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September 23, 2016

Kaine will campaign in Miami on Sunday

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Tim Kaine will make a Miami stop Sunday evening, ahead of Hillary Clinton's appearance Monday night at the first presidential debate.

The Democratic VP nominee plans to drop by Miami Dade College Kendall Campus to discuss Clinton's economic plans, according to the campaign. The Clinton team has spent the week trying to reach young voters, an elusive demographic for both big-party candidates this year.

Kaine last visited South Florida in late August, as part of a small-business tour. He's been a consistent presence since Clinton named him her running mate at Florida International University in July.

Clinton is expected to prep this weekend for the debate against Donald Trump, which will take place at 9 p.m. Monday at Hofstra University in New York. She planned to campaign Sunday in Charlotte, North Carolina, where a police shooting has prompted major street protests, but she cancelled the trip after the city's mayor urged presidential candidates to hold off so as not to drain local resources.

Tickets to Kaine's event can be requested here.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, Miami Herald

Ted Cruz endorses Donald Trump


Remember the Ted Cruz who stole the show during July's Republican National Convention, failing to endorse nominee Donald Trump?

He's gone now.

The Texas senator posted a robust Trump endorsement on his Facebook page Friday.

Trump issued a brief statement on Cruz's about-face.

"I am greatly honored by the endorsement of Senator Cruz," he said. "We have fought the battle and he was a tough and brilliant opponent. I look forward to working with him for many years to come in order to make America great again."

Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

Anti-pot group spends $1.3M as medical marijuana boosters keep fundraising


Supporters of a ballot question expanding medical marijuana in Florida continued fundraising the week of Sept. 10-16 while opponents started spending big money on advertising.

State campaign finance records released Friday show that United for Care, the group behind the constitutional amendment, called Amendment 2, raised $20,000 last week, most of it from donations $1,000 or less.

No on 2, the campaign opposing the measure, raised just $1, but they've started using major donations to produce and buy ads. Records show that Drug Free Florida, the political committee opposing medical marijuana, spent more than $1.3 million that same week, most of it going to Jamestown Associates, an ad buying firm.

Here's the dollars in and dollars out for the campaigns thus far:

United for Care: Raised $4.01 million ($32,162 since Sept. 1); spent $3.89 million ($40,474 since Sept. 1)

Drug Free Florida: Raised $2.86 million ($1.03 since Sept. 1); spent $1.79 million ($1.39 million since Sept. 1)

Supporters and opponents of the medical marijuana initiative have both relied heavily on big-money donors to fund their causes.

John Morgan, the Orlando trial lawyer, has funded $2.7 million of the money United for Care has spent getting Amendment 2 on the ballot, though he hasn't donated to the committee since Jan. 5.

Conservative Tampa Bay developer Mel Sembler has this year spent $1 million and promised to donate or raise up to $10 million to fund Drug Free Florida. In early September, Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, dropped $1 million in campaign against Amendment 2.

Can Zika aid bill overcome its DC partisan past?



WASHINGTON Senate Republican leaders revealed what they called a breakthrough in Zika funding Thursday under renewed pressure from Florida lawmakers and mayors to break a seven-month political impasse.

Read more here:

Democrats, however, said disputes over funding other urgent needs could still block any final deal, with the Zika money now part of a larger appropriations measure meant to fund the federal government through Dec. 9.

Just a few hours after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine met with South Florida members of Congress and visited the White House to push for the stalled Zika money, the Senate Republicans disclosed the new Zika effort.

For more, read here:

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


Read more here:


Marco Rubio, Republicans use Iran to attack Patrick Murphy on foreign policy

Murphy _ ap


For months, Republicans have hammered Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy for his support of the Obama administration when it comes to Iran policy, and those attacks escalated overnight after Murphy voted with House Democrats to oppose a ban on future cash payments to the Middle East nation.

GOP groups, including Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio, are using Thursday night's vote to characterize the Jupiter congressman as "weak" on national security, but Murphy, like other Democrats, argue Republicans are merely playing politics.

The debate stems from revelations this summer that the U.S. paid $400 million to Iran as part of a decades-old settlement on the same day four American prisoners were released from the country. Republicans have described the transaction as a "ransom" payment, a characterization the Obama administration disputes.

In response to that controversy, though, the Republican-led House on Thursday passed a bill -- mostly along partylines with Democrats, like Murphy, opposed -- that would prohibit cash payments to Iran and require congressional notification for any future settlement transactions.

MORE from McClatchy DC: "House approves legislation prohibiting cash payments to Iran"

When asked by the Herald/Times why Murphy opposed the bill, his congressional spokeswoman Erin Moffet initially did not specify the reason for Murphy's vote, but then later explained his position in a follow-up statement.

