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November 18, 2016

John Morgan's potential rivals for governor weigh in on his possible candidacy

via @adamsmithtimes

Trial lawyer John Morgan's flirtation with running for the 2018 Democratic nomination for governor could upend what already looked like a potentially strong field of Democratic contenders. The Tampa Bay Times asked their thoughts about Morgan, who is not only a potential rival but also a Democratic top money raiser with a short fuse - not someone an ambitious Democrat wants to antagonize:

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn: "I don't know John. Obviously he's been a supporter Democratic causes. He's been a loyal Democrat and he puts his money where his mouth is...Whether or not at this point in his life taking on that task is something he's interested in, I don't know. Certainly it is a different skillset required to be governor. But then again after last Tuesday's results I think the conventional rules are out the window. So ultimately the voters have to decide whether competence matters and whether experience matters."

Buckhorn said Morgan's possible candidacy has no bearing on his decision on running, which he expects to make in the first quarter of 2017. "I have the luxury of having a job that I love that gives me a platform every day...The best thing I can do if that's the route I choose to take is to keep doing my job. There's no one else in this race that has the platform that the mayor of Tampa does. I'm in the biggest media market in the state, and the ultimate swing area."

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee: "As I finish my term in Congress, my priority remains serving the people of my district. John is a good friend, and I appreciate all the work he has done for those in need. The issues he raises are important for all of us to discuss. I look forward to having more discussions with John and many others as we work together to put the people of Florida first."

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine: "I've never met him, but I only hear great things about him.  I know he's supposedly an excellent lawyer and cares about the people and did an excellent job with medical marijuana."

Levine, who like Morgan is capable of spending millions of his own dollars on a campaign  said he has no time frame for a decision, and noted that he has three jobs - part-time mayor, the cruise ship business, and real estate. "When you're not in government you actually have a future if you don't want to run," he said.

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Corcoran, Negron reveal dividing legislative lines

via @adamsmithtimes

Incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has little interest in continuing the tradition/charade of recent legislative presiding officers who acted like they were BFFs totally on the same page heading into a legislative session. Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, and incoming Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, appeared together Thursday at the Sayfie Review's 2016 Leadership Forum in Orlando, where clear dividing lines and tensions were on display.

"I don't think the speaker-designate will get along very well with the president-elect," Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring said after listening to the two Republican leaders cordially talk about their priorities and philosophies for the next session.

The next House Speaker sounded adamant that he will clamp down on spending that he depicted as out of control. The next Senate President said limiting spending is important, but so is investing Florida's quality of life.

"We should be frugal, we should be reasonable, but our state does need infrastructure," said Negron, noting that Floridians have among the lowest tax burdens and that he is proud of his role helping fund a senior center in his community. "Cultural funding, museums. libraries, making sure we have places where people can meet, I do think those are important" in attracting millennials to Florida.

"That's going to be a big difference between the two chambers of the next two years," retorted Corcoran, who lamented that "every single legislator spends money like a teenager in a mall with a first time credit card."

When Negron later suggested that give and take is important between the two chambers, Corcoran neither nodded nor spoke in agreement. The next Senate President said improving Lake Okeechobee, increasing higher education funding and graduation rates and trying to provide more Floridians more access to health insurance through Medicaid are among his priorities.

Corcoran was less specific. "We're going to govern unabashedly principled and unabashedly conservative," he said. "That creates tensions, that creates internal strife."

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

November 17, 2016

Miami-Dade declares Asencio finished ahead by 53 votes, but Rivera challenges result

via @glenngarvin

The recount of the nip-and-tuck legislative race between Democrat Robert Asencio and Republican David Rivera ended Thursday with Asencio 53 votes ahead — but even before the last ballot was checked, Rivera officially contested the election, a move that will likely delay the naming of a victor for weeks or even months.

After 10 hours counting ballots, the Miami-Dade County elections department declared that Asencio finished with 31,412 votes and Rivera 31,359 — a margin 15 votes closer than when the recount began.

The race was so close it actually triggered two recounts — the first by machine, and the second a hand-examination of ballots the machines thought were marked with votes for too many candidates or too few.

And it may get even tighter. Rivera’s lawyers asked elections officials to impound about 300 disputed ballots — mostly absentee ballots on which the voter’s signature was either missing or ruled not to match signatures in elections department records.

“We’ve already got affidavits from 59 of those voters saying they legitimately voted by mail and cast their ballots for me,” said Rivera, noting that would be enough to tip the election the other way.

More here.

Dwight Bullard and Millie Herrera could compete for Miami-Dade Democratic Party chair


Millie Herrera, a former appointee of President Barack Obama to the U.S. Department of Labor, will run for chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, a challenge to the current chair Sen. Dwight Bullard of Cutler Bay.

If Bullard wins the chair post Dec. 6th, he may run for chair of the Florida Democratic Party -- one of several candidates who are vying to replace Allison Tant who announced after Hillary Clinton's defeat that she won't run again in January.

"I want to get back to getting out the vote and the grassroots level," said Herrera, who lives in the Kendall area and is president of a marketing and public affairs firm. "I don't want to run for anything else. I'm not using it as a springboard to anything." 

Bullard, a teacher at Coral Reef Senior High School, was first elected to the state house in 2008 and the state senate in 2012 and has also chaired the Florida Legislative Black Caucus. His name is well-known in county politics where both his parents previously served in the state Legislature. On Nov. 8, Bullard lost a race to State Rep. Frank Artiles, a Republican, in a heavily Hispanic district.

Herrera, who was born in Cuba and is a former chair of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida, says the party needs more outreach to Cuban-American and young voters.





