December 06, 2016

Annette Taddeo Goldstein says if she wins Miami-Dade Democratic Party spot she won't step aside for Stephen Bittel

Annette_Taddeo_MJO_2

@amysherman1

Annette Taddeo Goldstein says she is running for Miami-Dade Democratic Party vice chair tonight and says if she win she won't step aside for Stephen Bittel, the wealthy Coconut Grove developer some Democrats want to run for state party chair.

Taddeo Goldstein quietly withdrew from the race for state committeewoman a few days ago and didn't respond to questions about her plans until today when she confirmed she will run for vice chair.

There were rumors that Taddeo Goldstein planned to run and had agreed that if she won she would drop out to allow for a new election to fill a vacancy which would allow Bittel to run. According to the rules, he isn't eligible to run for Florida Democratic Party chair since he holds no position with the county party right now. 

But Taddeo Goldstein, a past county party chair, said that Bittel had not asked her to step aside.

"There is no deal," she said. "Nobody asked me to step aside."

In an email to fellow Democrats Tuesday afternoon, Taddeo Goldstein wrote:

"During the time that it is most critical for us to work together to defeat the GOP’s hateful agenda, I have instead seen infighting, backstabbing and lies being spread to manipulate our State and local party’s elections. There’s been lies about my not running for state committeewoman because of some kind of deal.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The truth is I decided not to run for committeewoman because I was sickened by all of this. If we want our party to be successful, we have to stop the infighting, the backstabbing, etc. We have to start focusing our efforts on defeating the GOP, instead of defeating our fellow democrats."

Taddeo Goldstein, an unsuccessful candidate for Congress and lieutenant governor, said she may run for Florida Democratic Party chair.

"I have not ruled that out," she said. 

About 200 Democrats in Miami-Dade will elect a chair, vice chair, and state committeeman and woman tonight. The election has created much turmoil and drama as various candidates have dropped in and out of races and activists have battled on social media and in emails. 

It's unclear if any of the candidates have agreed to drop out for Bittel. Bret Berlin, the current state committeeman seeking re-election, and Juan Cuba, one of nine chair candidates, both said if they win they will remain in the position.

The outcome in Miami-Dade matters statewide because the committeemen and women in each county get to vote on the Florida Democratic Party chair in January. The activists vote based on a formula set according to the number of registered Democrats in each county which means that Miami-Dade and Broward have a powerful voice.

There are a long list of potential candidates for the Florida Democratic Party chair including Dwight Bullard, who lost his re-election for state Senate and Susannah Randolph, former district director for U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

 

December 04, 2016

Annette Taddeo Goldstein drops out of Miami Dade Democratic Party race

Annette_Taddeo_MJO_2

@amysherman1

Annette Taddeo Goldstein is no longer running for a Miami-Dade Democratic Party leadership position.

Taddeo's name is no longer on the online roster of candidates for the election Tuesday. She had previously said she would run for state committeewoman, a position that holds a powerful vote in the selection of the next Florida Democratic Party chair in January.

Taddeo didn't respond to a text message or voicemail today asking why she is no longer running and if this means she has ruled out running for Florida Democratic Party chair. Taddeo lost a Democratic primary for Congress to former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia in August and in 2014 was former Gov. Charlie Crist's running mate for governor in his unsuccessful attempt to defeat Gov. Rick Scott.

On Tuesday, about 200 county Democratic activists will elect a new chair, state committeeman and committee woman and other leaders. The key question on Tuesday will be what sort of maneuvering Democrats may do in an attempt to make it possible for Stephen Bittel, a prolific fundraiser and Coconut Grove developer, to run for state chair. (Multiple candidates are considering running for chair.)

Currently Bittel is not a precinct committeeman, a prerequisite for the statewide position. Bittel told the Miami Herald in November that he "might" run but he has been working the phones among Democrats which suggests that he will run if it's possible. Democrats are eager to elect a new chair who can bring in big bucks and increase turnout in 2018 to protect Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida's only statewide Democrat.

So far, Nelson has been publicly mum about his pick for state chair but look for him to possibly weigh in after Miami-Dade elects its leaders. Since Nelson could face millionaire Scott, he will certainly want a chair who can help him compete with fundraising.

State committeemen and women across Florida will elect a new chair in January to replace Allison Tant. They vote according to a formula based on the number of registered Democrats in their county which means that Miami-Dade and Broward get the highest number of votes.

