January 23, 2015

Zogby online GOP-voter poll: Bush and Rubio tied at 13%, trail Romney at 16%

@MarcACaputo

Zogby Analytics, which conducts online surveys (note: they're controversial/experimental), is out with a new poll. From its website: 

A new Zogby Analytics of likely Republican primary voters shows that the 2012 nominee is in the lead for 2016, but only three points ahead of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and current Florida Senator Marco Rubio.The poll of 223 likely primary voters was conducted online January 16-18 and has a margin of sampling error of +/-6.6 percentage points.

Romney is on top with support from 16% of the voters, followed by Bush and Rubio with 13% each. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is next with 11%, followed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee with 9%, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at 6%, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindahl with 4%, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz all at 3%. Other names included South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez, and former Pennsylvania Rick Santorum --- all receiving less than 1%.

January 22, 2015

Headlined by Donna Shalala, Ready For Hillary PAC to raise Miami $ in Bush/Rubio country

@MarcACaputo

Ready4HillIs Miami ready for Hillary Clinton?

The Ready for Hillary PAC is about to find out Feb. 12, when the political committee holds its first major South Florida fundraiser.

It’s headlined by the former Secretary of State’s close friend, outgoing University of Miami President Donna Shalala, the former health secretary under President Clinton.

This is only the beginning of the 2016 fundraising season, so expect more because Miami-Dade has some of the deepest pockets for Florida fundraisers, making it a regular stop on the political money-grubbing circuit.

This fundraiser is set to be held at the home of philanthropist Adrienne Arsht (after whom the county’s performing arts center is named). The host committee includes Hispanic-outreach wiz Freddy Balsera, fundraiser-lawyer Mitchell Berger, former DNC treasurer Bob Farmer, former U.S. Rep. Hon. Joe Garcia, lobbyist Alex Heckler, and former Clinton White House aide and current Arsht Foundation executive Suzanna Valdez.

The Miami fundraiser has an added dose of political interest because it’s being held in the home county of potential Hillary Clinton rivals, former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

As the state’s most-populous and most-Hispanic county, Miami-Dade is also one of the most hotly contested, although it has trended more and more Democrat in recent years. Bush is the only Republican in at least 15 years who has one a majority of the vote in Miami-Dade County (53 percent in 2002). Rubio in his 2010 bid for Senate won the county with 43 percent of the vote, but that’s partly because then-U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and then-independent Gov. Charlie Crist.

Last year as a Democrat, Crist won a greater share of the Miami-Dade vote in his failed bid for governor, 58 percent. But in raw votes (541,000) and in percentage terms (62 percent), President Obama in 2012 firmly established Miami-Dade as a Democratic bulwark.

With margins like that, it’s not easy to see how Bush or Rubio could beat Clinton in their home county. But both speak Spanish, unlike Clinton and unlike 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

Romney lost the county by more votes (208,459) than any other recent Republican candidate. That margin helped cost Romney must-win Florida and, therefore, the White House. Romney's hardline positions on immigration likely helped cost him a significant portion of the Hispanic vote, the state and nation's fastest growing major demographic that promises to be even more influential in 2016.

So it's a good bet that Miami, and perhaps Florida, is far less likely ready for Mitt than Hillary

Awkward: Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney to meet privately in Utah

From The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are scheduled to meet privately this week in Utah, raising the possibility that the two former governors will find a way to avoid competing presidential campaigns that would split the Republican establishment next year, two prominent party members said Wednesday night.

The meeting was planned before Mr. Romney’s surprise announcement two weeks ago to donors in New York that he was considering a third run for the White House.

Mr. Bush proposed the meeting, according to one of the party members familiar with the planning, who did not want to be quoted by name in discussing a secret meeting.

The original idea was for Mr. Bush, who announced his presidential ambitions in December, to show his respect for Mr. Romney, the Republican Party’s 2012 nominee. The meeting stayed on both men’s calendars even as Mr. Romney took steps to test the presidential waters, moves that could make the meeting awkward.

January 16, 2015

Like others in FL, million-dollar Romney donor Mike Fernandez leans Jeb-ward

@MarcACaputo

Billionaire healthcare executive Miguel “Mike” Fernandez was an early support of Mitt Romney’s in 2011– and he was a generous giver, contributing at least $1 million to elect the Republican, hosting a big fundraiser and, he estimates, getting others to contribute as much as $7 million more.

