September 20, 2016

Watch Pam Bondi answer questions about Trump donation

@ByKristenMClark

After weeks of silence on the issue, Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi answered questions for more than 15 minutes Tuesday morning about a controversial $25,000 campaign donation she previously accepted from Donald Trump, as her office fielded a complaint about his Trump University real estate seminars.

Bondi convened the press conference shortly before the Florida Cabinet's monthly meeting at the Capitol in Tallahassee.

Watch her comments and answers to reporters' questions in the videos below, and read the full story here.

New Murphy ad calls Rubio 'reckless on choice'

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@ByKristenMClark

Hot off announcing an endorsement from Planned Parenthood earlier today, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is launching a new TV ad this afternoon that highlights his and Marco Rubio's contrasting viewpoints on abortion.

Murphy's ad slams the incumbent Republican U.S. senator for being "reckless on choice."

The 30-second spot highlights Murphy's new endorsement from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and mentions he is "100 percent pro-choice," while Rubio specifically opposes exceptions for abortion in the cases of rape, incest or for pregnant women infected with the Zika virus.

Murphy's campaign says the ad will run statewide as part of a "seven-figure" buy.

"Marco Rubio is reckless on a woman's right to choose, radical in his attacks on women’s health funding, and irresponsible in his anti-woman rhetoric," Murphy said in a campaign statement. "Florida women deserve a senator who will stand up for their right to make their down health care decisions."

In response to Planned Parenthood's endorsement of Murphy today, Rubio's campaign said in an earlier statement that Murphy was "leaning on liberal interest groups to prop him up," because his campaign "is floundering."

As for Murphy's new ad, Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said, "Patrick Murphy is distorting Marco's record like he distorted his own resume."

"Not only does Murphy support using taxpayer money to fund abortions, he also supports late-term abortions. Murphy's extreme positions on abortion put him out of touch with the vast majority of Floridians," Perez-Cubas said.

Here's Murphy's new ad:

Image credit: Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign / YouTube

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

Manny Diaz Jr. running TV ads for re-election to Florida House

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@ByKristenMClark

School-choice proponent and influential incumbent Hialeah state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. is running English- and Spanish-language ads on Miami-area TV to promote his re-election bid for state House District 103.

Highlighting his work on education policy, the Republican spent more than $87,000 on TV ad buys in late August and early September, according to his most recent campaign finance disclosure to the state.

"Improving our education system and creating new jobs are my priorities. I'm working to make Florida better for my family and yours," Diaz said in a statement.

Diaz, who's seeking a third and final term in the Florida House, is a prime target for Democrats this fall. Democrat Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich is challenging him in November.

Democrats want to unseat Diaz because doing so would prevent him from having even further influence on school choice policies, which Democrats say undercut traditional public schools.

Diaz was the House Choice & Innovation Subcommittee chairman in the 2016 session and is on track to be either House education policy chairman or education budget chairman, if he's re-elected.

Gonzalez Petkovich hasn't bought TV ad time yet, according to her available campaign finance records.

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

Image credit: Manny Diaz Jr. for State Representative / Facebook

Patrick Murphy attacks Marco Rubio in announcing Planned Parenthood's support

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@ByKristenMClark

Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has the official support of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and he's using that backing to renew attacks on Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio over his stance on abortion and the Zika virus.

The inclusion of Zika funding for Planned Parenthood's affiliates in Puerto Rico has been a partisan sticking point that's prevented Congress from passing a $1.9 billion funding package that President Obama requested months ago.

It's not unexpected that Planned Parenthood's political arm chose to endorse Murphy over Rubio in Florida's competitive U.S. Senate race. Rubio is pro-life, while Murphy advocates for women's choice on abortion.

Murphy said he was "incredibly humbled" by the endorsement, announced Tuesday.

"This is an organization that provides vital health care to millions of women across this country," Murphy said in a campaign statement. "While Marco Rubio opposes a woman’s right to choose, voted to defund Planned Parenthood, and has exploited the Zika virus to attack women’s health, I will be a senator who stands with Planned Parenthood to fight for Florida families."

Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards also criticized Rubio while praising Murphy.

"Murphy has been a fighter for Florida women, pushing for smart policies to ensure access to affordable birth control and safe, legal abortion," Richards said in a statement provided by Murphy's campaign. "Patrick sees the importance of access to reproductive health providers, like Planned Parenthood, to keep Florida women healthy. Rubio’s multiple attacks aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, cutting health care access in Florida, forcing women to pay more for birth control and eliminating access to safe, legal abortion, would all have devastating effects on Florida women and families."

