June 18, 2016

Patrick Murphy presents criminal justice reform plan

Patrickmurphy_leadershipblue_0618

@ByKristenMClark

Surrounded by two nationally known lawmakers, a couple Florida legislators and almost a dozen community leaders, Florida Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy released on Saturday his policy proposal for criminal justice reform.

Murphy called for laws to "ban the box" on job applications and restore voting rights for ex-felons, improved funding for law enforcement agencies to buy body cameras and other reforms aimed at reducing incarceration rates and helping those who've done time to become productive members of society, instead of returning to crime.

"I'm running for the U.S. Senate because I know we can make a difference on these issues," Murphy said. "We must reduce recidivism by creating a better pathway back into society for formerly incarcerated individuals."

Democratic U.S. Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey joined Murphy to announce his proposal during a press conference Saturday afternoon at the Florida Democratic Party's "Leadership Blue" gathering at The Diplomat hotel in Hollywood.

Booker -- who is rumored to be among Hillary Clinton's possible choices for a vice presidential candidate -- is the keynote speaker at the Democrats' fundraising gala Saturday evening. Booker endorsed Murphy more than a year ago.

Also there to support Murphy were Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Fort Lauderdale state Sen. Chris Smith and West Park state Rep. Shevrin Jones.

Photo credit: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy presents his criminal justice reform plan during a press conference June 18, 2016 at the Florida Democratic Party's "Leadership Blue" gala in Hollywood, FL. He was joined by more than a dozen Democratic supporters, including South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn (left) and (from right) New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Florida state Sen. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

June 15, 2016

Patrick Murphy: 'You bet' I'm ready to take on Marco Rubio if he runs

@ByKristenMClark

Patrickmurphy01wmmWith it looking ever-more likely that Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will change his mind and seek re-election, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy says he's ready for the challenge -- and he's pre-emptively going on the offensive against his potential opponent.

Speaking to CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday evening, Murphy said: "This isn't about Senator Rubio. It is about the people of Florida, about making sure they have someone who's going to fight for them, that's not going to miss a historic amount of votes in committees or vote against this terrorist loophole that I think is largely responsible for what just happened the other day."

"It sounds like if he reconsiders and decides to seek re-election, you're ready to battle?" Blitzer asked.

"You bet," replied Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter.

Murphy noted to Blitzer that he "announced against Senator Rubio a year ago, a year and a half ago when he was still in this race."

While it's true Rubio was still unofficially on track to seek re-election when Murphy declared his Senate candidacy on March 23, 2015, it was largely expected by that point that Rubio would dive into the presidential race -- leaving a rare open U.S. Senate seat for Florida.

Rubio did just that three weeks later on April 13, 2015. (He ended his presidential bid in mid-March after a dismal showing in the Florida primary.)

By comparison, Democrat Pam Keith -- who was the first of the major party contenders to enter the 2016 U.S. Senate race -- declared her challenge to Rubio in mid-November 2014. The other Democratic primary contender, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, announced his campaign in early July 2015.

Grayson's campaign also spoke out Wednesday evening about the rumors circulating around Rubio. He, too, was on the attack.

"The establishment's push to get a feckless Marco Rubio into this race will merely serve up another NRA-backed Republican who's hostile to gay rights and wants Donald Trump to be president," Grayson campaign spokeswoman Brooke Hines said in a statement. "Trump's brand of bigotry, like Rubio's outdated politics, no longer fit in Florida."

Murphy, Grayson and Keith will face off in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

Blitzer invited Murphy on CNN primarily to discuss local, state and federal authorities' ongoing investigation into the Orlando shooting. (More on that here.)

Photo credit: Walter Michot / Miami Herald

 

Pam Bondi: Yesterday wasn't 'time nor place' for CNN's Anderson Cooper to ask about her record on LGBT rights

via @adamsmithtimes

Attorney General Pam Bondi today appeared on the radio show of her friend Todd Schnitt, criticizing CNN's Anderson Cooper for focusing on her record on LGBT rights -- rather than questions about helping victims of the Orlando shooting which she had expected to address.

"The interview was supposed to be about helping victims families not creating, more anger and havoc and hatred," she said.

Listen to the interview below.

Read here for more on the original CNN interview.

Republican David Jolly will reveal plans Friday: Senate or House?

via @learyreports

David Jolly will announce Friday morning whether he will remain in the U.S. Senate race or seek re-election to the House.

