October 25, 2016

Trump tries to win over Miami Cubans once again

Trump cubans

@PatriciaMazzei @doug_hanks

With Florida slipping away from his electoral grasp, Donald Trump devoted much of Tuesday to Miami’s Cuban Americans, the reliably Republican voters who have stubbornly resisted this year to lean decisively toward the GOP nominee.

Trump paid tribute to Bay of Pigs veterans who had honored him with a historic endorsement.

He listened to the mother of Brothers to the Rescue pilot shot down by the Cuban government over the Florida Straits.

“Very sad story,” Trump told Miriam de la Pena.

And he eagerly repeated criticism of rival Hillary Clinton when longtime Miami Republican donor and activist Remedios Diaz-Oliver declared, “She has never done anything right.”

“It’s just about true,” Trump said. “She’s never done a thing right. Bad judgment.”

Trump’s overtures reflected his broader problem two weeks from Election Day: He has yet to consolidate the conservative vote. The more time he spends trying to do so, the less time he’s got to try to persuade independents and moderates who decide general elections.

More here.

Photo credit: Evan Vucci, Associated Press

'Scandals. Corruption. Convictions': House GOP-backed super PAC debuts anti-Garcia ad


Democrat Joe Garcia gets a dramatic, black-and-white treatment in a new attack ad by a House Republican super PAC.

The ad, to begin airing Tuesday, refers to the convictions of Garcia's former chief of staff in a pair of campaign-related cases.

"Scandals. Corruption. Convictions," the ad says. "We can't let Joe Garcia run his scheme on us again."

Paying for the political commercial is Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC backed by the House GOP caucus. It's spending $1.4 million to try to help Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo hold on to the swing 26th district. The super PAC originally thought its campaign would cost $1.7 million, but the media buy was a bit less costly than expected.)

"Joe Garcia has spent more time answering for scandals, corruption, and convictions than standing up for Floridians," Congressional Leadership Fund spokeswoman Ruth Guerra said in a statement. "Floridians have had enough of Joe Garcia's schemes. That's why they've rejected him once, and they’ll do it again."

Garcia has repeatedly noted that he was never charged with any wrongdoing.

October 24, 2016

Miami Beach mayor's got a bus for fellow mayors to campaign for Clinton

Unnamed (1)

Here's Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine's latest contribution to the Hillary Clinton campaign: a bus.

Decked in Clinton's blue and white colors, the bus reads, "Mayors for Hillary." Underneath that, it says, "Clinton 'Souls to the Polls' Train."

The bus, organized by Levine and paid for by the Florida Democratic Party, has been rolling around Florida since last Wednesday, stopping at canvassing, phone-banking and other get-out-the-vote events. On Monday, it's in Miami-Dade County, hitting early voting sites and a Florida International University rally with Clinton's running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

Levine, a longtime Clinton friend and fundraiser, is part of her Florida "Leadership Council." She gave him a shout-out during her most recent Miami rally, which was focused on a key Miami Beach issue: climate change.

Frank Artiles manipulates facts in misleading attack ad on Dwight Bullard



Through a new Spanish-language TV ad and other campaign materials, state Senate candidate and Miami Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles is falsely telling central Miami-Dade County voters his opponent “voted to release violent criminals and sexual delinquents in our community.”

Artiles’ TV ad claims Cutler Bay Democratic state Sen. Dwight Bullard “was the only senator who voted against keeping our communities safe — the only one,” and that Artiles would be the one who would protect the communities of Senate District 40. He echoed the attack in an image he posted on Twitter, too, in which Artiles claimed he “led the way to keep sexual predators off the streets” while Bullard “voted in favor of releasing violent criminals.”

But Artiles’ assertions manipulate facts.

Bullard called the ad "disgusting" and another example of "gutter-level politics" from Artiles.

More here.

October 23, 2016

Trump plans visit to Cuban-exile brigade in Miami


Miami's veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion saluted Donald Trump picking him as the group's first-ever presidential endorsement. Now Trump is preparing to return the favor.