In response to the criticism from Murphy and Planned Parenthood officials, Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said: "Patrick Murphy's campaign is floundering, so he's leaning on liberal interest groups to prop him up."

"Voters have a clear choice between re-electing a senator with a strong record of fighting for them, or Patrick Murphy, who has proven untrustworthy and ineffective," Perez-Cubas added.

Planned Parenthood's is one of several endorsements Murphy has announced since the Aug. 30 primary election. He's continuing a strategy he employed during the primary, in which he touted endorsements from a wide array of Democratic establishment supporters to propel his campaign against his party competitors. It's unclear whether that's having a similar impact during the general election contest against Rubio.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / AP/ The Palm Beach Post

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

Republican super PAC emphasizes Patrick Murphy's "lies" in new ad

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@ByKristenMClark

A major Republican super PAC on Tuesday is starting a $10.8 million TV ad campaign against Democrat Patrick Murphy by continuing to highlight the U.S. Senate candidate's résumé controversy.

The topic has been the subject of a plethora of GOP ads so far in Florida's U.S. Senate contest, mostly from the National Republican Senatorial Committee but also from the Republican incumbent, Sen. Marco Rubio.

In its first TV ad of the general election, the Senate Leadership Fund asserts: "Phony Patrick Murphy lies...a lot."

The ad again targets Murphy's disputed credentials of working as a CPA and as a small business owner. But in contrast to recent NRSC ads, the Senate Leadership Fund avoids saying Murphy "never" did those jobs at all -- an extreme that PolitiFact rated "Mostly False."

Watch the ad below, which will run on Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach broadcast and cable TV:

Continue reading "Republican super PAC emphasizes Patrick Murphy's "lies" in new ad" »

September 19, 2016

In Tampa, Patrick Murphy talks Marco Rubio, immigration reform

Via @adawsonwrites

He didn't get a chance to eat the Cuban sandwich and plantain chips laid at his table Monday at Arco Iris Restaurant in West Tampa, but U.S. Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy left the small cafe with support from a host of political activists.

Much of Murphy's brief stop with state Rep. Janet Cruz, who will be the House Democratic leader after the Nov. 8 election, was spent blasting his opponent, incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, on everything from Zika funding to immigration and health care reform laws.

"Guess what, it takes an Irishman to speak on behalf of the Latinos on immigration. It takes an Irishman to protect the rights of families and say, 'I'll work on a path to citizenship,' " Cruz said of Murphy as he settled in at a long table of supporters. "It's a Latino that we have in the Senate that is speaking out against our own people."

Immigration reform is key to strengthening the economy, said Murphy, a South Florida congressman. Borders should be secured and laws enforced, he said, but with a clear pathway to citizenship so kids aren't "graduating from school and getting kicked out the next day."

More here.

Communications Workers of America endorses Patrick Murphy for general election

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@ByKristenMClark

The Communications Workers of America is endorsing U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy now that he's the Democrats' official general election contender for Florida's U.S. Senate seat.

Last spring -- during the primary phase of the campaign -- the union had endorsed Murphy's main Democratic opponent, fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson

The CWA had represented a rare, major endorsement for Grayson, but Murphy beat him easily in the Aug. 30 primary.

The union represents more than 700,000 workers -- including 12,000 in Florida -- across various fields, such as information technology, telecommunications, news media, health care, manufacturing and the airline industry.

CWA leaders plan to announce their "full support" of Murphy's campaign at a 9 a.m. press conference Monday in West Palm Beach. Murphy has represented northern Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast in Congress since 2013.

"Patrick is the leader that our hardworking CWA members need in the U.S. Senate and we are proud to endorse his campaign," Richard Honeycutt, vice president of CWA District 3, said in a statement, provided by Murphy's campaign. "From standing up for workers’ rights to fighting to raise the minimum wage, Patrick shares our priorities. Hardworking Floridians are ready for a senator who shows up and works hard for them and we are confident that Patrick will be that senator."

Murphy said in a campaign statement that he was "proud" to have the CWA's support, and he pledged to "stand with CWA members to fight for our shared priorities."

