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October 15, 2016

Rubio super PAC reports $342K haul

via @learyreports

The super PAC supporting Marco Rubio on Saturday reported raising a modest $342,000 for the third quarter.

Florida First Project has not been that active as outside groups have poured millions into the race to help Rubio, who is also getting help from the state GOP. And Rubio has been raising huge sums himself, including $9.6 million in the third quarter.

Major contributors:

Warren Stephens, $100,000.

John W. Childs, $50,000.

Robert Arnott, $40,000.

Sen. John Cornyn's Alamo PAC, $25,000.

Edward Conard, $25,000.

Dosal Tobacco Corp., $25,000.

Landscapes USA, $10,000.

Tony Pritzker, $10,000.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Federal judge suggests Detzner trying to disenfranchise voters


In a scathing ruling calling out the Secretary of State's office for its legal arguments, a federal judge on Saturday cancelled the oral arguments for a case on voting rights. 


U.S. District Judge Mark Walker declared he would use written arguments to rule on a lawsuit filed by Democrats contesting a state law that prohibits mail voters from correcting their signatures if they don't match signature on file. 


"But this isn’t a game; this Court will not allow the Florida Secre- tary of State—a high-level officer of the State of Florida—to take a knee and deprive Florida citizens of their most precious right," Walker wrote. 


He canceled a Monday hearing in the case. 


Under state law, mail voters who do not sign their ballots are allowed to fix them and have their votes counted. Those whose signatures are deemed a mismatch by the county canvassing board are not allowed to. 


"The Department responded by the court’s deadline. Secretary Detzner is not a proper party to the lawsuit. According to Florida law, the Secretary of State does not canvass vote-by-mail ballots. That is the duty of county canvassing boards," DOS spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice said in a statement. 


Walker has not ruled in the case, which is on a time crunch as the Nov. 8 election grows nearer. He did say he was not convinced by Secretary of State Ken Detzner's assertion that he should not be a defendant in the lawsuit because canvassing boards deal with mail ballots, not his office. 


He also suggested that Detzner was trying to stall and in effect disenfranchise voters. 


"The mischief associated with the Florida Secretary of State’s shenanigans is that, assuming he is right, it doesn’t enable the proper party to be joined, thus disenfranchising thousands," he wrote. 


Murphy hopes fallout from Trump tape will help him overtake Rubio

Murphy primary nite 3 - richard graulich pbp


Ten days ago, Democrat Patrick Murphy’s chances to unseat Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate looked less and less likely.

Florida’s Senate race was — and still is — competitive, but after weeks of going head-to-head against the Republican incumbent, Murphy had failed to take the lead or even gain a measurable advantage on Rubio.

Then came the leaked footage of Donald Trump.

The 2005 “Access Hollywood” video showing the Republican presidential nominee boasting of kissing and groping women without their consent has thrust Rubio into defensive mode, causing him to minimize his public profile even as he reaffirms his endorsement of Trump.

READ MORE: Rubio stands by Trump after tape

This was the golden opportunity Murphy’s campaign has wanted to try to knock Rubio down a few pegs.

“We feel really confident that these comments from Trump and these accusations against him this week are going to be a lead weight on Rubio’s chances,” Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said Friday.

But political observers say it’s too soon to tell whether the Trump controversy will give Murphy enough to overtake Rubio in the final stretch of the campaign.

Several don’t expect it to.

More here.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / Palm Beach Post/AP

Pence gets VIP treatment from Miami-Dade GOP. But don't mention Trump.

113MPence15 NEW PPP

For Mike Pence, the VIP treatment he got Friday night from Miami-Dade County Republicans might not have been immediately evident. Donald Trump’s running mate, after all, is the governor of Indiana, where punctuality is not known to be a problem.

But to come to Miami, where life moves on Miami Time, and run on schedule? This was a Big Deal.

“We’re going to do something a little different this year,” local GOP Chairman Nelson Diaz said when the clock ticked 6:59 p.m. “We’re going to start exactly on time.”

And so, spiffy-looking Republican donors — including several men sporting suit jackets and red “Make America Great Again” hats — peeled themselves away from the bar and strolled into the ballroom of the DoubleTree by Hilton Miami Airport and Convention Center to give Pence their attention.

Pence knew to play to the crowd. In his first South Florida appearance of the campaign, he veered from his regular stump speech to offer a few words about Miami-Dade Republicans’ dearest foreign-policy issue.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would lift the embargo completely and normalize relations with Cuba for nothing in return,” he said. “Let me make a promise to you Donald Trump and I will take to the White House: We will reverse Barack Obama’s executive order on Cuba. We will support a continuation of the embargo until we see real political and religious freedoms take hold in that country.”

