June 21, 2016

Alan Grayson: It would be 'delightful' to take on 'incompetent' Marco Rubio


Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alan Grayson blasted his potential opponent and current Republican Sen. Marco Rubio as "incompetent" and someone who has "no flare" for the elected office he's in.

"I think it's a delightful situation," the Orlando congressman said Tuesday afternoon of the prospect of facing Rubio, who has yet to decide whether he'll change his mind this week and seek re-election. (The deadline to qualify is noon Friday.)

Grayson made his remarks during a press conference he held in Tallahassee, after filing his paperwork to qualify for the August primary ballot and, then, urging Republican legislative leaders at the Florida Capitol to take up gun control measures after the Orlando shooting last week.

Grayson -- one of five Democrats now seeking Rubio's seat -- slammed the Miami Republican for his lack of productivity in the Senate, saying Rubio has produced only one bill in his five years there. Grayson, who calls himself the "congressman with guts," touted his own record of passing bills and amendments through the U.S. House.

<<< Politifact: "Alan Grayson says he passed more bills and amendments than any other current member" >>>

"I think it's shocking that anybody who is that incompetent -- if I may use that term -- as a legislator would be considered for an extension on his contract, much less a promotion to the presidency," Grayson said. "I was genuinely puzzled why anybody thought he was a plausible candidate for the president because, frankly, he's so bad as a senator."

"Maybe if he showed up more often he could get more things done," Grayson said, referencing Rubio's poor attendance record for which he's been relentlessly criticized. "I don't know why he wants to continue in the job. He doesn't seem to show any interest for it, and for God's sakes, certainly no flare. Maybe he should let somebody else do it for a while who has some ability to get good things done for the people of Florida."

"There's a reason why he's called 'No Show Rubio,' and I'm called the 'most effective member of Congress,' " Grayson added, citing praise he quotes often from Slate magazine in an article that was published three years ago.

Spokespeople for Rubio did not immediately return an email seeking comment this evening.

Grayson is running against U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, Miami labor attorney Pam Keith, Jacksonville attorney Reginald Luster and Orlando businessman "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

As Rubio Watch continues, Carlos Beruff makes play for Miami Spanish-language radio


In case there was any doubt that Republican Carlos Beruff plans to fight hard against Marco Rubio if the U.S. senator makes a last-minute decision to seek re-election, Beruff's campaign unveiled a new ad this week targeting Rubio's most loyal base: Cuban Americans in Miami.

The 60-second radio spot, which the campaign says is airing on local Spanish-language radio, highlights Beruff's Cuban bona fides. The ad is set up as a phone call, in which Beruff calls a female supporter.

"I like it when you talk about how your family came from Cuba, but why don't you tell about how they fought in the counter-revolution?" she says. Later, she adds: "And your uncle. Poor guy. What a man. He died in the Bay of Pigs along with so many others."

"If anyone understands the importance of a free Cuba, it's me," Beruff responds.

"But Carlos Beruff -- don't forget how politicians are here. They're already making atrocious insults," the woman warns. "I don't believe everything they say. But look, you have to talk more about the successful company you built yourself. You've built more than 2,000 houses here in Florida. And you're completely right about Washington. Those politicians forget who they're working for."

Concludes Beruff: "I think I'm going to let you record my next commercial."


Marco Rubio's presidential campaign account nearly empty

If U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio decides to run for reelection he will have to start fundraising from scratch because his presidential campaign account is nearly empty.

Rubio had about $24,000 cash on hand as of the end of May, according to his campaign finance report filed Monday. He has nearly $1.9 million in debt.

But should he decide to jump in to the race by the Friday deadline to qualify, Rubio will have a nationwide network of group and donors willing to spend big to support him. Rubio is mulling over a decision whether to run for reelection.

“There is literally one person in America who has the ability to dramatically increase the chances of Republicans keeping the majority – Marco Rubio,” said Steven Law, Senate Leadership Fund President and former Chief of Staff for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “If Marco’s in for Florida, we’re in for Florida, it’s just that simple.”

Object preview

Democrats are prepared to spend huge sums too. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee plans to spend $10 million while the Senate Majority PAC, which aims to elect Democrats, plans to spend $10.5 million starting in August.