Broward Democrats elected new leaders Saturday.

 

 

 

 

December 02, 2016

Nine Democrats to compete for Miami-Dade Democratic Party chair

Bullard_cropAP

@amysherman1

Sen. Dwight Bullard won’t run for chair again of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party but still plans to run for Florida Democratic Party chair.

Bullard will run for county party vice chair against activist Rubin Young

On Tuesday, about 200 members of the county party who represent their precincts will gather to elect a chair, vice chair and other leaders. (Here is the full roster of who is running.)

The outcome has ramifications for the state’s party leadership. The county party will also elect a state committeeman and committee woman and those two individuals will get to vote on the Florida Democratic Party chair in January. Across the state, the committeemen and women vote according to a formula based on the number of registered Democrats in the county which means that Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach carry considerable weight.

Here’s a look at the candidates running for positions in Miami-Dade:

State committeeman:

  • Bret Berlin: A business consultant, Berlin has served as the chair for 12 years and is former Miami-Dade chairman and supported Hillary Clinton during the primary. He says he hasn’t seen the DEC membership this low. “It's disappointing so few people are engaged -- it means we have to do much better job as a party to regain trust miami dade electorate and rebuild this party.”

(Any voting member can nominate himself or herself from the floor so it is possible he will face a competitor.)

State committeewoman:

  • Francesca Menes: She lost a race for state house in 2016 and is running for a state house race in 2018.
  • Annette Taddeo Goldstein: She has lost multiple races, most recently for Congress to former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia. Taddeo Goldstein has been mentioned as a potential state party chair candidate but didn’t respond to the Herald this week about whether she will definitely run. She is currently vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party and a past chair of the Miami-Dade party.
  • Elizabeth Judd: A retired AFSCME union business agent, Judd is a longtime DEC member.
  • Bess McElroy: A retired city of Miami personnel administrator, she unsuccessfully ran for state house twice. In the past she has served as vice chair and was the interim chair a few times.

The other two candidates are Mae Christian, Elizabeth Rodriguez and Elizabeth Washington-Wells who are also running for chair.

The other candidates for chair are:

  • Dr. Leonarda Duran: She is president of the Miami-Dade Democratic Hispanic Caucus and works as a therapist/life coach.
  • Tony Diaz: He runs an ad agency and is running for Miami City Commission in 2017.
  • Millie Herrera: She is a former appointee of President Barack Obama to the U.S. Department of Labor and a former chair of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida. She owns a public relations firm.
  • Rafael Velasquez: He lost a race for state house in 2002. Velasquez, a real estate broker, said he was on the national finance committee for Clinton.
  • Juan Cuba: He resigned as director of the Miami-Dade Democrats after the Nov. 8th election.
  • Fred Frost: Former president of the South Florida AFL-CIO and works for CWA International Union.
  • Ernesto Fernandez

This post has been updated to reflect additional candidates who signed up to run or switched races.

November 28, 2016

Miami Lakes councilman opens campaign account for 2018 state House bid

Mingo_frank@ByKristenMClark

Miami Lakes Councilman Frank Mingo will seek a seat in the Florida Legislature in two years.

Mingo filed paperwork last week with the Division of Elections to run as a Republican for the House District 103 seat. Current Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, is in his third term and plans to run for state Senate in 2018.

Although Mingo is the first to file for the seat, he is likely to have the backing of powerful House Republicans. He works as the supply chain manager for the Oliva Cigar Company -- the business of Miami Lakes Republican Rep. Jose Oliva, who is in line to take over as House speaker in 2018.

Mingo has lived in Miami Lakes since 1986 and has been a town councilman since 2013. Launching a campaign account now allows Mingo to begin raising money.

Photo credit: miamilakes-fl.gov

November 26, 2016

With Castro's death, Miami politicians spy opening for Trump to adopt Cuba hard line

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@PatriciaMazzei @doug_hanks

In Miami, the city where candidates built their careers on stridently resisting the Cuban dictatorship, Fidel Castro’s death marked the end of a political era — and, Cuban-American members of Congress hoped, the start of a new one, with reinvigorated support for a hardline policy under President-elect Donald Trump.

Republican politicians, some of them still uneasy about a Trump presidency, confidently declared Saturday that his incoming administration, set to begin less than two months from Castro’s unexpected demise, represents the best hope for the Cuban opposition — assuming Trump fulfills his campaign promise to sever the Cuba ties reestablished by President Barack Obama.

