September 06, 2016

DSCC delays ad buy in Florida U.S. Senate race

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@ByKristenMClark

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is delaying its initial advertising in Florida's U.S. Senate race in order to further fortify its resources closer to Election Day, a DSCC official told the Herald/Times.

The DSCC on Tuesday cancelled its ad buy planned for Sept. 20-26 -- what was to be the committee's first foray into Florida's general election between Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio.

National Republicans were heralding the news as positive for their side, saying Democrats were "bailing" on Murphy's "losing campaign."

But the DSCC official argues their change in strategy is no indication of dwindling commitment in Murphy's race.

"Florida is clearly a competitive race and one that Democrats can win given polling that was released today," the official said, referencing an internal poll that showed Murphy and Rubio virtually tied. (That poll -- conducted nearly a month ago but shared by Democrats on Tuesday -- contrasts with other recent polls that have found Rubio with a several percentage-point advantage.)

"This spending is simply being moved to come later in the election to backload our current Florida buy," the official added.

But by delaying spending until closer to Election Day, the Democrats potentially reduce the impact of their ads because many voters will have already made up their minds. Mail ballots start going out in early October and early voting begins Oct. 29.

Back in April, the DSCC -- whose goal is to elect more Democrats to the Senate -- reserved about $10 million in TV ad time for this fall to support its general election candidate, which Murphy officially became with last week's primary victory.

Democrats view Florida's as one of a handful of viable seats that could help them take back control of the chamber, but Florida's race became considerably more challenging earlier this summer when Rubio decided to seek re-election after all. Two national political analysts recently upgraded Rubio's prospects by changing their ratings for Florida's race from "toss up" to "leaning Republican."

The DSCC by early May already started reserving ad time for the final week prior to Election Day, Nov. 1-7 -- including more than $100,000 worth on one Miami TV station alone.

National Democrats won't be without resources in Florida this month, though. The Senate Majority PAC -- a Democratic super PAC -- has a large ad buy starting on Sept. 13.

Photo credit: Walter Michot / Miami Herald

Pro-life super PAC spending $100K for canvassers against Clinton, Murphy

Murphy (1)_ ap@ByKristenMClark

A super PAC affiliated with an organization representing "women opposed to abortion extremists in Congress" is shelling out $103,000 this month to target Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy in Florida.

Both Clinton and Murphy support women's abortion rights.

An independent expenditure report filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission by the Women Speak Out PAC shows the money going toward payroll, mileage and stickers and shirts for door-to-door canvassers in September.

Also Friday, the group declared similar expenditures for canvassers against Clinton and Democratic U.S. Senate candidates in two other states: Deborah Ross in North Carolina and Ted Strickland in Ohio.

The Women Speak Out PAC is a partner of the Susan B. Anthony List, a 501(c)4 political non-profit. The organization doesn't list Murphy's opponent -- incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio -- as among its endorsed candidates.

Photo credit: AP

Pro-choice group goes after Rubio over Zika, abortion rights

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@ByKristenMClark

A national pro-choice group has launched a six-figure ad buy in two Florida TV markets to attack Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio over his stance on women's abortion rights as they relate to the Zika virus.

NARAL Pro-Choice America -- which has endorsed Rubio's opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy -- is spending $175,000 to run its 30-second spot in Orlando and West Palm Beach and to publish digital ads online.

Palm Beach County has had two confirmed cases of locally-transmitted Zika, but no local cases have been reported in Orlando.

MORE: Daily Florida Zika virus tracker

The ad criticizes Rubio for his position on abortion -- he opposes it -- and accuses Rubio of "putting his agenda ahead of the health and safety of women and families."

Rubio said last month his opposition to abortion includes pregnant women infected with Zika. The virus can cause certain birth defects, such as microcephaly, if a woman is infected during pregnancy.

One of the Zika funding bills Rubio supported in late June had language that was a non-starter for Senate Democrats because it cut out Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico from funding that would help the island combat the virus. (A month earlier, Rubio also supported a Zika funding bill that didn't include any such condition; both bills were $800 million short of the $1.9 million requested.)

MORE: "Politifact: Democrats stretch impact of Planned Parenthood exclusion in Zika bill"

"Rubio's actions are putting women and families in Florida, ground zero for this outbreak, at much greater risk," Sasha Bruce, NARAL's senior vice president for campaigns and strategy, said in a statement. "Women deserve a full range of health care options, including abortion, not options limited by Senator Rubio’s extreme and out-of-touch political beliefs. This is true always, but especially during a public health crisis."