June 20, 2016

Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson voted on party lines on gun votes

Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio voted on party lines this evening on four gun bills that surfaced after the Orlando massacre. All four bills died.

“What am I going to tell 49 grieving families? What am I going to tell the families of those that are still in the hospital fighting for their lives?' Nelson said at a news conference after the votes. 'What am I going to tell the trauma surgeon whose blood-stained shoes have been shown in a picture on so many news programs and who said he didn’t know, in the midst of the screams and the cries, if they were black or white, or gay or straight, as they brought in over 40, all at one time, into that trauma operating room?  What am I going to tell the community of Orlando that is trying to come together in the healing?  Sadly, what I am going to have to tell them is that the NRA won again.”

Rubio issued a long explanation for his votes. “At the end of the day, we know that law-abiding Americans will abide by whatever laws are passed affecting their Second Amendments rights, and that criminals and terrorists will keep ignoring these laws. Senators Cornyn and Grassley have struck the proper balance between addressing gaps in the law that could be exploited by terrorists while taking care not to place new burdens on lawful gun owners who simply want to protect themselves and their families. We know that the impetus for today’s votes was the Orlando terrorist attack. We can’t say for sure if anything in our laws would have stopped this maniac from carrying out some form of attack, but I know that the proposals I supported today would specifically fill gaps that are evident after this attack and protect people who may one day find themselves needing firearms to protect themselves. The Democrat proposals are politically-motivated and driven by a larger ideological agenda to disarm Americans.”

Democratic measures:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposal to allow the attorney general to deny firearms and explosives to suspected terrorists.

Nelson voted yes; Rubio voted no.

Sens. Chris Murphy, Cory Booker and Chuck Schumer plan to expand backgroud checks, including at a gun show.

Nelson voted yes; Rubio voted no.

Republican measures

> Sen, John Cornyn's plan to delay the sale of guns to terrorism suspect for three days or longer.

Nelson voted no; Rubio voted yes.

> Sen. Charles Grassley's plan to increase funding for background checks but not to expand them.

Nelson voted no; Rubio voted yes.

Full Rubio statement:

“I supported Senator Cornyn’s bipartisan proposal, because in the case of the Orlando terrorist, it would have left him on the national background check system for five years and triggered additional review when he attempted to purchase a gun. This reasonable proposal would protect law-abiding Americans by ensuring that their Second Amendment rights are not denied unless terrorism suspicions are adjudicated by a court, following actual notice and a hearing. After all, the standard for denying someone any constitutional right must be a high one; it cannot be ‘because the federal government says so.’

“I opposed Senator Feinstein’s proposal because it would not prevent terrorist attacks, but it would deny thousands of law-abiding Americans their constitutionally protected right to bear arms without any due process. Our terror watch lists are a mess that need to be fixed. We know there are thousands of innocent Americans who have been put on these lists without any justification, and getting their names cleared can be an arduous process. That is a fundamental violation of our constitutionally protected Second Amendment rights. Of course, no one supports terrorists getting any weapons, but we must also make sure that law-abiding Americans can own firearms to protect themselves.

“I opposed Senator Murphy’s proposal because it places too many burdens on law-abiding Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights, specifically as it relates to the transfer of firearms between friends and neighbors, and could criminalize many routine activities that occur between gun owners. This proposal places all the burdens on law-abiding Americans, who will grudgingly comply with everything, while criminals and terrorists ignore them. I instead supported Senator Grassley’s proposal, which makes improvements to the national background check system without infringing on the rights of honest, law-abiding Americans.

“The Orlando terrorist attack has left a major void in the hearts of all the impacted families, their friends and others like me who have been deeply moved by what we’ve learned over the last eight days about the 49 people who were killed. These were young people in the primes of their lives, sons and daughters, taken too soon. This terrorist attack reminds us of the high stakes in this war on terror and how we cannot continue to allow radical Islamic terror groups to plan and train for attacks against the United States and our allies abroad, or allow their efforts to inspire homegrown terrorist acts like this.  Even as we fight terrorists overseas and strengthen our abilities to prevent homegrown extremism, we cannot undermine the American people’s Second Amendment rights to protect themselves and their families.

