July 01, 2016

Rubio's lagoon visit to check out algae prompts critics to ask why he didn't pay attention before

via @learyreports

"Indian River Lagoon advocates ask: Where is Rubio?"

That was a TCpalm headline in September 2014, which began, “During this summer’s Indian River Lagoon crisis, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio — Florida’s most notable name on Capitol Hill — was neither vocal nor visible on the issue.”

Today, Rubio makes a visit to the area, a trip in his official capacity but one that serves his re-election campaign. Critics on both sides today called him out.

“Now that he’s surrounded by campaign photographers, Marco Rubio has suddenly found the time to address the toxic environmental strain that has been choking Florida waterways for years,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Max Steele. “What else could Floridians expect for a part-time Senator who abandoned the challenges facing the Sunshine State to pursue his presidential ambitions?”

GOP primary opponent Carlos Beruff issued a release laced with links to news articles and columns about Rubio’s absence on the water issue.

“From his absence during the lost summer of 2013 to his broken promise to hold regular discussions with stakeholders, Marco Rubio has failed to use his time and position in Washington to solve the problems impacting the Indian River Lagoon,” spokesman Chris Hardline said. “If Treasure Coast residents want a senator who will visit them every year and is committed to using his business experience to solve Florida’s problems, they should vote for Carlos Beruff. If they want more of the same inaction, then No-Show Marco is their man.”

Rubio is to hold a news conference about 11:45 a.m. His office in a news release noted how he wrote a letter urging the Army Corps to “take immediate action, including stopping discharges from Lake Okeechobee, to help Florida’s Treasure Coast.”

Rubio did pay a visit to the area before, but it came after mounting criticism that he was MIA.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

June 29, 2016

Poll: Marco Rubio leads Carlos Beruff by 64 (!) percentage points


Yes, you read that right.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has a whopping, 64-percentage-point lead over Republican primary challenger Carlos Beruff, according to a new poll commissioned for Associated Industries of Florida.

Rubio trounces Beruff 71-7 percent, with 18 percent of voters undecided, the poll found. Fifty-five percent of Rubio supporters are "hard" supporters, while 16 percent are "leaning" toward voting for him.

A similar AIF survey in April found 50 percent of respondents would back Rubio, who was then not running for re-election and held a 42-point margin over his nearest competitor.

Now Rubio is formally a candidate. And Beruff is the only significant rival he's got left. (Two others on the ballot, Ernie Rivera and Dwight Mark Anthony Young, polled at 2 percent each in the latest AIF poll.) 

Voters also view Rubio far more favorably than Beruff and than presumptive GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who won't be on the August ballot. Rubio's favorable-unfavorable numbers are 71-21 percent, compared to Trump's 62-32 percent and Beruff's 11-9 percent.

Rubio's favorability rating is even higher among Hispanics: 83-7 percent, compared to Trumps's 44-46 percent and Beruff's 10-15 percent. That means Trump and Beruff are underwater by a net 2 percent and 5 percent among Hispanics, respectively.

It's the first survey conducted since Rubio declared for re-election. The survey was conducted by TelOpinion Research for Tallahassee-based AIF, a business group that has a strong track record in recent election cycles. The poll of 750 likely voters conducted June 27-28 has an error margin of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points. A June 25-27 poll conducted for News 13/Bay News 9 found Rubio with 63 percent support, followed by "undecided" at 13 percent and Beruff at 11 percent.

The latest AIF sample includes so-called "surge" voters, the voters who typically don't vote in GOP primaries but nevertheless cast ballots March 15.

"When the dust settled and we were able to analyze the final electorate, we found that voters with little to no history of voting in regular Republican primaries...made up 1.2 million of 2.3 million Republicans that voted," AIF political chief Ryan Tyson wrote in a memo to the group's members. "This turnout dwarfed the last two regular Republican primaries where 1.2 million and 1 million Republicans showed up for the regular 2012 and 2014 primaries."

The surge voters aren't necessarily new to politics, because they tend to vote in general elections. The Aug. 30 primary is a different beast; AIF asked voters if they intend to vote then.