Jolly told the Tampa Bay Times' Buzz blog he will make his decision regardless of whether Marco Rubio has said what he will do. Jolly plans an 11 a.m. event but has not set the location.

He remains convinced Rubio will run for re-election.

Rubio, who attended a Florida delegation meeting on Zika, declined to answer a question the race.

After Orlando shooting, Democrats want special legislative session

@ByKristenMClark

Three Orlando-area Democrats will call this morning for Republican legislative leaders to convene a special session of the Florida Legislature, so lawmakers can consider a proposal in response to Sunday's shooting massacre at Pulse nightclub.

Expected to attend the 10 a.m. announcement in front of the Orange County Courthouse are state Sens. Darren Soto and Geraldine Thompson, both of Orlando, state Rep. John Cortes, of Kissimmee, and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.

The lawmakers and local official plan to unveil their "tactical proposal to prevent future tragedies."

But the proposal -- details of which are yet unknown -- isn't expected to go very far.

Katie Betta -- the spokeswoman for Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando -- told the News Service of Florida in an email Tuesday: "The president does not support expending taxpayer dollars on a special session unless there is definitive support within the Senate for a concrete legislative proposal that requires time-sensitive action. Absent those elements, the president has a hard time viewing press conferences calling for a special session three days after the worst act of terrorism in this country since Sept. 11 as anything more than political posturing by two senators who have declared their intention to run for Congress."

Both Soto and Thompson are leaving the state Senate this year and are campaigning for seats in the U.S. House.

June 14, 2016

Todd Wilcox in first campaign ad: 'Arab Sunni Muslim terrorism' threatens Western society

@ByKristenMClark

Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox launched his first campaign ad online today, emphasizing the need to eliminate ISIS.

"Arab Sunni Muslim terrorism is a threat to all of Western society," Wilcox says to begin the 35-second spot. "If we don't take the fight to ISIS now, we'll be fighting them here at home. We should use every pillar of American power to destroy ISIS."

The ad's debut came on the first day of Wilcox's three-day campaign tour to discuss national security with voters across Florida.

Wilcox is among five Republicans running in the Aug. 30 primary for Marco Rubio's U.S. Senate seat.

Republicans troll Miami-Dade legislative candidate for not living in district

@ByKristenMClark

A Democratic newcomer who's challenging an incumbent Republican lawmaker in Hialeah is under attack for not currently living in the district that she's seeking to represent.

In a 30-second online ad, the Republican Party of Florida says "Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich doesn't live in Hialeah, but she thinks she can represent Hialeah."

The ad capitalizes on comments Gonzalez Petkovich made to Politico Florida last month, when the website reported that she and her husband, Alex, live in an area of Doral that's just outside House District 103 -- where she's challenging state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah.

But Gonzalez Petkovich, an attorney with her own Coral Gables-based law firm, said Tuesday it's "laughable" for Republicans to paint her as someone unfamiliar with the district since she was born and raised there.

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

Continue reading "Republicans troll Miami-Dade legislative candidate for not living in district" »

Anitere Flores leads Andrew Korge in internal campaign poll

@ByKristenMClark

About five months before Election Day, Miami Republican state Sen. Anitere Flores leads Democratic newcomer Andrew Korge, according to a recent internal Republican poll of the District 39 contest.

The state Senate battle between Flores and Korge is one of the most closely watched and expensive legislative races this year.

In a survey of 302 likely general election voters three weeks ago, Flores had a 9 percentage-point advantage over Korge in a head-to-head matchup. Flores drew 40 percent support, compared to 31 percent for Korge. About 29 percent of respondents were undecided in the contest.

After hearing more about the two candidates, Flores' lead over Korge grew among respondents -- with 62 percent favoring her, 16 percent favoring Korge and 17 percent undecided.

The Florida Republican Senatorial Committee had the poll done May 20-22 as a $19,500 in-kind contribution to Flores' campaign, which she reported in her May campaign finance report.

Information about the poll was provided to the Herald/Times by a political consultant working with Flores' campaign and Sarah Bascom, on behalf of the FRSC. Specific questions asked of respondents and raw data of the poll results was not available.

The margin of error for the results is plus or minus 5.7 percentage points.

