October 31, 2016

Annette Taddeo records radio ad to support Dwight Bullard


A Florida labor union is spending $45,000 on a new Spanish-language radio ad in Miami so that Florida Democratic Party vice chairwoman and former gubernatorial and congressional candidate Annette Taddeo can promote incumbent state Sen. Dwight Bullard in the final days before Election Day.

Bullard, D-Miami, is in a competitive race for re-election against Miami Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles, who has vastly outspent Bullard in the bitter District 40 contest in central Miami-Dade County.

1199SEIU Florida, which represents 25,000 health care workers, is paying for the ad. The group said in a press release that Taddeo felt compelled to record the ad for Bullard "because of what she described as lies being spread against Bullard’s character in a deceitful Spanish-language ad."

Artiles recently aired a misleading ad on Miami TV, in which Artiles falsely said Bullard "voted to release violent criminals and sexual delinquents in our community." More here on why Artiles' claim isn't accurate.

"Artiles is trying smear him with a campaign of lies in an attempt to deceive voters. But it’s not going to to work," Roxey Nelson, political director for 1199SEIU Florida, said in a statement. "Dwight shows up. He is fighting for us, and hundreds of volunteers have been out in force knocking on doors and fighting for him."

In the 60-second radio ad, Taddeo touts Bullard's work as "an educator for twenty years, fighting to raise the minimum wage, to expand Medicaid and enable immigrants to go to college."

Taddeo describes Artiles as "an extremist who voted to take away $1.3 billion from our schools while trying to put guns in our classrooms." She also mentions Artiles' support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"Artiles and Trump — the same. That’s why I ask for your vote for Dwight Bullard. He deserves our support for State Senate," Taddeo says in the ad.

Artiles' campaign spokeswoman Sarah Bascom declined to comment on the ad but said Taddeo's "support will have no effect on the outcome of this race."


Photo credit: AP

The best political Halloween costume in West Miami?


When Halloween hits during early voting in a U.S. Senate race, the candidate's troops go to the polls in full force. Sometimes, they're even in costume.

Meet Brian Swensen, Marco Rubio's deputy campaign manager.

His costume Monday? Adult piggybacking on elephant.

Republicans. Elephants. Get it?

Swensen was hard at work ahead of Rubio's appearance to vote early at the West Miami Community Center. He rallied supporters, handed out campaign signs and sported a Rubio T-shirt himself.

The tiny legs over the GOP elephant, though, were appropriately spooky for All Hallows' Eve. No mask required.

Miami's Haitian Americans have mixed feelings about Clinton

via @Jacquiecharles

The Clintons have loomed large in Haiti for decades.

As Bill and Hillary Clinton ascended in the political world, their interest in Haiti — sparked by their 1975 honeymoon there — kept pace. They played key behind-the-scenes roles in Haiti presidential elections and publicly championed the Caribbean nation after the 2010 earthquake.

But that deep involvement in the politics of a foreign country wasn’t always welcomed by Haitians or the diaspora. And now some Haitian-American voters are threatening to turn their backs on Hillary Clinton’s Democratic presidential bid because they say the Clintons — and the Clinton Foundation — have not always done what’s best for Haiti.

In sought-after Florida, where the race between Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump has remained tight, Clinton is finding that the Haitian-American vote is far from locked up.

“They know that the Haitian community has a beef with them,” said Dr. Laurinus “Larry” Pierre, head of the Democratic Haitian American Caucus of Florida and a prominent Democratic party fundraiser. “Mistakes were clearly made in Haiti. But at least with Hillary, we have some access.”

Haitian voters point out that Clinton hasn’t visited Little Haiti, while Trump has. And though Clinton did meet with a handful of Haitian Americans before a Coral Springs rally Sept. 30 — five days before Hurricane Matthew hammered Haiti’s southwestern peninsula — Pierre, who attended the meeting, said that wasn’t enough: “I still asked Hillary if she could make a stop in the Haitian community.”

More here.

Photo credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald file

A rundown of Miami-Dade's judicial races

via @KyraGurney

Two circuit court judicial races are headed for a runoff on Nov. 8, with a former assistant state attorney and assistant public defender facing off in one race and a former U.S. Navy lawyer running against a Miami-Dade prosecutor in the other.

Mark Blumstein and Luis Perez-Medina beat two other contenders in a tight Aug. 30 primary race for the seat of Judge Gill Freeman, who retired this year. They are in Group 34.

Blumstein, 47, is a former Surfside commissioner who has also served as a U.S. Navy lawyer. He opened his own law firm, Blumstein & Associates, in 2008 and focuses on civil and commercial cases, including class-action lawsuits.

In the Navy, Blumstein served as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. He is a champion of the Veterans Court, a new initiative in Miami-Dade aimed at helping former soldiers navigate the court system.

“I’m probably the most unique candidate running for judge in that I have military experience, as well as private-sector litigation experience,” Blumstein said. “My motivation for running is obviously service-driven, specifically to assist veterans in our community.”

Perez-Medina, 56, has been an assistant state attorney since 2006. He has supervised felony attorneys and tried homicide cases, among other assignments, and worked his way up to the Public Corruption Unit, where he oversees investigations.

More here.