Scott meets president-elect inside Trump Tower


Florida Gov. Rick Scott said once again Thursday that he's not interested in serving in President-elect Donald Trump's administration, after meeting privately with Trump in New York.

"I'm staying in Florida," Scott told Neil Cavuto in a Fox News Channel interview shortly after concluding his Trump meeting. Scott, a former hospital executive, has been rumored as a contender for health and human services secretary.

Scott said he wants to help Trump be successful.

"I always believed he would win," Scott said. Of the so-far rocky transition, the governor added: "It's going to work out."

Trump plans victory tour to included 'flipped' states -- like Florida

via @learyreports

President-elect Donald Trump is planning a victory tour that will likely stop in Florida, a state that twice went for Barack Obama but Trump reclaimed for the GOP.

"We’re working on a victory tour now, it will happen in the next couple of weeks," George Gigicos, the campaign’s advance team director, told reporters in New York today.

It will happen after Thanksgiving. “Obviously to the states that we won and the swing states we flipped over," he said.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Sarasota Republican challenges RPOF chairman for post


A Sarasota County Republican announced Thursday that he will challenge Blaise Ingoglia to become the next chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Christian Ziegler, a state committeeman from Sarasota since 2012, announced in an email to GOP party officials he intends to run for the post.

Ziegler, a strong supporter of Gov. Rick Scott over the years, stressed in his email he wants to help re-unify the party. Since Ingoglia won the top post over Scott’s pick for RPOF, Scott and the Florida Senate have pulled their money from the RPOF.

“I believe we must be an independent-yet-unified Republican Party of Florida, with a Chairman whose sole focus is strengthening the Party within the most important political state in the union,” Ziegler said in his email. “I will make this my full-time mission.”

Ziegler, 33, said in an interview that he wants to create an organization that can deliver Republican victories.

Ingoglia, who is on vacation, responded on Facebook by declaring his intention to run for a second term at RPOF chairman.

"I want everyone to know that I will indeed be running for a second term as the Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida," the Hernando County Republican wrote. "In 2014, when I originally announced my candidacy for Chairman, I did so promising much needed reforms and focusing on delivering our 29 ...electoral votes to our Republican nominee. We not only delivered on our promises, we delivered historic wins for Senator Marco Rubio, our Congressional delegation, our Florida legislature, and delivered by winning the State of Florida for the first time since 2004 for now President-elect Donald Trump."

From Ziegler's announcement email:

"As we turn the page from the election, we have a lot of work to do over the next two years to ensure victory in 2018 -- work that takes focus and resources. In addition to supporting the Trump Administration, we will need to strengthen our Republican Party of Florida to send an ally to the U.S. Senate who will work alongside our great Senator, Marco Rubio. We will need to replace our term-limited Governor and the entire Cabinet, in addition to protecting majorities in the State Senate and House of Representatives. And we will need to win the many Congressional and local races across our great state.

To help generate the momentum, unity and resources we need to accomplish this, I am excited to announce my candidacy for Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, and ask for your support."

Fort Lauderdale mayor Jack Seiler said he will decide about state run in 2017



Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler will make a decision next year about whether to run for statewide office.

"I am still considering a run for statewide office in 2018, and I am especially interested in the Attorney General position," he told the Miami Herald in an email. "I will make a decision in 2017."

Attorney General Pam Bondi can't run again due to term limits and she could end up leaving her position early if she gets hired by Donald Trump's administration.

Seiler, a lawyer and Democrat, was re-elected to the mayor position in 2015. He formerly served as a state representative and mayor of Wilton Manors. He has never lost a race.

Seiler has said if he runs statewide he will run as a moderate. But if he faces a contested Democratic primary, he could face criticism for his stance on same sex marriage. Seiler, a married Catholic and father of four children, tried to stay on the sidelines of the same sex marriage debate. In 2014, he voted against a city resolution in support of same sex marriage but when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it in 2015 Seiler signed a city proclamation celebrating the decision.


Could states do end run around Electoral College system?



After Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but Donald Trump won the electoral college,activists renewed a push to revamp the system by which the presidency is awarded.

An article posted on the progressive website The Daily Kos described the effort this way:

"Eliminating the Electoral College does not even require a constitutional amendment. An effort known as The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an agreement among several U.S. states and the District of Columbia to award all their respective electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote. Once states totaling 270 electoral votes join the compact -- which only requires passing state laws -- then the next presidential election will be determined the the popular vote, not the Electoral College."

Is it possible to eliminate the Electoral College without amending the Constitution?

We wanted to get to the bottom of that claim. Little did we know we were diving into a legal nerd fest.

We aren’t going to referee all of the arguments about the practical implications and the potential pitfalls of changing how we elect the president. But we will summarize some of the key arguments. Ultimately, we found that the proposal makes sense in concept, but it’s not clear whether courts would allow the plan to go forward.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

(Photo by Shelby Lum/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

Jeremy Ring might run for Florida CFO

via @adamsmithtimes

Former state Sen. Jeremy Ring of Broward County is poised to run for chief financial officer in 2018. The investor and former Yahoo executive had been looking at running for governor but told The Buzz that the CFO post became more and more intriguing as he analyzed the job.

"I think I've been groomed for the last eight years for that," said Ring, 46, noting that he has been helping "drive the innovation economy" in .the private sector and led pension reform efforts in the legislature, where he was known as a pragmatic and generally moderate lawmaker.

Ring hasn't committed to running, but sounds pretty close to it. 

Other names floating as potential CFO candidates to succeed term limited Republican Jeff Atwater include Democratic Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, a former state House member and Republicans including state Sen. Tom Lee of Brandon, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, developer and former legislator Pat Neal of Bradenton.

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times