The poll also found that Flores -- a lawmaker who has represented parts of Miami-Dade County since 2004 -- has stronger name recognition than her opponent. Korge is a first-time candidate, whose father, Chris Korge, is a prominent Democratic fundraiser in South Florida. More than 80 percent of respondents said they didn't know who Andrew Korge was, compared to about 60 percent who didn't know Flores.

The District 39 seat, newly redrawn because of redistricting, leans Democratic and Hispanic. The seat spans western and southern Miami-Dade County and Monroe County, including the Florida Keys. The area overlaps slightly with Flores' current district, but most of it is new territory for her.

District 39 is one of three hotly contested state Senate seats in Miami-Dade County that could help determine how strong the Republican majority in the chamber is next session. Democrats want to pick up a couple seats and narrow the gap. (The Senate currently has 26 Republicans and 14 Democrats.)

The FRSC poll asked respondents in District 39 which party they would vote for if the election were held now; about 44 percent said they'd pick a Republican candidate, 39 percent said they'd support a Democrat and 18 percent were undecided.

June 13, 2016

In 'clerical error,' a dead man donated to Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign

@ByKristenMClark

MurphyEighteen months after he died, a southern California businessman was reported to have cut two $2,700 checks to Democrat Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign in Florida.

The max donation to Murphy's campaign that was attributed to the late Vincent Gorguze was revealed by The San Diego Union-Tribune in a story late last week.

The U.S. Senate campaign for Murphy, a Jupiter congressman, told the Herald/Times on Monday it was a "clerical error" that caused the donation to be incorrectly tied to Gorguze, when it should have been listed under his widow's name.

The Union-Tribune reported that Gorguze -- father-in-law to California Democratic U.S. Rep. Scott Peters -- was listed as a campaign contributor for $8,000 in donations since his death in October 2013.

Most of it went to Murphy's campaign in two donations totaling $5,400 on April 14, 2015. The remaining $2,600 went to the re-election campaign of another California member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, the newspaper reported.

Like Murphy's campaign explained, Peters' campaign told the Union-Tribune that the contributions to Murphy were mistakenly made under Gorguze's name instead of his widow, Gloria Gorguze.

But the Peters campaign also appeared to lay blame on Murphy's campaign for not verifying the source of the donation.

"Donors can’t control how a campaign receiving a contribution reports that contribution," Peters spokeswoman MaryAnne Pintar told the Union-Tribune. "It is incumbent upon that receiving campaign to report contributions correctly. These errors were not on the part of the Peters family."

Murphy spokesman Joshua Karp said in an email to the Herald/Times that Murphy's "campaign has a process for ensuring the correct attribution of donations."

"Our campaign received a check from a joint checking account and a signature that was difficult to read," Karp said. "In a clerical error, the check was misattributed to Mrs. Gorguze's late husband. As soon as we found out about this error, we filed a correction."

Karp said that correction was filed Friday -- which was the same day the Union-Tribune story was published online.

Photo credit: Walter Michot / Miami Herald

Todd Wilcox announces statewide tour to discuss national security

@ByKristenMClark

Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox will embark on a three-day statewide tour this week to discuss national security issues with voters.

The tour -- which his campaign has titled "Preserving Peace through Strength" -- will stop in Tampa, Pensacola, Tallahassee, Amelia Island and Jacksonville between Tuesday and Thursday. (The tour does not include stops in South Florida.)

Wilcox's campaign had been planning the tour for a couple weeks, but the discussion topic is especially timely after the Orlando nightclub shooting on Sunday -- the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history perpetrated by a U.S. citizen who, authorities say, pledged support for ISIS in a 911 call shortly before the attack.

"As we approach this historic election, we must examine the context of our current U.S. foreign policy and national security strategy within which our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are serving," Wilcox said in a statement.

He added: "The unspeakable act of terror in my hometown this weekend remains on the forefront of concern this week for all of us and my hope is that this previously scheduled series of events serves as an opportunity to have thoughtful dialogue with veterans, GOP activists, community leaders, concerned Floridians and business owners about the impact our nation’s foreign policy has on our safety and security here at home."

Wilcox himself is a combat veteran and former CIA case officer.

Wilcox's Tallahassee stop on Wednesday will be held at the Florida Bureau of Elections, indicating that's when Wilcox might officially file his qualifying papers for the Aug. 30 primary.

Here is the schedule for his tour:

Continue reading "Todd Wilcox announces statewide tour to discuss national security" »