After election, whither Academica's Tallahassee political power?


via @KyraGurney

One of Florida’s largest for-profit charter school management companies, Academica, has long enjoyed considerable influence in the state Legislature. Until last year, two Academica employees served as state lawmakers — and the brother-in-law of the company’s founder also held the education purse strings in the House.

The November election puts the company’s clout at risk and, at least potentially, could have broader implications for a booming charter school industry that has claimed a significant share of state taxpayer dollars.

Academica runs more than 100 schools in Florida and makes $158 million a year in total revenue from its South Florida schools alone, including $9 million annually in management fees, according to 2011 estimates.

It’s a big industry, one that critics say has profited from well-placed political supporters in Tallahassee. For Academica, the biggest loss is Rep. Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican who is outgoing chair of the House education budget subcommittee — term-limited after eight years. He is the brother-in-law of Academica founder and executive Fernando Zulueta, and has worked as a consultant for Civica, an architecture firm that specializes in building charter schools.

Two other Miami lawmakers with close ties to the company are also facing challengers who could have a shot.

More here.

October 30, 2016

Hillary Clinton vows to fight for underdogs in South Florida



Hillary Clinton campaigned before African-American and LGBTQ voters in Broward County Sunday, two reliable Democratic voting blocs.

Her overall message to an African-American church in Fort Lauderdale and a gay club in Wilton Manors was the same: she will fight against discrimination while she accused Donald Trump of stoking it.

“Donald Trump has insulted more than half our population,” she said at the Manors Complex club, listing African Americans, Latinos, POWs and women. “I have been fighting for families and underdogs my entire life. I’m not stopping now.”

Clinton tweaked her messages for the two separate audiences. She talked about how the LGBT community continues to face discrimination at work and her desire to preserve the right of same-sex marriage while she praised the New Mount Olive Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale for working to improve neglected neighborhoods and spoke about her calls to reform the criminal justice system and invest in early childhood education.

Clinton, who is Methodist, quoted Scripture at the church.

“Scripture tells you when there is no vision the people perish,” Clinton said, and then said she would edit that message. “When there is negative, hateful, divisive vision the people also perish.”

Keep reading here.

Breakfast with Trump: Doral fundraiser planned for Wednesday

FullSizeRender (22)@PatriciaMazzei

Six days before the election, Donald Trump will be in his Miami-area golf resort, collecting checks from well-heeled political donors.

His campaign has scheduled a breakfast fundraiser at Trump National Doral.

Trump has yet to set any public events timed with the visit, he's expected to do so, given Florida's close poll numbers.

His running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will travel Monday to Cocoa, Maitland and Clearwater.

Bill Clinton to campaign in Miami-Dade Tuesday


Former President Bill Clinton will campaign for Hillary Clinton in Miami-Dade Tuesday.

The Clinton campaign has not released the time and location of the event. The former president campaigned for his wife at two churches and a temple in South Florida Oct. 23.

The Clintons have stepped up South Florida appearances in the homestretch as the race is in a dead heat with Donald Trump in Florida.

Photo of Bill Clinton speaking at the Fountain of New Life Church in Miami Gardens Oct. 23 by Johnny Louis jlnphotography.com


October 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton at J Lo concert in Miami: Let’s Get Loud at voting booth



As she faces a tough campaign in Florida, Hillary Clinton joined Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony on stage to urge the crowd to close the deal for her against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“We just heard Jennifer [Lopez] perform ‘Let’s Get Loud.’ Well, I say, ‘Let’s Get Loud’ at the voting booth. You can vote early. Don’t wait another day to vote, ” Clinton said.

The message at the J-Lo concert was the same as a typical Clinton rally, diversity and feminism (but this event had more butt shaking).

Keep reading here.

Miami Herald photo by Pedro Portal


Hillary Clinton has 13 times more poll watchers than Donald Trump in Miami-Dade



Donald Trump, the candidate who claims that there is "large scale voter fraud" in the United States, has only a small fraction of the poll watchers that will be dispatched by the Hillary Clinton campaign for early voting in Miami-Dade County.

A list of registered poll watchers from the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections shows that the county has 875 approved poll watchers for election day -- the vast majority, 685, for Hillary Clinton. Trump will have 53.

Poll watchers, who must be registered with the elections office, can stand within voting areas to monitor elections on behalf of campaigns.

Here are the numbers for poll watchers for additional campaigns in Miami-Dade:

Republican Party of Miami-Dade County: 82

Sen. Marco Rubio: 23

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo: 14

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez: 11

The remainder, which have between one and five poll watchers, are state house candidate John Couriel, the Libertarian Party and People for Stronger Neighborhoods.

Trump claimed that we have "large scale voter fraud" -- a claim that PolitiFact ruled Pants on Fire. Incidents of voter fraud are rare and often not large enough to influence a national election. Voter fraud of a much more localized scale -- such as in Miami-Dade -- does occasionally happen. 

On Friday, two women were arrested in Miami-Dade for voter fraud. Law enforcement officials said that one woman marked ballots for mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado while another woman unlawfully filled out voter registration forms for United for Care, a political committee backing the medical marijuana amendment.

(This post has been updated to reflect that the numbers are for early voting sites.)