“President-elect Trump has correctly stated that Obama’s overtures to the Castro regime were one-sided and only benefited the Cuban regime,” said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, who wrote in Jeb Bush’s name for president instead of voting for Trump.

“I hope that the new administration, under the leadership of President Trump, seizes this moment as an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to the Cuban people that it will pressure the Castro regime by rolling back these executive actions of the Obama administration.”

Trump’s candidacy had managed to pull together a majority of Cuban-American voters, according to exit polls — but not necessarily their elected leaders, who denounced Trump’s rhetoric on immigrants, especially Hispanics, and reported business interest in Cuba. Castro’s death late Friday appeared to do more to consolidate his standing among Miami’s Cuban-American political establishment than anything he said during the campaign.

More here.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, el Nuevo Herald

November 21, 2016

Oscar Braynon, Lauren Book named Florida Senate Democrats' top leaders

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@ByKristenMClark

A longtime legislator from Miami Gardens will lead the Democrats of the Florida Senate for the next two years.

Sen. Oscar Braynon’s ascension to Senate minority leader was made official Monday evening in advance of Tuesday’s organizational session for the 2016-18 Legislature. He’s now in charge of a 15-member Democratic caucus, of which 11 are newly elected senators.

“I’m happy to be taking on that role,” Braynon said. “We’re going to have a bunch of blank slates when it comes to what happens in the Senate. There’s a lot of potential there.”

One of those newcomers is freshman Broward County Sen. Lauren Book, whom the Democratic caucus also unanimously elected as Braynon’s No. 2 in the role of Senate Democratic leader pro tempore.

Book, of Plantation, is a prominent advocate for victims of childhood sexual abuse and the founder and CEO of Aventura-based Lauren’s Kids. She is also the daughter of powerful Tallahassee lobbyist Ron Book, whom she called “her best friend, rock and mentor.”

Although the Republican majority in the Senate will drive the agenda, Braynon said his goal as minority leader is to continue pushing for Democratic priorities, such as equal pay for women and raising the minimum wage, protecting the environment, improving access to health care and strengthening public education.

Read more.

Photo credit: Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times

Florida Republicans to launch conservative coalition for immigration reform

@amysherman1

A group of Florida Republicans including two who were critical of Donald Trump will launch a conservative coalition that will make an economic argument in favor of immigration reform.

Floridians for Immigration Solutions will hold their kickoff event at Hialeah City Hall at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

“The effort is one of a dozen statewide conservative coalitions calling for a responsible solution to the country’s broken immigration system that secures the border, grows the economy, and recognizes that America cannot and should not engage in mass deportations of millions of productive members of society,” states a press release.

Trump made a series of immigration-related promises including that he would turn off the “jobs and benefits magnet” that attracts immigrants who come to the United States illegally. His  immigration plan also includes building a wall on the Mexican border, deporting criminals and ending Obama’s executive actions including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Trump has something in common with some Florida business owners: he has used H-2B visas to import temporary foreign workers at his Mar-A-Lago resort.

The coalition leaders include four Republican past or present politicians: Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, State Sen. René García, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Juan Zapata and former State Rep. J.C. Planas. The coalition also includes business leaders Julio Fuentes, CEO of the Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Mandy Llanes, chair of the Hialeah Chamber of Commerce.

Planas backed libertarian Gary Johnson but said on election day he wrote in former Gov. Jeb Bush’s name. He said the coalition will make an economic case about the need for immigration reform.

“The message of this is immigrants are not just an important part of our country -- immigrants are an important part of the economy,” Planas told the Miami Herald. “For all Americans to prosper and for us to keep the economy growing we have to make any immigration solution be as positive for economy as possible. We cannot let any sort of xenophobic feelings cause us to harm the economic recovery of the country.”

Garcia criticized Trump after he said that a judge in the Trump University case couldn’t be fair because the judge was of Mexican descent and Trump wants to build a border wall.

"These demeaning words seek to divide the country among racial lines, and that is simply contrary to the American values that have made our country great,” Garcia said in June. “It is shameful that Mr. Trump is using his public profile to force pressure on a reputable member of the federal judiciary to affect the outcome of a private civil matter. Republican or Democrat, black or white, we must stand in solidarity and denounce these blatantly racist remarks."

Hernandez, who told the Miami Herald that he voted for Trump, said he wants a path to legal status for certain undocumented immigrants. He said he wants the Trump administration to pursue: "a path to securing our border, restructuring the U.S. immigration system in a manner that supports economic growth, discourages illegal immigration, and creates a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants who are not a threat and are productive members of society."