--with Mary Ellen Klas

Environmentalists question Nelson, Rubio move on Biscayne National Park

via @jenstaletovich

A marine preserve in Biscayne National Park — a key piece of a new management plan 15 years in the making and designed to protect Florida’s dwindling reef tract — may be derailed by a new bill proposed by Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio.

The bill, proposed Friday and fast-tracked through a committee hearing, would undo the preserve and require the National Park Service to consult with Florida wildlife managers, who opposed the preserve.

“This is a reasonable bill that will ensure the park consults with the state and uses the best available science moving forward,” Nelson said.

Rubio called the bill, dubbed the Access to Sportsfishing Act of 2016, a “model to address the proposed closure.”

But environmentalists say the rare move by Congress sets a dangerous precedent “that would block the National Park Service from doing its legal authority to protect America’s national park,” said Caroline McLaughlin, Biscayne program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association.

More here.

Rubio, Nelson help push Puerto Rico rescue bill

via @learyreports

Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio this morning helped advance legislation to ease Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

The bill (read the details here) would restructure territory’s finances and create an oversight board. The Senate could take a final vote later this week, just in time for a July 1 deadline on a $2 billion debt payment.

“This legislation that the House has crafted is certainly not the bill that I would have crafted, but it's the only bill that we have before us that could get by the Tea Party element in the House of Representatives,” Nelson said. “It's not ideal, particularly with regard to the labor provisions in the bill and the way the oversight board is organized. And you'll hear that bipartisan attacks against the bill in the Senate, well-meaning and well-felt, but this legislation is needed to get Puerto Rico out of this immediate crisis.”

Rubio was among opponents of Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

“While some form of debt restructuring may become necessary at some point, it should be a last resort with the onus first being on San Juan’s politicians to get their fiscal mess in order and adopt pro-growth policies,” Rubio wrote in opinion column that ran in Florida Today. “Only then will the conditions for long-term economic growth and prosperity in Puerto Rico exist.

“But Congress has a role to play too, given that our Constitution gives the House and Senate responsibility over all U.S. territories like Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) is an appropriate first step by Congress to deal with this calamity. The bill would create a fiscal oversight board to help fix the mess, ensure that bondholders’ rights are protected and make sure a taxpayer bailout does not happen. Iunderstand that federal oversight is a tough pill to swallow for some on the island – and it’s an option I don’t take lightly, given my belief that government usually works best when it is closest to the people, not dictated from Washington. But in Puerto Rico’s case, it has become a necessary condition to ensure that tough decisions are made now, so that an even bigger crisis can be avoided.

Carlos Beruff, Rubio’s GOP primary opponent, used it as another attack point.

“A bailout by any other name is still a bailout,” Beruff’s campaign said in a statement. “In true Washington fashion, they’ve tried to hide the bailout from the people of Florida in the latest version of the bill. But the Puerto Ricopackage supported by Marco Rubio and Barack Obama leaves the taxpayers of Florida on the hook for Puerto Rico’s fiscal insanity and no Washington spin can hide that fact. Carlos Beruff is committed to using his business experience to give Washington’s out of control spending a serious reality check. Marco Rubio, on the other hand, has done nothing to fix this country’s fiscal mess and now wants to leave the taxpayers on the hook for anotherbailout.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

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


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

Jeff Atwater, Adam Putnam, Steve Crisafulli endorse Marco Rubio


Marco Rubio rolled out Senate re-election endorsements Tuesday from top Florida Republicans: CFO Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli.

Here are their statements of support:

From Atwater: "Marco's ability to communicate the conservative principles that we so desperately need is second to none. His vision for our country, and his work in the U.S. Senate on behalf of Floridians is something I am proud of, and why we need Marco to continue his service."

From Putnam: "Now, more than ever, we need Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. The control of the Senate is going to come down to Florida, and without a Republican majority, we would be giving a green light to the disastrous policies of the last eight years. With Marco, we have the power to determine a Supreme Court nominee, the future of the disastrous Iran deal, and the future of our country, based on conservative policies and ideals. I wholeheartedly endorse Marco in his re-election bid, and I encourage all Floridians to unite in support."

