August 11, 2016

No suspense here: Rubio sweeps Miami-Dade GOP straw poll


Not even the chairman of the Miami-Dade County Republican Party pretended the results of Thursday night's U.S. Senate straw poll would be a surprise.

"The very difficult tally," Nelson Diaz joked when executive committee members returned from counting the votes.

Hometown Sen. Marco Rubio won 58 votes. Rival Carlos Beruff won three. Four people left their ballots blank.

None of the candidates were present, though Rubio sent Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera in his stead. But Rubio called in to say thank you once the vote was in. 

"I don't even think I can get 95 percent in my own house, so I'm very grateful for that," he said.

He explained his absence by saying he was campaigning in Naples and taking one of his daughters to an event.

Photo credit: Lynne Sladky, Associated Press

PolitiFact: Did Carlos Beruff support Charlie Crist after party switch?


Florida’s GOP primary for U.S. Senate has turned into mutual finger-pointing over which candidate is possibly more like former Republican Charlie Crist.

A super PAC called the Florida First Project released an ad July 14 calling Sen. Marco Rubio’s primary opponent Carlos Beruff a "Charlie Crist Republican," a major insult among the Florida GOP faithful. The PAC supports Rubio’s re-election bid and is managed by several staffers from Conservative Solutions PAC, which backed Rubio’s presidential run.

"Beruff supported Crist even after he switched parties, and stabbed Republicans in the back," the ad says.

The line refers specifically to the Bradenton developer’s support for Crist’s 2010 Senate campaign against Rubio. Former Gov. Crist switched from Republican to having no party affiliation as Rubio’s campaign gained steam. After losing that race, Crist lost a 2014 re-election bid for governor as a Democrat, and currently is running as a Democrat for a U.S. House seat held by Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores.

Beruff has released his own ad counterattacking Rubio, accusing him of being a "political opportunist" like Crist.

We wondered whether Rubio’s challenge of Beruff’s Republican bona fides was correct. Did Beruff still support Crist after Crist became an independent candidate?

His actions at the time don't indicate Beruff shunned Crist entirely, despite what he says now.

See what Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact Florida found.

Murphy attacks Rubio over skipping newspaper editorial board interviews


In a week where Patrick Murphy is drawing criticism for avoiding voters, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate is accusing Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio of the same.

Expanding on attacks on Rubio's poor Senate attendance record, Murphy's campaign today blasted Rubio for "not showing up" to meet with the editorial boards of Florida's newspapers.

Such meetings are traditional in election years. They help educate newspaper editorial boards about the candidates and factor into any endorsements the boards might make ahead of Election Day.

Some Florida newspapers, including the Tampa Bay Times, are already announcing their endorsements for the upcoming Aug. 30 primary -- for which absentee voting is underway and early voting starts in several major counties next week.

The Sun Sentinel this week announced it wouldn't endorse in the Republican U.S. Senate primary between Rubio and Manatee County home-builder Carlos Beruff. The newspaper said Rubio ignored their invitations to meet with its editorial board and "we cannot find that he's met with any Florida editorial board."

Rubio has not met with either the Miami Herald or the Times editorial boards. Murphy sat down with each newspaper two weeks ago. 

"Marco Rubio didn’t show up for Florida in the U.S. Senate, and now he’s not showing up to meet with Florida press and constituents," Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement. "Meeting with editorial boards is a routine way for public servants to be held accountable for their actions — and Floridians deserve answers from a senator who has always put his personal ambition ahead of Florida. Floridians have tough questions for Marco Rubio. But, as usual, he's nowhere to be found."

In response, Rubio's campaign knocked Murphy for "desperately trying to change the subject after they were caught hiding their candidate from voters and the media for several months."

Continue reading "Murphy attacks Rubio over skipping newspaper editorial board interviews" »

New poll shows Marco Rubio's lead over Democrats evaporating



Marco Rubio's lead over either Democrat trying to block him from having a second term in the U.S. Senate is shrinking, a new poll of more than 1000 likely voters show.

Just 19 days out from the Florida primaries, Rubio now holds a 3 percentage point lead over Democrat Patrick Murphy, the new poll by Quinnipiac University found. If Rep. Alan Grayson is the Democratic nominee, Rubio would start that race with a 6 percentage point lead.

Rubio leads Murphy as the choice of 48 percent of voters versus 45 percent for the Democrat. About 7 percent did not have a choice. Against Grayon, Rubio was the choice of 49 percent, while the Democrat was the pick of 43 percent. About 9 percent did not pick either.

Rubio's overall lead looks a lot different than it did a month ago. In July when Quinnipiac last polled Florida, Rubio's lead over Murphy was 13 percentage points and his lead over Grayson was 12 percentage points.