Trump plans to visit the 2506 Assault Brigade museum and library on Tuesday, the Miami Herald has learned. The Brigade emailed its members over the weekend to inform them that "we were contacted by his campaign to coordinate a visit...to discuss the Cuba issue."

Brigade 2506's executive board voted unanimously 10 days ago to back Trump. The group had never before made a presidential pick in its 55-year history. The endorsement came after Newsweek reported that Trump's casino company had violated the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba in 1998, when it paid a consultant to explore business opportunities on the communist island.

Days before that revelation, Trump the presidential candidate had pledged in Miami to espouse a hard line on Cuba policy, reversing President Barack Obama's approach.

Trump had said in a 1999 speech to the Bay of Pigs veterans that Fidel Castro has "been a killer." "He's a criminal, and I don't think you should reward people who have done what he has done," Trump said. The crowd cheered, "¡Viva Donald Trump!"

His local backers have pointed to that speech and a Herald op-ed at the time to evidence that Trump -- even if he did spend money in violation of the embargo -- changed his mind about it later.

"The Brigade's board is very proud about Mr. Trump's statements about canceling and reversing all the concessions made by President B. Obama to the dictatorship of the tyrants to our Homeland, trying to guarantee that they remain in power," reads the Brigade's email about Trump's visit to the group's "house." The museum is located at 1821 SW 9th St.

Recent polls show Trump splitting or only narrowly defeating Clinton among Florida and Miami-Dade County Cuban Americans, a sign that he has been unable to shore up support like his Republican predecessors have. Cuban Americans make up more than 70 percent of Miami-Dade's registered Republicans.

Trump's public schedule lists him holding a rally at 3 p.m. Tuesday in Sanford. He's been in Florida since late Saturday night, ahead of three days of campaigning in what for him is a must-win state against Hillary Clinton.

Photo credit: Tim Chapman, Miami Herald file


Bill Clinton drops in on black church in Miami Gardens


Worshipers at a Miami Gardens church got a little side of politics with their prayer Sunday morning when former President Bill Clinton stopped by to campaign for his wife.

"Just as it was history-making to have the first African-American president, it would be history-making to have the first woman president," he told more than 300 congregants at The Fountain of New Life, a nondenominational, predominantly black church.

Clinton praised President Barack Obama, who stumped for Hillary Clinton on Thursday nearby at Florida Memorial University. Both the president and former president had the same message for black voters: Go to the polls.

"Every election is the only time a member of this service has just as much power as the former president or the richest person in this country," Bill Clinton said Sunday. "It's not just who you vote for, it's whether you vote."

"You have a chance to send a signal to the world," he added.

Clinton was joined in church by AFSCME International President Lee Saunders and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson of Texas, both of whom will be rallying the labor vote Sunday ahead of the first day of early voting in Miami-Dade, Broward and other large Florida counties Monday.

Clinton is expected to visit at least one other church -- New Birth Baptist near Opa-locka -- Sunday. He wrapped up a two-day bus tour of Central and North Florida Saturday night in Pensacola. Hillary Clinton's running mate, Tim Kaine, is campaigning in Central Florida on Sunday and will be in Miami and Palm Beach on Monday, and Clinton herself will rally supporters in Coconut Creek on Tuesday.

The Rev. Wayne Lomax introduced Bill Clinton as "a young man from Hope, Arkansas," and asked churchgoers for a present ahead of Lomax's upcoming birthday: "Make sure that you're registered -- and that you vote," he said.

"Early voting starts tomorrow," he said. "Everybody say, 'Tomorrow!'"

They did.

Photo credit: Pool photo via Johnny Louis/jlnphotography.com

October 21, 2016

Small-town Florida mayor’s race: a tale of lawsuits, spies and window-peepers

Medley1 police lnew cmg
via @glenngarvin

Medley, a tiny industrial town just west of Miami International Airport, may have more warehouses than people, and its handful of residents are some of the poorest in South Florida. But that hasn’t stopped the candidates who want to be their mayor from playing hardball as the Nov. 8 election approaches.