Murphy is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in November.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / AP/The Palm Beach Post

September 17, 2016

Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio agree: Don't pardon Edward Snowden

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@ByKristenMClark

Despite their myriad differences, U.S. Senate candidates Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy are on the same page when it comes to Edward Snowden's fate.

Both the Republican incumbent and his Democratic challenger believe President Barack Obama should not pardon Snowden, the man who a few years ago leaked details of classified national security surveillance programs.

Talk of a potential pardon for Snowden made headlines this week, as a new movie about Snowden's life debuted in theaters amid a push by major human rights groups for Obama to pardon him for his actions.

The House Intelligence Committee -- of which Murphy is a member -- weighed in on the matter, too, with the completion of its own two-year inquiry and a unanimous letter to Obama on Thursday emphatically urging against a Snowden pardon.

"Given the findings by the House Intelligence Committee on which he serves, Congressman Murphy joined the entire bipartisan committee in strongly opposing a pardon for Snowden," Murphy's congressional spokeswoman Erin Moffet said in a statement to the Herald/Times.

"The congressman believes Edward Snowden should be held accountable for his actions," Moffet said. "The theft and disclosure of classified American military, defense, and intelligence documents, which may now be available to Russia, China, and other adversaries, must not be taken lightly.  Snowden not only violated privacy interests, but also harmed our national security."

Asked by the Herald/Times for Rubio's opinion on a Snowden pardon, Rubio's campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said the senator also doesn't support it.

"Marco has been saying for years that Edward Snowden is a traitor, and he should face the full consequences for his dangerous betrayal of the U.S.," Perez-Cubas said.

Continue reading "Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio agree: Don't pardon Edward Snowden" »

September 16, 2016

Report: DSCC makes further cuts to Florida ad buy

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@ByKristenMClark

Senate Democrats' chief campaign committee is withdrawing even more advertising money from Florida, cutting its once-$10 million ad reservation down to $6 million, Politico reported this afternoon.

It's not good news for Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy -- who needs the boost of outside spending to improve his low statewide name recognition and to sway voters in his bid to unseat Republican incumbent U.S Sen. Marco Rubio.

MORE: "$40 million worth of ads are coming in Murphy-Rubio battle"

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had originally been scheduled to debut its ads in Florida on Sept. 20, but over the past two weeks, the committee cut at least $1.5 million in planned ads -- delaying most of its airtime until October.

But Politico reports the DSCC is further "ceding ground" in expensive states like Florida and Ohio in favor of races in North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana.

On top of the cancellations and reductions in ad time for September, the DSCC on Friday was also cutting time for the week of Oct. 4, according to various reports. It appears that cancellation amounted to about $2.5 million.

When asked for comment, DSCC spokeswoman Sadie Weiner referred the Herald/Times to the Politico story. She did not respond to earlier emails Thursday and Friday asking for an updated figure on the committee's planned ad buy.

Amid the DSCC's reductions, Democratic officials have argued that a $10.5 million planned ad buy that began this week by the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, would be more than enough to fight on Murphy's behalf.

But Republicans will be out in force for Rubio, too. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has already spent $2 million of a $4.8 million ad buy planned before Oct. 2. And the Senate Leadership Fund, a conservative super PAC, plans to start a $10.8 million ad buy on Tuesday.

Photo credit: AP

Outside groups plan $40M+ in TV ads for Florida U.S. Senate race

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@ByKristenMClark

At least a dozen super PACs and independent political groups have pledged at least $40 million so far in reserved TV time in Florida’s U.S. Senate race — hoping to use a barrage of commercials before Election Day to steer voters to Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio or Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

The money is almost split evenly between Republican and Democratic backers, with about $20 million on each side, the Herald/Times found.

And that doesn’t even count the millions the candidates’ own campaigns might pour into TV advertising. Both launched their first ads of the general election this month, but neither campaign would discuss with the Herald/Times how much they planned to spend through November.

Meanwhile, at least $12 million has already been spent by roughly two dozen groups to buoy Murphy’s and Rubio’s campaigns with outside support, including TV ads, Federal Election Commission records compiled by ProPublica show.

The tens of millions of dollars these political influencers are investing — from the conservative Koch brothers to liberal labor unions — is another mark of how important Florida’s U.S. Senate race is on the national stage.

More here.

Image credits: Marco Rubio's U.S. Senate campaign and Senate Majority PAC/AFSCME People / YouTube