Rubio's lead it thanks to independent voters. While Quinnipiac found independent voters in Florida are split nearly evenly between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket, Rubio has a commanding 10 point lead with independent votes in a matchup against Murphy and a 8 point lead among them if Grayson becomes the nominee.

"Sen. Rubio's 10-point lead among independent voters over Congressman Patrick Murphy and his eight-point edge over Congressman Alan Grayson is the Republican's best weapon in his reelection race," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

The Quinnipiac University poll from July 30 to Aug. 7, polled1,056 likely Florida voters and had a margin of +/- 3 percentage points.

Florida Republican and Democratic primary races are on Aug. 30.

Either Grayson or Murphy has to be hoping Republican Carlos Beruff can pull an upset against Rubio in the GOP primary. Against Beruff, either Democrat has a lead. The poll found Murphy was the choice of 48 percent of likely voters, while just 34 percent picked the Manatee County homebuilder. Another 18 percent said the did not know who they would vote for or would pick someone else. Grayson led Beruff 43 percent to 39 percent.

The close Senate race mirrors the presidential race, which Quinnipiac University on Monday which showed Hillary Clinton had a 1 percentage point lead over Donald Trump.

Quinnipiac also surveyed voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio, where two other U.S. Senate incumbents are battling to hold their seats and thus help keep the U.S. Senate in Republican hands. In Ohio, Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, has a 6 percentage point lead over Democrat Ted Strickland. In Pennsylvania, Democrat Katie McGinty leads incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey 47 percent to 44 percent.

If Clinton wins in November, Democrats would need to win 4 seats held by Republicans currently to regain the majority. Democrats are now have leads in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. If they hold on to all three, the would need to win just one of the seats in either New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Florida, four states that are expected to have close races in November.

August 10, 2016

Video: Patrick Murphy backer Alex Sink says he should debate Alan Grayson

via @adamsmithtimes

Former CFO and Democratic candidate for governor Alex Sink appeared as part of another star-studded panel on WEDU's Florida This Week in Tampa Bay last week and said it was "bad for democracy" that her favored U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy refused to participate in a televised debate with Democrat Alan Grayson.

"The optics look bad, I believe, for our candidates not to be willing to get up in front of the public and let the voters decide for themselves," Sink said. "I wish Patrick would get up and make his case for why he should be the nominee for the Democratic side, and likewise, I believe Marco Rubio ought to be out there debating Carlos Beruff."

Hillsborough GOP Chairman and former state Rep. Deborah Tamargo agreed that both Rubio and Murphy should debate their primary opponents. The segment starts at about 10:20:

Rubio names South Florida backers, and the list is long


Marco Rubio might be comfortably running in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, but he's still doing things like lining up names of GOP supporters across Florida, in a show of force against rival Carlos Beruff.

Rubio's South Florida "grassroots leadership team" completes his region-by-region effort to bring together the party's establishment and activists behind his re-election. Beruff has repeatedly scoffed at the tactic, saying he's running an insurgent, outsider campaign. Polls show him trailing ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

Here's Rubio's South Florida list:

Continue reading "Rubio names South Florida backers, and the list is long" »

Flap continues against Trump, Rubio for attending religious conference 2 months after Orlando shootings

via @learyreports

Criticism continues to mount over an appearance of Marco Rubio — and now Donald Trump — at a religious conference in Orlando this week that comes two months after the Pulse shootings that devastated the gay community and generated international mourning.

“Just when you think Donald Trump and Marco Rubio couldn’t go any lower, they announce plans to court anti-LGBTQ activists in Orlando. On Thursday, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio are going to seek votes from people who fundamentally believe we are not equal, who support dangerous and harmful conversion therapy and who have worked to export anti-LGBTQ hate abroad,” Human Rights Campaign said in a news release.

The American Renewal Project conference is being held Thursday and Friday at the Hyatt Regency. It is not open to the general public, or reporters.

Continue reading "Flap continues against Trump, Rubio for attending religious conference 2 months after Orlando shootings" »

With few public events, Patrick Murphy under fire for avoiding voters

Senate 2016-Florida (2)


Democrat Patrick Murphy talks often about needing to introduce himself to Florida voters. To illustrate his efforts, the U.S. Senate candidate has, for months, claimed an aggressive campaign schedule — “dozens and dozens” of events from Key West to Pensacola in the past year.

But this summer, the Jupiter congressman has actually had relatively few public campaign stops — prompting opponents to accuse him of hiding from voters with less than three weeks to go before the Aug. 30 primary and as mail-in ballots are already being cast.

Based on media reports, campaign announcements and social media posts by Murphy, the Herald/Times identified just 14 campaign events Murphy has made publicly known between June 1 and Aug. 9. More than half of those were since July 25, the week of the Democratic National Convention when Murphy ramped up his campaign.