From Crisafulli: "This will be a pivotal election in our nation's history. I commend Senator Rubio on his decision to run for re-election and will do everything in my power to ensure that he wins in November.  Marco has a proven conservative record of leadership for Floridians, whether that be in the state legislature or the U.S. Senate. We must unite our party, and I ask all Floridians to join me in supporting Marco Rubio in his re-election bid."


PORK PAC and other D.C. interests to fundraise for Marco Rubio

Rubio invitevia @learyreports

Marco Rubio may talk down Washington, but establishment Washington's big money will play a key role in his re-election campaign beginning Wednesday.

A fundraiser that evening features a long list of special interests (PORK PAC!) plus Mitch McConnell and more than two dozen other senators. Cost is $500 to $5,000.

It displays the advantage the incumbent has and how eager colleagues are to retain him.

The newly formed Rubio super PAC, Florida First Project, is also focused on an aggressive fundraising schedule in the early stages of the campaign. We're told there are no plans (at this point) for a dark money group, one of which spent millions in support of Rubio during the presidential campaign.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

June 27, 2016

Beruff casts Rubio's responses on re-election flip-flop as robotic


When he announced last week that he would seek re-election to the U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio refused to commit to serving a full, six-year term -- and not run for president in 2020.

He gave the same answer in several interviews, that he's done making "unequivocal" statements about his political future.

The responses were grist for the campaign of Rubio's Republican challenger, Carlos Beruff, who mashed them together in a new web video that hits Rubio twice: over flip-flopping on his promise to leave the Senate, and over sounding "robotic," as he did during a presidential debate that in retrospect might have killed his White House candidacy.

"The voters of Florida deserve a Senator who is committed to doing the job he's been hired to do, but that's not what they'll get with Marco Rubio, who won't even commit to serving a full six-year term or deny he won't use the seat to run for president again," Beruff spokesman Joanna Rodriguez said in a statement. "Floridians are tired of Marco's robotic responses and Washington-approved talking points. It’s time for a change. We can't afford six (or less) more years of the same old Marco."

Rubio made the TV rounds over the weekend, appearing not only on CBS News' Face the Nation but also on the Sunday morning shows of local affiliates for CBS, ABC and Univision.


June 24, 2016

Lopez-Cantera bids Senate campaign farewell with call to supporters


Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera said good-bye to his U.S. Senate campaign Friday with a call to supporters in which he thanked them and promised to be "fully behind" Marco Rubio's re-election bid.

"I'm going to do what I can to help Marco," Lopez-Cantera told the Miami Herald after the call.

That's in contrast to Gov. Rick Scott, who is sitting out the Republican primary between Rubio and Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff.

Lopez-Cantera, who stepped aside after urging Rubio to run, got in a jab at Beruff, noting he didn't show up to the last grassroots event Lopez-Cantera attended recently in Venice, near Sarasota.

This will be the first election since 2006 in which Lopez-Cantera, a former state representative and Miami-Dade County property appraiser, isn't on a ballot.

He said he might attend Rubio's first fundraiser, Sunday in Miami.

Marco Rubio will kick off Senate fundraising Sunday in Miami

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Marco Rubio's donors have gotten back together to collect checks for the Florida Republican again, now that Rubio is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

They will launch their fundraising campaign Sunday just outside South Miami, a little more than three months after Rubio ended his bid for the presidency.

The reception is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the home of Claudia and Bernie Navarro, close friends of Rubio's who hosted donors several times during the presidential campaign.

At first, Rubio backers had hoped to turn a Friday night event for Carlos Lopez-Cantera's Senate campaign into a Rubio cocktail instead. But not all Lopez-Cantera donors -- such as Jeb Bush loyalist Jorge Arrizurieta -- are supporting Rubio. And a Rubio event would have required separate notice from a Lopez-Cantera one.

So Lopez-Cantera scrapped his reception -- and Rubio planned one of his own.

Suggested contributions are $10,800 per couple for the highest level of support. A "general attendee" is asked to give $2,700.

A new, pro-Rubio super PAC is churning out attacks against likely Democratic nominee and Jupiter U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. Rubio has one Republican foe remaining, Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff.

An earlier version of this post and its headline incorrectly stated the city in which the fundraiser will be located.