When asked for a response to the ad, Rubio's campaign revised and reiterated a statement released earlier today -- accusing Murphy "and his allies" of continuing "to exploit this public health and economic emergency in order to score political points."

NARAL is running similar attack ads against Republican U.S. Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

The ads' launch comes as Congress goes back in session, with no visible end to the stand-off over Zika funding. Meanwhile, Rubio and Murphy on Tuesday continued to criticize each other on the funding issue.

Murphy, Rubio continue to swat at each other over Zika

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@ByKristenMClark

With Congress back in session today after its summer recess, U.S. Senate candidates Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy continue to blame each other for Congress' inaction on passing a $1.9 billion measure to respond to the growing Zika crisis in Florida.

Murphy, a two-term Democratic congressman from Jupiter, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that securing Zika funding was one of his top priorities as he goes back to D.C. and he again accused Rubio of not doing his part. Rubio has lobbed the same attack at Murphy.

Murphy, in particular, criticized Rubio -- the Republican incumbent seeking a second term -- for "not being able to deliver" on a "clean" Zika bill and for having "very little pull there with leadership in the Senate."

But Murphy, along with other members of Florida's congressional delegation, hasn't proven much clout in influencing the funding debate in the House, either.

When asked about what he has specifically done, Murphy on Tuesday pointed to collaboration with other House members on legislation in the spring and said he will "continue staying in touch with both sides of the aisle."

Continue reading "Murphy, Rubio continue to swat at each other over Zika" »

Murphy challenges Rubio to sign pledge to serve 6-year term

Rubio murphy

@ByKristenMClark

Doubling down on a repeated line of attack against Marco Rubio, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy wants the Republican incumbent to now sign a pledge committing to serve a full six-year term, if re-elected in November.

Rubio has been noncommittal on the idea -- leading Murphy to pound Rubio with criticism that he is "only interested in using this Senate seat to pursue his personal, political ambition."

"Floridians deserve a full-time senator who will serve a full term in office. They deserve assurance from Senator Rubio that he won't just abandon them to run for president in 2020," Murphy, a two-term congressman from Jupiter, said Tuesday in a conference call with state and national media.

Read Murphy's letter to Rubio and his signed pledge here.

Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas didn't directly respond to Murphy's challenge and instead pivoted to criticizing Murphy for not taking Rubio up on a challenge he first made last week asking Murphy to commit to six debates.

"Patrick Murphy should agree to debate this subject," she said in a statement. "But because he was ranked one of the most ineffective members of Congress, has achieved nothing in four years as a congressman and holds radical liberal views about health care, the economy and national security, he is afraid to agree to multiple debates."

"His privileged upbringing has left him with a sense of entitlement, which is why he is often too busy spending time on his yacht in Nantucket instead of working in Florida," she added.

Murphy said again Tuesday that how many debates he has with Rubio will be contingent on Rubio committing to a full six-year term. Murphy offered that condition as a counter-challenge to Rubio's. The two have agreed to only one debate so far.

"I'm very excited to debate Senator Rubio multiple times," Murphy said. "I think it's a great opportunity to show what a contrast there is between the two of us. ... I'm going to take his challenge seriously, if he commits to serving a full term."

Murphy had previously pledged to debate his primary opponent, fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson -- citing a similar contrast a debate would showcase between them -- but he never did.

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

August 31, 2016

With tropical storm on the way, Tim Kaine cancels next Florida visit

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@ByKristenMClark

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine won't be coming back to Florida this week after all.

An intensifying tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico has prompted Kaine to cancel a planned trip to Pensacola and Panama City on Thursday and to Jacksonville on Friday.

Hillary Clinton's campaign previously said that, in Pensacola, Kaine was to meet with military families. And in Panama City and Jacksonville, Kaine was expected to to talk about Trump's rhetoric regarding African Americans, Latinos, women, veterans and people with disabilities.

It's unclear whether the trip will be re-scheduled.

The National Weather Service upgraded Tropical Depression 9 into Tropical Storm Hermine this afternoon. State officials caution the possibility of it reaching Category 1 Hurricane status by the time it makes landfall in the Big Bend area, likely later Thursday.

Kaine was in Florida just last week for a couple fundraisers, a voter registration event at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee and other events in South Florida.