By comparison, Republican Marco Rubio has had at least 23 public events since July 18, and Democrat Alan Grayson has had at least 27 campaign stops since July 3.

More here.

Photo credit: AP

August 08, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz bashes Rick Scott, Paul Ryan at Zika town hall


U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz pointed the finger at Gov. Rick Scott and House Majority Leader Paul Ryan for not protecting Florida and the nation from Zika.

In a town hall at a senior center in Pembroke Pines Monday morning, Wasserman Schultz bashed the Republicans in Congress and Ryan for leaving on recess without reaching an agreement on Zika funding.

“The reason we don’t have that bill on the president’s desk is that Republicans decided they were going to attach all these unrelated political riders onto Zika,” she said. “There were provisions like taking out funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Wasserman Schultz was referring to a House bill that would have blocked the flow of money to Profamilias, the Planned Parenthood chapter in Puerto Rico. However, the bill also provided funds that would potentially help clinics and hospitals throughout the island.

For months, the Obama administration sought $1.9 billion in Zika funding but the Senate and House sought lesser amounts and failed to reach an agreement.

Wasserman Schultz also called out Scott, a Republican, for his funding decisions.

“Gov. Rick Scott while he seems to be saying out loud he wants Congress and the President to provide more funding he conveniently leaves out he cut nearly $1 million dollars from mosquito control and closed down the state’s mosquito research lab a few years ago,” she said.

In June, the state allocated $26.2 million but as of Friday the state had released $1.9 million. Of that, $316,800 went to Miami-Dade County and $221,635 went to Broward. The money is for prevention and test kits, insect repellent and other mosquito control efforts.

At a press gaggle after the event, Wasserman Schultz was asked about Sen. Marco Rubio’s comments to Politico that he would oppose abortion for a Zika-infected woman.

“Sen Rubio has definitely been an ally and has continually pushed for the president’s emergency supplemental appropriations request and I give him credit for that and I’ve been glad to work with him on that,” she said. “But it's irresponsible to put limitations on how we combat a virus that can result in birth defects -- life-threatening birth defects -- for the babies born to pregnant women who have contracted the Zika virus and those decisions should be left between a woman and her doctor and the government should not be interfering in those decisions.”

Rubio is a longtime opponent of abortion rights while Wasserman Schultz has been a consistent supporter of abortion rights.

Wasserman Schultz held her town hall at the SW Focal Point Senior Center where most of the seniors appeared to already be there for their regular mahjong, dominoes or poker game rather than specifically coming to hear Wasserman Schultz speak.

Only two of the 16 locally acquired cases have been in Broward while the rest have been in Miami-Dade. In total, there are 422 cases, most of them acquired while traveling. The list includes 55 women who are pregnant and the most at risk because the virus can cause severe birth defects.

While Zika may not be a top concern among voters in western Broward, it put her in front of a reliable fan base: Democratic voters. She needs those voters now more than ever before because for the first time in more than two decades she faces a Democratic challenger: Tim Canova, a first-time candidate and Nova Southeastern University law professor from Hollywood. The last time the Weston Democrat faced a primary was in 1992 when she ran for the state Legislature. The Democrats are competing for attention in the Aug. 30 primary although many voters are already casting ballots by mail.

Candidates and politicians have used the virus to attack opponents or political parties and have portrayed themselves as fighting to combat the virus. On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton visits a clinic in Miami’s Midtown neighborhood.

In recent months, Wasserman Schultz has largely avoided joint appearances with Canova and instead has stuck to events such as the Zika town hall. Last week Wasserman Schultz said she would debate Canova but no specifics have been announced yet.

Photo is from a town hall last week in Sunrise (Sun-Sentinel)



August 07, 2016

Rubio opposes abortion for women with Zika

From Politico:

Sen. Marco Rubio said Saturday that he doesn’t believe a pregnant woman infected with the Zika virus should have the right to an abortion — even if she had reason to believe the child would be born with severe microcephaly.

"I understand a lot of people disagree with my view – but I believe that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws. And when you present it in the context of Zika or any prenatal condition, it’s a difficult question and a hard one," Rubio told POLITICO.

"But if I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life."

More here.

UPDATE: Here's U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Jupiter Democrat hoping to challenge Rubio in the Nov. 8 general election, weighing in with a statement:

Zika is most dangerous for women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, yet Marco Rubio still opposes a woman's right to make her own health decisions. Florida women need a fighter who will stand up for their right to choose and who is committed to getting our state the critical funding needed to fight this virus. It's clear that Marco Rubio will always put his ideology above women’s health care — and our families deserve better.