“At the end of the day, we know that law-abiding Americans will abide by whatever laws are passed affecting their Second Amendments rights, and that criminals and terrorists will keep ignoring these laws. Senators Cornyn and Grassley have struck the proper balance between addressing gaps in the law that could be exploited by terrorists while taking care not to place new burdens on lawful gun owners who simply want to protect themselves and their families. We know that the impetus for today’s votes was the Orlando terrorist attack. We can’t say for sure if anything in our laws would have stopped this maniac from carrying out some form of attack, but I know that the proposals I supported today would specifically fill gaps that are evident after this attack and protect people who may one day find themselves needing firearms to protect themselves. The Democrat proposals are politically-motivated and driven by a larger ideological agenda to disarm Americans.”

Senator Cornyn amendment #4742:

·         This amendment provides law enforcement with appropriate tools to investigate and detain terrorists while preventing them from obtaining firearms and also protecting fundamental due process rights. After taking appropriate steps to confirm the identity of the prospective transferee and confirm or rule out their connection to terrorism, federal prosecutors will have the needed authority to arrest and detain terrorists immediately.

Senator Grassley amendment #4751:

·         This amendment addresses gun violence by improving federal and state law enforcement’s ability to share and access records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Additionally, the amendment provides better protections from gun violence by addressing mental illness in the criminal justice system and strengthening laws against trafficking of illegal firearms.

-- Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times

Republican, Democratic fields take shape for Florida U.S. Senate race


@ByKristenMClark & @MichaelAuslen

Three main contenders for Florida's U.S. Senate seat have officially secured their positions on the party ballots, and a couple newcomers also staked a claim in the race as the qualifying period for Florida's August primary elections began today.

Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republicans Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox all pre-filed their paperwork -- along with a $10,440 check -- earlier this month to qualify for the ballot.

Several other candidates actively campaigning have yet to file -- including several Republicans, and Democrats Alan Grayson and Pam Keith. They have until noon Friday to do so.

The Republican field remains largely in limbo, as uncertainty swirls about whether Sen. Marco Rubio will seek re-election despite promising during his presidential campaign that he would leave the Senate if he lost the March presidential primary.

Rubio has signaled for several weeks a growing change of heart and said last week, in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, that he was re-considering his pledge to become a private citizen again in 2017. He had said he would take this past weekend to consider his options.

Until he announces his plans, other Republican candidates appear to be biding their time. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, had not filed to qualify, as of this afternoon.

Lopez-Cantera, a close friend of Rubio, said he will step aside if the senator runs again. DeSantis has hinted that he also may leave the race if Rubio runs. U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, announced Friday that he will seek re-election to his congressional seat, rather than continuing his Senate campaign.

Meanwhile, the Democratic field grew more crowded with two previously unknown contenders qualifying: Jacksonville attorney Reginald Luster and real estate developer "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente, who still has an active presidential campaign based in San Diego.

Continue reading "Republican, Democratic fields take shape for Florida U.S. Senate race" »

June 18, 2016

Marco Rubio is 'most homophobic' senator, Patrick Murphy says


Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy says it's "appalling" that Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio could be using the Orlando shooting massacre to re-consider his decision to seek re-election this year, especially when Rubio is "the most homophobic senator" in the country, Murphy said.

Although he'd publicly said for months he wouldn't seek re-election, Rubio said on Monday -- the day after the shooting -- that he was "deeply impacted" by the tragedy and that it "gives me pause" to re-evaluate his political future. Then on Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera -- a current Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Rubio's friend -- told Politico that he'd urged Rubio to run for re-election while the two were sitting in Rubio's pick-up truck on Sunday evening, hours after the shooting.

Rubio has said he would take this weekend to think about his options.

Murphy initially avoided a firm answer when asked Saturday whether Rubio was using the terrorist attack as an excuse to run for re-election but Murphy then grew more direct in his answer.

"That's up to the voters ... but I cannot tell you how many phone calls I've received just in the last 48 hours about how appalled people are, especially, especially my friends -- our friends -- in the LGBT community," Murphy said.