Photo credit: Hillary Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine speaks at Florida A&M University on Aug. 26, 2016 to encourage voter registration. Joe Rondone / Tallahassee Democrat

With 15 percent of vote, Pam Keith makes her mark in Florida U.S. Senate primary

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@ByKristenMClark

Throughout her unsuccessful 22-month bid to be Florida's next U.S. senator, Democrat Pam Keith was ever the underdog -- quietly campaigning across the state almost daily on her own, with an assist from a small but loyal band of staff and volunteers.

She gained some momentum over those months by offering specific policy ideas and delivering energetic and charismatic speeches to groups large and small, but she faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles from the start.

The party establishment ignored her.

Donors didn't flock to her; she had to partially self-fund.

Florida and national media generally paid her almost no attention until this summer and, even then, there wasn't much widespread coverage.

She wasn't even included in most statewide polls and those that did pegged her most often with single-digit support. One in March had her as high as 11 percent support.

But despite that, Keith -- a Miami labor attorney and Navy veteran in her first bid for public office -- somewhat beat the odds after all.

More here.

Scott praises Beruff after loss then (13 hours later) Rubio on victory

Beruff rubio

@JeremySWallace & @ByKristenMClark

Carlos Beruff may have lost badly in his race against U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, but his effort is still winning praise from Gov. Rick Scott who helped encourage Beruff to run and heaped praise on him during joint speaking events with Beruff. Within minutes of Rubio salting away the win, Scott took to Twitter and Facebook to congratulate Beruff -- not Rubio.

Beruff wasn't the only one to get praise from Scott. The governor also celebrated Republicans Matt Gaetz and Francis Rooney for winning GOP primaries for Congress.

But Scott conspicuously waited almost 13 hours to congratulate Rubio -- the Republican incumbent who trounced Beruff 72 percent to 18 percent in unofficial results from Tuesday's primary.

The Facebook post this morning praising Rubio came shortly after a Herald/Times reporter asked Scott's spokeswoman why the governor had congratulated Beruff but not Rubio.

August 30, 2016

Rubio won't commit to full US Senate term; Murphy retorts: 'I can'

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@ByKristenMClark

As Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio both face primaries today that are expected to vault them into a head-to-head general election contest, Murphy is chiding the Republican incumbent for a vague answer Rubio gave CNN this week about whether he'd commit to serving a full six-year term if re-elected to the U.S. Senate.

Rubio told CNN's Manu Raju: "No one can make that commitment."

"You know now what the future is going to hold in your life personally or politically," Rubio continued. "I can commit to you this, if I'm running to a be a US senator, I'm prepared to let the US Senate be the last political office that I ever hold."

Murphy -- a two-term Democratic congressman from Jupiter expected to win today's primary -- was quick to pounce on Rubio's non-committal answer with a two-word pledge this morning:

Rubio's response on this topic has been consistent since he announced in late June that he'd changed his mind and would seek re-election to the U.S. Senate after his failed presidential bid. But by not committing to serve a full second term, Rubio has created a prime line of attack for Murphy, who argues Rubio is already jockeying to run for president again in 2020.

Photo credit: Jose A. Iglesias / El Nuevo Herald

August 26, 2016

RNC chairman criticizes Kaine's 'dirty, deplorable attacks' in Tallahassee

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@ByKristenMClark

Comments that Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine made this afternoon in Tallahassee linking Donald Trump to white supremacists are drawing backlash from national Republicans.

In a statement this evening, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Kaine had "sunk to new lows with dirty and deplorable attacks which have no place in this campaign."

"No matter how desperate he is to distract from his running mate Hillary Clinton’s litany of corruption scandals, there is no excuse for these vile and baseless smears," Priebus said.

While Kaine spoke at a get-out-the-vote event at Florida A&M University, he pivoted to attacking the Republican presidential nominee and the support he has gotten from people with racist views -- a day after Clinton delivered a speech in Nevada condemning Trump's rhetoric and accusing him of "helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party."

Kaine in Tallahassee criticized Trump for "being behind the scurrilous and, I would say, bigoted notion that President Obama wasn't even born in this country."

"And Donald Trump has continued to push that irresponsible falsehood, all the way up til now, and that's the difference in this election," Kaine said.

The line that infuriated Priebus:

"Ku Klux Klan values, David Duke values, Donald Trump values are not American values. They're not our values, and we've got to do all we can to fight, to push back and win," Kaine told the crowd of FAMU students.

Photo credit: Joe Rondone / Tallahassee Democrat