Incumbent Mayor Roberto Martell says his only challenger, 52-year-old charity manager Lily Stefano, is a carpetbagger who hasn’t lived in the city long enough to run for office. He’s filed suit to have her thrown out of the race.

Stefano says the 55-year-old mayor is just peeved at her because she refused to let him use her foundation’s free-grocery program for Medley residents as a political tool to promote his re-election — so peeved that he canceled the city’s participation, potentially jeopardizing the hundreds of bags of free food the foundation hands out each week.

Political issues between the two? Not so many of those, unless you count the mayor’s plan to bring skyscrapers — his word — to Medley. He’s gotten the city council to lift all height restrictions and predicts a wave of cloud-kissing construction that will bring in legions of big corporate offices. Stefano is skeptical: “Really? Right next to an airport?”

More here.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, Miami Herald file

Obama endorses 13 Florida legislative candidates, including several in Miami-Dade races


President Barack Obama is supporting 13 Florida Democrats running for the state Legislature, the Florida Democratic Party announced this morning.

The list includes several high-profile candidates in highly competitive races -- many in Miami-Dade county.

Those include District 37 Senate candidate and current Miami state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez and District 39 candidate and political newcomer Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, of Pinecrest.

Both Rodriguez and Mucarsel-Powell are trying to unseat powerful Miami Republicans -- Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Anitere Flores, respectively -- and help Democrats narrow the Republicans' hold on the chamber majority.

On the House side, Obama also backed Miami-Dade legislative contenders Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich (challenging Hialeah Republican Manny Diaz Jr. in District 103); Nick Duran (running for Rodriguez's open seat in District 112 against Rosa Maria Palomino); Daisy Baez (running for the open District 114 seat against John Couriel); and Robert Asencio (who's in a bitter battle against former state Rep. David Rivera in District 118).

Many other Democrats also running against Republicans in Florida legislative districts weren't included in Obama's endorsement list, which is solely non-incumbents.

But noticeably absent from the list were state Sen. Dwight Bullard (who's running for re-election in District 40 in a heated race against state Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami) and District 38 Senate candidate and current state Rep. Daphne Campbell (who's running against former state Rep. Phillip Brutus).

Here is the full list of Florida legislative candidates Obama endorsed:


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October 18, 2016

Are politicians’ social media accounts public record? One man is suing Miami Beach to find out



If a municipal mayor tweets official city business or posts it on a Facebook page, is that a public record?

Local mortgage broker, radio broadcaster and civic activist Grant Stern certainly thinks so. He's suing Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who blocked Stern on Twitter and Facebook. Stern has been critical of Levine and the Beach after scientists found that water discharged into Biscayne Bay by the city's stormwater pumps contained pollutants.

Stern wants past tweets, the list of accounts Levine has blocked on Facebook and recordings of "The Mayor," a Sirius/XM radio program Levine hosts. The city has denied his requests.

Read more.


October 17, 2016

Miami Republicans Artiles and Bileca diverge in supporting Donald Trump

@ByKristenMClark & @MaryEllenKlas

Whether to continue supporting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is a decision that continues to divide Republicans in Miami-Dade County.

Miami Republicans state Rep. Michael Bileca and state Senate candidate and current state Rep. Frank Artiles gave nearly identical comments in separate interviews with the Miami Herald's editorial board on Monday in admonishing Americans' top choices for president this year.

"I can tell you right now that I think that both candidates are the most horrible candidates that have ever been put up for the president of the United States," Artiles said.

"I think we have the two worst candidates that either party has ever put up in the history of presidential elections," Bileca said.

But there's a big difference between the two legislators beyond that: Artiles supports Trump for president, while Bileca doesn't.

Continue reading "Miami Republicans Artiles and Bileca diverge in supporting Donald Trump" »