February 03, 2016

UPDATED Florida GOP accuses Democrats of pushing out would-be congressional candidate, who says party had nothing to do with it

@PatriciaMazzei

The Republican Party of Florida accused national Democrats on Wednesday of trying to “manipulate” a Miami-based congressional district primary after a would-be Democratic contender announced he would run for the state Senate instead of Congress.

“The Democrat leadership in Washington has once again worked behind the scenes to manipulate the primary process in Florida’s 26th congressional district by pressuring Andrew Korge not to primary their chosen candidate Annette Taddeo,” the Florida GOP said in a statement.

Korge said nothing of the sort when he made his decision to run for state Senate public earlier Wednesday. He said he would have a bigger impact in Tallahassee than Washington.

“I love my Republican friends – they have a great sense of humor,” Korge said in response. “I appreciate that. Any time they’re making jokes instead of destroying our state, destroying our environment and destroying our schools, that’s better for all of us.”

Democratic Party leaders, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, and Ben Ray Lujan, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, have fundraised for Taddeo and made sure to note that they would prefer to avoid a primary that could bruise their candidate and force her to spend money before against another Democrat instead of against the incumbent Republican, Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

That’s typical party business. But the GOP used Korge’s announcement Wednesday to note that the DCCC once got involved in a shady 2010 race in the same congressional district. The committee sent out mailers to boost a ringer tea-party candidate as a way to hurt the Republican in the race and boost the Democrat.

“Their continuous urge and attempt to decide the election behind closed doors before Floridians get a chance to vote is unacceptable and offensive to our democratic process,” GOP spokesman Wadi Gaitan said.

UPDATE: Here's what DCCC spokesman Jerome House had to say in response: "This sounds like the Congressman Curbelo Democratic Conspiracy Theory, 2.0. Republicans have lost all hope of winning this Democratic-leaning district, and are therefore obsessed with fabricating drama to distract from Carlos Curbelo's record that fails South Floridians."

 

Son of Hillary Clinton donor to file for Florida state Senate, not Congress

@PatriciaMazzei

Andrew Korge has made up his mind: He will run for the Florida state Senate -- and not Congress -- this year.

A Democrat and the son of prominent Hillary Clinton donor Chris Korge, Andrew Korge had filed to run for the Legislature before flirting with a congressional race

He told the Miami Herald he made up his mind after taking a hard look at the redrawn Senate map and considering where he might be able to get more done.

"To run for Congress is a tremendous honor, but at the end of the day, seeing what these folks in Tallahassee are doing with this session, it's just had a tremendous effect on me," he said. "I want to make an impact, too, and when you think of a freshman congressperson and a freshman state senator -- you can really do something in Tallahassee."

Among his top issues, Korge cited protecting South Florida from climate change and fracking, and defending abortion rights. He's also got an interest in education policy.

For Congress, Korge would have challenged Annette Taddeo -- and possibly former Rep. Joe Garcia, who has yet to enter the race but has made it clear he probably will. Garcia's candidacy would have made it more difficult for a political novice like Korge to survive a primary.

Korge plans to send paperwork to Tallahassee Wednesday filing for Senate District 39. The expected Republican candidate in that seat would be Sen. Anitere Flores of Miami, who would have to move to the district. Korge said he's intends to do the same.

The seat leans Hispanic -- which Flores is but Korge is not -- but also Democratic. Flores and Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard had worked out a deal where Flores would run for District 39 unopposed by a Democrat in order to avoid facing her colleague Bullard in District 40, where both now live.

Korge, who due to his family network would be less reliant on Senate Democrats' support, said talk of the agreement didn't sit well with him. "It is not uncommon or unusual for insiders in Tallahassee to cut deals at everyone else's expense. That's part of the frustration that everyone has with what's going on in Tallahassee. That's part of what needs to change."

February 02, 2016

Miami Beach mayor heads to New Hampshire to campaign for Hillary Clinton

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine plans to travel to New Hampshire Saturday to campaign for Hillary Clinton for president.