But Fernandez is from Coral Gables. That makes him a neighbor of former Gov. Jeb Bush. So he likely would choose Jeb over Mitt (like, say, former ambassador Mel Sembler or Romney’s former Florida campaign manager Brett Doster).

Asked if he plans to contribute to Bush, Fernandez was quick to reply by text message: “When asked, I would be happy to do so. Mi Casa is Jeb's Casa!!”

Fernandez wouldn’t say if he has definitely committed to Bush, though he’s ready to give.

“I have known Jeb for over 20 years and friends support friends,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez did discount a rumor that he personally rebuffed Romney go-betweens who had reached out to him recently.

Continue reading "Like others in FL, million-dollar Romney donor Mike Fernandez leans Jeb-ward" »

January 10, 2015

The 'Bush clan' and 'Romney clan' could be on a collision course

Must-read from the Washington Post

Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney have much in common. Both were pragmatic as governors, mild-mannered as candidates and more comfortable balancing budgets at their desks than clinking glasses at a political dinner.

The two Republican leaders’ personal rapport is cordial. But they are hardly chummy — and at moments their relationship has been strained, with each man’s intertwined political network carrying some grievances with the other’s.....

“We’re seeing the first shots of the war between clan Romney and clan Bush,” said Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist who has worked for both men. “Both bring to the battle incredibly powerful fan clubs as well as wounds they have to heal. How ugly could it get? You’re only competing to lead the free world.”

All in for Jeb Bush: The SuperPAC man who kept Mitt Romney from being ‘toast’

@MarcACaputo

Mitt Romney rocked the political establishment and Jeb Bush’s quasi-campaign for president when the former Massachusetts governor announced he might run for the White House a third time.

But this time, Romney would have to do it without the guy who kept him from being “toast” in 2012: Charlie Spies, the Republican election-law lawyer who advised Romney’s 2008 campaign and ran the 2012 political action committee that spent $156 million on the 2012 GOP nominee.

Also, this time, Spies is all in for….. Jeb Bush.

Spies is the lawyer behind both of Bush’s leadership PAC and the pro-Bush SuperPAC called “Right to Rise.” Spies signed on with Bush long before Romney’s surprise Friday announcement, but he makes clear that he’s comfortable with his support for Bush while he also views Romney with affection.

“Obama’s bumbling presidency has made it clear we need a president with executive leadership experience. The world would be much different and safer if Gov. Romney won and was president today,” Spies said. “But politics is about timing. And Gov. Bush is now rising to the moment and I hope he decides to run.”

Romney certainly heard the ticking of the clock now that Bush on Wednesday began raising hedge-fund money in Greenwich, Conn. So Romney dropped his bomb Friday at a previously scheduled meeting with former donors in New York.

“Everybody in here can go tell your friends that I’m considering a run,” Romney told the donors, according to Politico. The Wall Street Journal first reported the story. Time, however, casts some doubts on Romney's level of interest.

Continue reading "All in for Jeb Bush: The SuperPAC man who kept Mitt Romney from being ‘toast’" »

June 10, 2013

Movers & Shakers

Former Romney spokesman new press secretary for the Republican Party of Florida

 Susan Hepworth, who served as director of the national traveling press for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign, is the new press secretary and deputy communications director for the Republican Party of Florida.

The Kansas City native traveled full time with former Gov. Romney and the press corp during his race for president.

During the 2010 election cycle, she directed the day-to-day political operations at the RNC. Prior to that she was at Majority Strategies, a mail firm in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Hepworth began her political career in 2007 in Iowa on Romney’s first presidential bid right after graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism.

“I graduated on a Sunday, drove to Des Moines on Monday and I started working on the campaign on Tuesday,” said Hepworth, who started her new job June 7. “And that’s been my life.”

Winsor new state solicitor general

Allen Winsor succeeds Timothy Osterhaus as Florida’s solicitor general,  the state government’s top appellate lawyer. Osterhaus was appointed to the 1st District Court of Appeal May 20th.

Winsor, 36,  has been the principal deputy solicitor general since January. Prior to that, he was a member of the Tallahassee office of GrayRobinson, most recently as a shareholder. He’s a 2002 graduate of the University Of Florida College Of Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the Florida Law Review.