More here.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, Miami Herald staff

Bondi calls Trump remarks 'disgusting' but says she believes in 'forgiveness'

via @learyreports

Attorney General Pam Bondi broke her silence Friday over Donald Trump, calling his comments about women “disgusting” but that she remains a supporter.

"I believe the statements that Donald Trump says are disgusting. Disgusting, period," Bondi said a luncheon with the Florida Federation of Republican Women in Pasco County.

"I have spoken to him multiple times (and) he believes what he said was disgusting. He is horrified, apologetic and as Gov. Pence, as Mike Pence, a great man said, he's an evangelical Christian, I believe in forgiveness. I believe what Donald Trump said was disgusting. I also believe in the Constitution of the United States of America."

Bondi's comments were captured by ABC Action News, which has video. It was the first time she had commented since the 2005 video of Trump making sexually aggressive comments surfaced.

Since the video came out, a growing number of women have come forward to say Trump made unwanted advances.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

October 14, 2016

Poll: Marco Rubio 44%, Patrick Murphy 38% after Trump tape leak

Rubio murphy


A fresh poll from Public Policy Polling released Friday afternoon has Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio up 6 percentage points on Democrat Patrick Murphy, even after Rubio re-affirmed his support for Donald Trump after the controversial "Access Hollywood" tape was leaked last week.

The poll, done Oct. 12-13, found Rubio with 44 percent support, compared to 38 percent support for Murphy. Libertarian Paul Stanton had 6 percent support and 12 percent were undecided.

In a head-to-head match up, Rubio led Murphy, 48 percent to 43 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

The Democratic-leaning PPP surveyed 985 likely voters for results with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Respondents were also asked about Rubio's decision to stand by Trump, and the results were split.

About 39 percent said they were less likely to vote for Rubio, 32 percent said it made them more likely to support him, and 25 percent said it didn't make a difference. Four percent weren't sure.

PPP's previous poll of the Senate contest -- in late September -- had Rubio leading Murphy by 7 percentage points, 42 percent to 35 percent.

Photo credit: AP / The Palm Beach Post

GOP voter seeks to close major Broward road on election day


A Republican voter in Broward wants to shut down a stretch of a major roadway on election day for an amateur road race because he is discouraged about his choices for president.

Aaron Nevins, a former aide to State Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff and son of political blogger Buddy Nevins, sent a letter to the Broward Sheriff’s Office Thursday seek to close part of U.S. 441 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 8 (hat tip Sun Sentinel).

“The major candidates aren’t very compelling -- I’d like to do something else that day,” said Nevins who said he won’t vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. “I’m the type of person who normally would be at the polls, go in and advocate usually for a Republican candidate. Right now I don’t think that’s exciting so I’d rather spend the day racing.”

While BSO didn't deny Nevins' request, the agency has sought so much additional information from Nevins that it appears it would be tough for him to pull it off.

Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes denounced the proposal to close part of the busy thoroughfare on election day.

“I will do everything I can to stop it,” she said.

Nevins wants to close a 1.5-mile portion of 441 north of State Road 84. The stretch is in unincorporated Broward and goes through part of Broward’s black community -- a key voting bloc for Democrats.

From Nevins’ press release:

"Today we mailed by certified letter a notification to Sheriff Israel of our intent to host this race, which is the right of any Floridian under the law,” said Aaron Nevins, president of Painted Dog Productions.  “I look forward to working with Sheriff Israel pursuant to his duties under Florida Statute 549.02 to ensure the safety of our community as we shut down 441 and Davie Blvd. Extension for this race."

Florida Statute 549.01, enacted in 1905, gives all Floridians the right to notify the sheriff of their intent to host a race. sheriff allowed to charge $2 per deputy, per day to have deputies to assist us.

“Florida Law says it is our duty to notify the sheriff and we have fulfilled our requirements under the law to host this race.” said Nevins. "I look forward to working with the sheriff to take reasonable steps necessary to protect the public during this race."

The race will last from 7:00am to 7:00 PM on Election Day, November 8, 2016 and will likely result in the closure of Davie Blvd Extension, as well as 441 in both directions.

A BSO lawyer sent back a response to Nevins Friday afternoon seeking more than one dozen pieces of additional information including a diagram of the course, a list of participants, a crowd control plan and a copy of permits.

Nevins said that he chose 441 because it is in unincorporated Broward. A separate statute allows cities to regulate such races within their jurisdictions and it has more stringent criteria that Nevins said he couldn’t meet.

He denied that the road closure will block voters’ access.

“There is plenty of opportunities for people to vote,” said Nevins, who plans to vote by mail or at an early site. “My goal is to go out on election day and have a fun time. I don’t think this is going really block people.”

Painted Dog Productions is a company Nevins formed that hasn’t previously done anything. Nevins works as a political consultant for local races in the state.