Ahead of next Tuesday's primary in the Granite State, Levine will stump for Clinton, a longtime friend. He is on her campaign's Florida Leadership Council. Bill Clinton endorsed Levine's mayor candidacy in 2013, lending him some star power.

Levine has called Clinton "the best candidate quipped to tackle" the challenges facing American cities.

Miami-Dade commissioners express fear of greater PAC disclosure rules

@MrMikeVasquez

Daniella Levine Cava joined the Miami-Dade County Commission a year and a half ago — unseating an incumbent commissioner with promises to restore the public’s trust and bring greater transparency to County Hall.

On Tuesday, Levine Cava found out just how hard it can be to put those promises into practice. At the final vote for Levine Cava’s proposed new political action committee law, which would require greater disclosures from local elected officials, Miami-Dade’s newest commissioner had almost no support from her colleagues.

Levine Cava’s proposal is relatively modest, and built to mirror existing regulations that apply to state politicians, who must file a disclosure for certain types of political action committees they are raising money for. If approved, Levine Cava’s ordinance would apply to county and municipal elected posts in Miami-Dade.

But county commissioners expressed all sorts of fears, and delayed any action for now. Commissioner Barbara Jordan said not everyone who’s asked to donate actually does so, and keeping track of it all isn’t easy.

“I may make a phone call, but there may not be a contribution,” she said. “I’m so forgetful, I don’t want to go to jail.”

Read more here

January 28, 2016

Miami-Dade mayor to Chris Matthews: Your 'Cubans' comment showed 'bigotry'

Gimenez letter@PatriciaMazzei

Note to Chris Matthews: When you dismiss two Republican presidential candidates as "Cubans," the largest Cuban-American community in the country might take offense. Starting with its mayor.

Carlos Gimenez, the Cuban-born Republican mayor of Miami-Dade County, wrote the MSNBC anchor Thursday to object to Matthews' comment earlier this week that Thursday night's GOP primary debate would be boring without Donald Trump.

"Who's going to watch a debate between the two Cuban guys?" Matthews said on his Hardball show Tuesday night.

He was referring to Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Neither is Gimenez's candidate -- he's backing Jeb Bush -- but the mayor nevertheless told Matthews he was "deeply offended."

"Your comments displayed bigotry and ignorance about nationality and what it means to be an American in the 21st century," Gimenez wrote. "Politics aside, Senators Cruz and Rubio are both highly qualified Presidential candidates. They are Americans. Period. And your questioning of their heritage (American, Hispanic or otherwise) is unbecoming and frankly unacceptable in this day and age -- especially of someone in your position."

Gimenez, who's running for reelection this fall, didn't ask Matthews to respond. Matthews apologized on air Thursday. ("I'm sorry I said it. I mean it," he said.)

"I don't expect you to retract your commentary or apologize," Gimenez concluded, "but I hope that my words have at least made you reconsider your antiquated and appalling remarks."

This post has been updated to note Matthews' apology.

Miami congressman returns from Afghanistan trip

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@PatriciaMazzei

In his first overseas trip as part of a congressional delegation, Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo traveled to Afghanistan for four days last week, visiting U.S. service members stationed at military bases.

The trip was kept hush-hush due to security reasons, as most "codels" to dangerous places are, until after Curbelo and the three other members of Congress who took part returned safely home.

Curbelo and Democratic Reps. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut and Julia Brownley of California traveled at the invitation of U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Minnesota Republican who sits on the House Armed Services Committee. They visited the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the Afghan capital, and three military bases in Bagram, Kandahar and Nangarhar. 

"I wanted to hear directly from the generals in the field," said Curbelo, a freshman. "When generals go and speak on the Hill and testify, they tend to feel scripted. When you go out to the field and meet with them in their offices, on their bases, you really get a better feeling of what the the challenges are, where we're failing, where we're succeeding."