"Many of which are actually Republican, right now calling me and saying, 'this is atrocious, this is despicable' that a senator who is one of the most homophobic senators in this country, someone who voted to keep this terrorist gun loophole open, who has a 100 percent voting record with the NRA, I think -- and now all of a sudden is going to use this horrific mass shooting, this act of terrorism, this hate crime to decide to run for the U.S. Senate? "

When pressed for his personal opinion, Murphy said he "certainly" agreed with those callers' assessment that Rubio is the most homophobic senator.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio is 'most homophobic' senator, Patrick Murphy says" »

June 17, 2016

Marco Rubio would crush GOP opponents, poll says

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio would crush the rest of the Republican candidates if he decides to run for reelection, according to a new poll.

The Saint Leo University poll shows that 52 percent of likely GOP voters would chose Rubio leaving the rest of the field in single digits and 27 percent in the don't know/unsure category.

The poll was done between June 10-16 -- so that doesn't fully capture what happened when Rubio told Hugh Hewitt on July 13th that the Orlando shooting had given him "pause" to think about his future. The online poll included 500 Floridians and has a margin of error of 4.5 percent but a margin of 7 percent among likely voters of either party due to the smaller sample size.

As Rubio plans to mull his decision about whether to run over the weekend, one candidate already exited the race: U.S. Rep. David Jolly will run for reelection. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has said he won't run if his friend Rubio runs.

Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox have vowed to remain in the race. U.S. Rep. Ron Desantis doesn't appear to be interested in running against Rubio.

On the Democratic side, the poll showed that don't know/unsure category represents 61.1 percent of the likely Democratic voters. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy at 15.7 percent slightly ahead of U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson at 13.5 percent.

The primary is Aug. 30th but some voters start casting absentee ballots in July.

While Marco Rubio mulls future, Democrats attack

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will be mulling his future this weekend as he decides whether or not to run for reelection. 

While campaigning for president, he repeatedly said he would either be in the White House or a private citizen in January 2017. When he dropped out in March, he initially stuck to his line about becoming a private citizen however there were signs in recent weeks that he was leaving open the possibility of running again.

When the Miami Herald asked Rubio in May if he would run if his friend Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera didn't ultimately run, Rubio dismissed that as a hypothetical and wouldn't elaborate.

Now the Democrats are pouncing with video clips showing multiple times that Rubio said he wouldn't run for reelection.

Here is one from American Bridge:


The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a video attack Rubio for missed votes and claiming he wouldn't run for reelection while running for president:




June 16, 2016

National Republican leader praises Carlos Lopez-Cantera for encouraging Marco Rubio to run


We caught up today with Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who hailed Florida's Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera as "a patriot, and an unselfish one at that" for encouraging Marco Rubio to run for a second term.

"It's a profoundly pivotal moment in the political history of Florida," Wicker said of Lopez-Cantera urging his longtime friend to run for the seat Lopez-Cantera has been pursuing for nearly a year. "I think he's showing great character, and it's the sort of character that Floridians can be proud of in their lieutenant governor, because he's put his heart and soul in this race for a year."

Lopez-Cantera remains a Senate candidate until Rubio announces a reelection campaign. Wicker said Rubio hasn't confirmed to him he will run again, but that Rubio's friends in Florida believe he will and "indications seem to be that he is headed in that direction."

Lopez-Cantera and David Jolly have said they would drop out of the race if Rubio runs (Jolly is expected to announce his own reelection campaign for the U.S. House on Friday), and Ron DeSantis implied the same today. That leaves self-funders Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox, who have said they won't drop out but would be under intense pressure to do so.

"If they ask me for my advice I would tell them Marco Rubio puts this (Senate seat) in the lean Republican column, and that is very important," the NRSC Chairman said by phone. "Who is majority leader of the senate is very important to our country over the next two years. Who sets the agenda is very important."

The NRSC has remained steadfastly neutral in the senate primary to date, he noted, but "It's clearly our policy at the NRSC to support incumbents when they're running for reelection."

- Adam Smith, Tampa Bay Times

June 15, 2016

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


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