Republican Senatorial Committee -- the political committee that seeks to elect Senate Republicans, like incumbent Marco Rubio -- distributed Riley's letter Wednesday morning.

Read the letter here.

Last week, Buzzfeed reported on the contents of the opposition research report, which it obtained from a Republican source. Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign did not dispute the validity of the 400-page document. Such reports are commonplace for campaigns, offering insight about vulnerabilities (and strengths) into a candidate's personal and professional record so that the campaign can prepare ways to defend (or highlight) that history.

"This admitted 'collaboration with the staff of Rep. Murphy's office' provides clear evidence that Murphy's office 'collaborated' with the campaign in preparing this document," Riley wrote in his complaint. "At a minimum, it provides both a 'reasonable basis' and 'probable cause' to believe that Murphy improperly used official resources for campaign purposes, justifying further investigation by OCE."

Aside from requesting that OCE "fully investigate Representative Murphy's use of official resources" for the vulnerability study "and for any other campaign purpose," Riley also asked that OCE "refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee and the U.S. Department of Justice for further review, as appropriate."

Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement in response to the complaint: "Marco Rubio's special interest allies seem to file false attacks like this every week. This is nothing more than a frivolous waste of taxpayer resources in an attempt to benefit Marco Rubio and his endless political ambition."

The leak of the 2014 opposition research, and subsequent filing of an ethics complaint, indicates national and state Republicans remain worried about Murphy's chances of unseating Rubio in November. (Although national Democrats seem to feel differently since, as recently as this week, they've withdrawn millions of dollars in ad support intended for Murphy.)

Despite Murphy struggling in September against Rubio, he's had a somewhat stronger October -- thanks, in large part, to the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood footage of Donald Trump and Rubio's decision to still stand by the Republican presidential nominee.

This is at least the second ethics complaint filed against Murphy this cycle. This summer, a Democratic progressive blogger who supported Murphy's primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, filed an ethics complaint over Murphy's ties to political donors who benefit from a immigration visa program Murphy has supported. No public decisions have been announced as to the state of that complaint.

Photo credit: John Raoux / AP

*This post has been updated with comment from Murphy's campaign.