For the record, he drives a black Honda CRV.

Clinton camp says it's opening 7 new Florida offices

via @learyreports

The Clinton campaign is opening seven more offices in Florida in coordination with the state Democratic Party.

The offices are in South Tampa, West Tampa, South St. Petersburg, East Orlando, Brandon, Daytona Beach, and Liberty City.

“The offices, now among 72 across the Sunshine State, will serve as hubs for organizing activity - allowing supporters to mobilize and help elect Hillary Clinton and Democrats up and down the ballot on Election Day,” according to a release.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Morgan Freeman's voice stars in new Clinton ad geared at black voters

via @learyreports

Actor Morgan Freeman’s distinctive voice is used in a new Hillary Clinton TV ad aimed at African-American voters in Florida and other key states, part of an effort to motivate an essential voting bloc for Democrats.

“What does showing up when it’s time to vote actually mean? You care about protecting his legacy and our progress,” Freeman says as an image of Barack Obama and his family is shown as well as the Obamas helping lead a civil rights march.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Advocates, officials react to Supreme Court's death penalty ruling

@MichaelAuslen and @MaryEllenKlas

Friday morning, the Florida Supreme Court struck down the state's death penalty sentencing law, declaring that all death sentences should be decided by a unanimous jury.

"I am profoundly disappointed by today’s Florida Supreme Court opinion that found a component of our death penalty law unconstitutional. ... Make no mistake, those impacted most by this miscarriage of justice are the families as they watch the perpetrators of some of the most heinous and vicious murders and tortures continue to live the days their loved one were denied," said Florida House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran in a statement. "This decision is indicative of a Court that comes to a conclusion, then seeks a judicial pathway, however tortured, to achieve its desired result.  That is antithetical to the rule of law and dangerous for our state."

Spokespeople for Gov. Rick Scott Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner and President-designate Joe Negron said they were reviewing the court's ruling.

So did Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. "We are reviewing the Florida Supreme Court ruling, but in the meantime Florida juries must make unanimous decisions in capital cases as to the appropriateness of the death penalty," said spokesman Whitney Ray in a statement.

Here's how advocates and elected officials responded in the hours following the court's ruling:

"It was a pretty simple question. We either found a compromise or nothing happened and doing nothing was not a reasonable outcome," said Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, who also said he was not surprised by the court's ruling. “If we had done nothing then there would not have been a law that the Supreme Court of Florida could pass judgment on. Now we have direction and so we needed to act at the past session in order to end the delays in the death penalty system.”

"I supported unanimous juries in the past and I think it’s probably the right decision," said Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. "This is just really a trend of what supreme courts have been doing around the country on this issue."

"We enforce the laws, the Legislature writes the laws and the Supreme Court interprets the laws," said Buddy Jacobs, general counsel of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, which opposed unanimous juries. "So we will be talking and meeting on Monday to try to come up with some sort of road map of where we go from here based on this opinion."

"For years, we have warned the Florida legislature that unless they rewrote our state’s broken death penalty, the courts would take the issue out of their hands," saidHoward Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, in a statement. "Just as we warned the Florida Legislature that they would, the Florida Supreme Court has inserted some much-needed fairness in our death penalty process by declaring that anything short of a fully unanimous jury is unconstitutional."

“Today’s opinions released by the Florida Supreme Court continue to reveal a broken, mistake-prone death penalty system that fails victims’ families, the innocent, and taxpayers. It is time to end the use of Florida’s failed death penalty government program," said Mark Elliott, executive director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, in a statement. "For more than a decade, prosecutors have known full well that Florida’s death sentencing scheme was seriously flawed and could be unconstitutional, yet they downplayed concerns and advised against reforms. Victims’ families were dragged through long, repetitive, and painful procedures, record numbers of innocent people were sentenced to death, and Florida taxpayers paid the enormous costs."

"Florida finally joins the rest of the states in requiring what everyone has known for a long time -- that at least, the imposition of the death penalty requires a unanimous verdict," said Miami defense lawyer Philip Reizenstein, who handles death cases. "What remains is for Florida to join the rest of the civilized world and end the death penalty."

“The Florida Supreme Court’s ruling that jury recommendations for the death penalty must be unanimous is a long overdue recognition of the state’s fatally flawed capital punishment regime," said Professor Mary Anne Franks of the University of Miami School of Law in a statement circulated by the Fair Punishment Project. "The prosecutors who relentlessly pursued death sentences despite being repeatedly placed on notice that the state’s death penalty regime was constitutionally defective should be held accountable for the emotional and financial costs they have imposed on victims’ families and on taxpayers.”

We'll keep updating as reactions come in.

With reporting by Tampa Bay Times staff writer Laura Morel and Miami Herald staff writer David Ovalle.