"It is not in our nation's best interest to tie this and the next president's hands from being able to settle claims, which this politically motivated bill would do by preventing the U.S. government from making future payments – even if required by law," Moffet said.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio, Republicans use Iran to attack Patrick Murphy on foreign policy" »

Florida Board of Education wants end to Best & Brightest teacher bonuses

via @JeffSolochek

The Florida Board of Education on Friday backed a budget plan that would eliminate funding for the state's controversial two-year-old Best and Brightest bonus, which rewards teachers based on their job evaluations and their SAT or ACT scores.

The board's legislative budget proposal would take the bulk of the $49 million expenditure and place it into "teacher recruitment and retention." The recommended $43 million fund would provide bonuses for "new teachers who show great potential for and veteran teachers who have demonstrated the highest student academic growth among their peers."

It would use Florida's top teacher preparation programs and also aim to address shortages in STEM fields, as well as supporting "top teacher candidates and public schools with the highest needs."

Board members asked commissioner Pam Stewart for more details on the use of the money, which represented the largest single change in its proposed budget. She said she was still collecting input from teachers and other stakeholders before writing a specific plan, and asked to discuss it more in depth in October.

The board, which approved the LBR 6-1 with Michael Olenick opposed, expressed satisfaction with the concept.

"I'd like to hear the details. I think it's in the right bucket, though," board member Gary Chartrand said.

Vice chairman John Padgetwho called for an end to the Best and Brightest in August, said he was "totally pleased" with the staff's direction.

"I'm happy to hear it," he said. "I've heard some ideas, and I like many of them."

Teachers continue to apply for the bonuses, which averaged about $8,500 in their first year, with a Nov. 1 deadline. The state has made clear that district decisions on the awards are final.

Mothers of slain children to campaign for Clinton in Florida

DEM 2016 Convention (3)


Mothers of children killed to gun violence or in incidents involving police -- including the mother of Trayvon Martin -- will go on the road in Florida beginning this weekend to campaign for Hillary Clinton.

The women, who call themselves the "Mothers of the Movement," will take part in a four-day tour of North and South Florida to try to rally black voters to Clinton, especially around issues of jobs, education and criminal justice. They will kick off their travels Saturday in Jacksonville and plan to be in South Florida on Monday.

The last time the mothers came together for Clinton was during the Democratic National Convention in July. This will be their first campaign trip since, coming days after deadly police shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte. Clinton made note of incidents in Orlando this week.

In Jacksonville, three mothers -- Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis; Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, and Maria Hamilton, mother of Dontre Hamilton -- will visit historically black Edward Waters College for a panel discussion Saturday titled "Fish, Grits, and Politics." They plan church visits Sunday, along with a voter-registration event.

In South Florida, four mothers -- Carr; Hamilton; Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland, and Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon -- will stop in Riviera Beach and Broward County, where they'll attend a watch party for Monday night's presidential debate. They will drop in on historically black Florida Memorial University for a panel discussion Monday, and then attend a forum in Miami Gardens.

More here.


Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

Clinton's latest Florida TV ad features Trump talking about women: 'I'd look her right in that fat, ugly face'


Donald Trump's past insulting comments about women are featured in a new TV ad Hillary Clinton is airing in Florida and other battleground states.

In one clip, Trump says, "I'd look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers." In another, he says, "She's a slob."

"Is this the president we want for our daughters?" the spot concludes.

The ad is also airing in Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, per the Clinton camp.


PolitiFact: A look at Marco Rubio's record on abortion


U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy said Sen. Marco Rubio has a zero-compromise position on abortion.

In a new campaign ad that started appearing Sept. 20, 2016, Murphy’s campaign said Rubio, the Republican incumbent, refuses to give ground on the issue, even in extenuating circumstances.

"Marco Rubio would take away a woman’s right to choose for victims of rape or incest," the ad said. It included video of Rubio saying, "I don’t require there to be an exception for rape or incest."

Murphy has faced criticism that he’s a conservative in Democrat’s clothing, so his ad touted his own support for abortion.

The ad goes on to say Rubio wouldn’t allow the procedure for pregnant women with Zika.

Rubio has previously confirmed he would oppose allowing a woman who has contracted the virus to abort a fetus that potentially had severe microcephaly. He said he preferred "to err on the side of life" rather than allow the procedure.

But what has Rubio said about allowing exceptions for rape and incest victims? We checked his record and found that even though Rubio strongly opposes abortion, his stance on granting exceptions is a bit more nuanced than Murphy described.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Trump's expanded list of Supreme Court contenders includes 2 Florida judges


Donald Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees expanded Friday to 20 contenders -- including two more Florida judges.

The list, obtained by NBC News' Chuck Todd, names Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady and U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno of Miami.

Trump had initially put forth 11 possible candidates, in a move to ensure Republicans that he'd make conservative picks to the top court.