Continue reading "Miami congressman returns from Afghanistan trip" »

Set to run for Congress in Miami, son of Hillary Clinton donor now also considering state Senate seat

@PatriciaMazzei

Andrew Korge let it be known two weeks ago that he intended to run for Congress as a Democrat in the Florida district now represented by Republican Carlos Curbelo.

But he has yet to file paperwork for his candidacy, and now he's taking a second look at running for Florida state Senate, his spokeswoman said Thursday.

"He has been approached by leaders in the community about running for District 39," Helena Poleo told the Miami Herald. "He hasn't made a decision yet."

Korge, a political novice and the son of Chris Korge, a prominent Hillary Clinton financial backer, had originally considered a Senate run. After new districts were redrawn and Miami Democratic Sen. Gwen Margolis said she'd seek reelection, however, Andrew Korge set his sights on Congress instead.

What's changed in the past two weeks? Two things: Former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia sounded more serious about campaigning for his old seat again, taking on Democrat Annette Taddeo.

And word leaked from Tallahassee that a deal might be in the works between Sens. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, and Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, to avoid running against each other. Such an agreement could tacitly signal to other Democrats not to run against Flores.

Korge and other Democrats privately panned the notion of a deal, saying it wouldn't make sense for the party not to compete in new District 39, which leans Democratic. So does District 40, where Bullard and Flores live now. Both are heavily Hispanic. Neither Bullard nor Korge are.

January 27, 2016

Former Hialeah mayor Raul Martinez backs Annette Taddeo for Congress

@PatriciaMazzei

Here's a notable endorsement for Annette Taddeo, the Democrat running for Congress in Miami: She received the backing Wednesday of former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez.

Martinez, a fellow Democrat, has ties to former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia. Martinez's son, Raul Martinez Jr., worked for Garcia when he was in Congress.

The timing of the elder Martinez's endorsement seems squarely aimed at Garcia, who has said he's deciding in coming days whether he'll run again for the Westchester-to-Key West seat now held by Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

In a statement provided by Taddeo's campaign, Martinez called her a friend.

"Annette represents the American Dream that so many people come to this country to pursue," he said. "Annette is the best choice in this election and she could serve long enough to gain seniority and really do a lot for our region."

January 26, 2016

Marco Rubio invites donors to Miami ahead of debate, Florida primary

FullSizeRender (16)@PatriciaMazzei

Lest there be any doubt that Marco Rubio is expecting to compete for the Republican presidential nomination in his home state, the Florida senator has invited campaign donors to gather in Miami for two days in March.

Rubio's "Leadership Huddle" -- he likes to use football terms in politics -- is planned for March 10-11, according to an invitation obtained by the Miami Herald. A GOP debate is scheduled for March 10 at the University of Miami, and the Florida primary takes place March 15.

To attend, Rubio donors must have raised at least $27,000 for the campaign.

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo says he raised $450K and has $1.5M on hand

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo's campaign says it raked in nearly half a million dollars in the last three months of 2015 for his contested reelection campaign.

He raised $459,000 and has $1.51 cash on hand, campaign spokeswoman Nicole Rapanos told the Miami Herald. She said 45 percent of donations "came from South Floridians contributing $200 or less."

"We are confident that we will have ample resources to share Carlos' record of effective, bipartisan work in Congress on behalf of the people of South Dade and the Florida Keys," she said in a statement. Curbelo has been among the most prolific freshman Republican fundraisers.

Curbelo, who represents Westchester to Key West, is running in a redrawn swing district that now favors Democrats by a wider margin than when he ousted Democrat Joe Garcia in 2014. Garcia sounds like he wants to run again.

Democrat Annette Taddeo, who has lagged behind the incumbent's fundraising so far, has the party's backing in Washington D.C. She'll have to report her latest contributions by the end of the week; several House Democrats hosted fundraisers for her before the quarter ended Dec. 31. She has another one scheduled for Saturday -- in the new fundraising period -- with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján on Miami Beach.

 Andrew Korge, son of Hillary Clinton donor Chris Korge, has said he intends to seek the seat as well.