The coalition is an initiative of the New American Economy, a bipartisan effort calling for immigration reform. The New American Economy is working toward having similar coalitions nationwide -- this is the first one in Florida.

“Our basic reason for being is to make the case of how immigration helps America and helps the economy,” said Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the New American Economy. “We want diverse political voices. It’s no secret the Republicans control everything, that is the reason why we are lifting up conservative voices now.”

 

Florida Legislature's leadership for 2016-18 includes major Miami-Dade influence

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@ByKristenMClark

For the next two years and potentially beyond, lawmakers representing Miami-Dade County are poised to wield extreme influence in the Florida Legislature — the likes of which they haven’t had in a decade or more.

At least seven Miami-Dade legislators — and potentially a few more yet to be announced — will hold powerful leadership positions from now through 2018 under incoming Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes.

These roles should ensure Miami-Dade’s mark on everything from school choice measures and gambling regulations to which local projects get funding priority.

The 2016-18 Legislature will be sworn in Tuesday during a one-day organizational session, when Negron and Corcoran will also formally take over as chamber leaders.

Both the new Senate president and House speaker have chosen Republican women from Miami as their top lieutenants: Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, respectively.

Below them will be a slew of committee chairs from Miami-Dade, too, who will have the ability — particularly in the House — to hold sway over statewide policy and the purse strings of the state’s $82 billion budget.

Among those chairs is Miami Lakes Republican Rep. Jose Oliva, who Corcoran named leader of the powerful House Rules and Policy Committee. Oliva is also what his Miami colleagues call the “speaker in waiting,” poised to succeed Corcoran as head of the chamber two years from now.

For local residents, these positions of influence for Miami-Dade legislators mean the senators and representatives they elected — especially the Republican ones, since that party holds the majority in both chambers — will be among the key decision-makers in Tallahassee with the ability to put the county’s needs and priorities at the forefront for possibly years to come.

“It’s access to where decisions get made,” Nuñez said. “We really are in a unique position and our citizens are the better for it.”

More here.

Photo credit: Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times

November 17, 2016

Miami-Dade declares Asencio finished ahead by 53 votes, but Rivera challenges result

via @glenngarvin

The recount of the nip-and-tuck legislative race between Democrat Robert Asencio and Republican David Rivera ended Thursday with Asencio 53 votes ahead — but even before the last ballot was checked, Rivera officially contested the election, a move that will likely delay the naming of a victor for weeks or even months.

After 10 hours counting ballots, the Miami-Dade County elections department declared that Asencio finished with 31,412 votes and Rivera 31,359 — a margin 15 votes closer than when the recount began.

The race was so close it actually triggered two recounts — the first by machine, and the second a hand-examination of ballots the machines thought were marked with votes for too many candidates or too few.

And it may get even tighter. Rivera’s lawyers asked elections officials to impound about 300 disputed ballots — mostly absentee ballots on which the voter’s signature was either missing or ruled not to match signatures in elections department records.

“We’ve already got affidavits from 59 of those voters saying they legitimately voted by mail and cast their ballots for me,” said Rivera, noting that would be enough to tip the election the other way.

More here.

Dwight Bullard and Millie Herrera could compete for Miami-Dade Democratic Party chair

@amysherman1

Millie Herrera, a former appointee of President Barack Obama to the U.S. Department of Labor, will run for chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, a challenge to the current chair Sen. Dwight Bullard of Cutler Bay.

If Bullard wins the chair post Dec. 6th, he may run for chair of the Florida Democratic Party -- one of several candidates who are vying to replace Allison Tant who announced after Hillary Clinton's defeat that she won't run again in January.

"I want to get back to getting out the vote and the grassroots level," said Herrera, who lives in the Kendall area and is president of a marketing and public affairs firm. "I don't want to run for anything else. I'm not using it as a springboard to anything." 

Bullard, a teacher at Coral Reef Senior High School, was first elected to the state house in 2008 and the state senate in 2012 and has also chaired the Florida Legislative Black Caucus. His name is well-known in county politics where both his parents previously served in the state Legislature. On Nov. 8, Bullard lost a race to State Rep. Frank Artiles, a Republican, in a heavily Hispanic district.

Herrera, who was born in Cuba and is a former chair of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida, says the party needs more outreach to Cuban-American and young voters.