The Florida solicitor general represents the state throughout Florida's appellate courts and in the U.S. Supreme Court. The solicitor general also serves as the Richard W. Ervin Eminent Scholar Chair and a visiting professor of law at Florida State University College of Law.

Continue reading "Movers & Shakers" »

March 04, 2013

Jeb Bush immigration reversal? No citizenship-pathway for the undocumented. Pulling a Romney?

@MarcACaputo

The Huffington Post obtained a copy of Gov. Jeb Bush's new book on immigration -- and it indicates the former Florida governor has reversed himself when it comes to granting a pathway to citizenship for those illegally in the country.

The revelations angered top advisors to Mitt Romney, who felt that Bush went out of his way to make statements during the campaign that undermined the former Republican presidential candidate's campaign by seeming to urge a softer approach to immigration.

"Where the hell was this Jeb Bush during the campaign?" said one advisor."He spent all this time criticizing Romney and it turns out he has basically the same position. So he wants people to go back to their country and apply for citizenship? Well, that's self deportation. We got creamed for talking about that. And now Jeb is saying the same thing."

Asked to respond, Bush said by email: "i am not advocating self  deportation. read the book."

The book isn't out yet. So it's unclear what specifically Bush was advocating for and against.

From a marketing perspective, it's a good move for Bush. It gets people talking about his book. It also gets people wondering if he's covering his right flank and is therefore more-serious about running for president in four years.

Excerpts from HuffPo:

WASHINGTON -- In a new book, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) makes a notable reversal on immigration reform, arguing that creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would only encourage future unauthorized immigration.

"It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences -- in this case, that those who violated the law can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship," Bush and lawyer Clint Bolick argue in a new book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution. "To do otherwise would signal once again that people who circumvent the system can still obtain the full benefits of American citizenship."....

They don't fully rule out citizenship, however, despite what that sentence implies. Although Bush and Bolick state there should be no special pathway, they say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to go through normal channels to naturalize by going to their native country to apply. That process currently requires three- or 10-year bars and no guarantee of return, making it untenable to many undocumented immigrants.

November 11, 2012

Vote suppression. HB1355. And Florida's latest election debacle

Edgar Oliva waited to vote at Shenandoah Elementary School and fretted.

The line was too long. The clock was ticking. He had to get to work across town.

Twice before, during in-person early voting, he tried to vote but he had to leave because lines were even longer. Tuesday was his third try at voting in between one of his two jobs, cleaning carpets in Doral and working at an airport hotel.

About 4 p.m. on Election Day, he gave up.

“I had the intention of voting but there were always a lot of people,” Oliva, a native of Guatemala, told a Miami Herald reporter as he left the scene.

Oliva had so much company on Tuesday.

Voter after voter who spoke to Herald reporters on Election Day said the longer early voting lines dissuaded them from casting early ballots in person. And then the unexpected long lines on Election Day just compounded the sense of frustration in some places. Many dropped out of line.

The experience played out across the state. Data show the 71.13 percent turnout percentage in 2012 fell well short of the rates in 2008 (75 percent) and 2004 (74 percent).

Continue reading "Vote suppression. HB1355. And Florida's latest election debacle" »

November 10, 2012

With all 67 counties in, Obama still the Florida winner, now ahead by more: 73k votes

Palm Beach County, which lagged behind the 66 others, has finally finished counting its absentee ballots and it only helped President Obama.

Obama picked up a net 6,910 more votes over Republican Mitt Romney. That helped increase Obama's overall lead in Florida to 73,694. That's an increase of mroe than 15,600 since Thursday, when The Herald first reported Obama had little chance of losing and that a Romney adviser acknowledged the Republican loss.

Obama's lead now stands at 50.01 percent (4,234,522 votes) to Romney's 49.13 (4,160,828 votes). The results are due now at the Secretary of State's office.

Counties are still counting provisional ballots, which are cast when a voter's status is in doubt. And overseas ballots are still not in. The former often favor Democrats. The latter have favored Republicans. But Obama has pulled relatively strong military support, so the chances that Romney can make up for the loss with overseas ballots looks less and less likely as Obama's lead has grown.

The race won't officially be called until Nov. 20, when the state canvassing board meets to certify the results.