Note: This blog's templates will be updated this afternoon to a responsive design bringing it in line with

At that time, we will also change to the Facebook commenting system. You will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment.

September 18, 2016

Kasich to campaign for Curbelo in Miami


A former presidential candidate not named Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio is hitting the campaign trail Monday for U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo

Ohio Gov. John Kasich plans to tour the New Hope Substance Abuse Center with Curbelo in Homestead, at the heart of Florida's swing 26th congressional district.

Kasich often brought up substance abuse on the campaign trail during the Republican primary, in which he ran as a moderate. Curbelo is also touting the political center in his reelection race against Democratic challenger Joe Garcia.

Pasco County, a microcosm of Trump's working-class support in Florida

via @adamsmithtimes

Donald Trump’s prospects for winning the White House will probably rise or fall among the strip malls and 1,000-square-foot ranch homes of southwest Pasco County.

In this working-class suburb of Tampa Bay, finding people enthusiastically supporting Hillary Clinton is tough. Finding people enthusiastically supporting Trump is less difficult.

Finding people fed up with the status quo is a piece of cake.

“It’s not that I like Trump that much, it’s that I dislike Hillary so much. I don’t think [Barack] Obama did anything for us, and I see it continuing with Hillary. At least with Trump, there’s a chance for some change, and I’m all for change,” said 66-year-old retiree Ken Seekford, plunging into a bowl of soup at Jimmy’s Restaurant in downtown New Port Richey.

A lifelong Democrat who moved to Pasco from Maryland two years ago, Seekford is so turned off by Clinton that he switched his registration to Republican after watching the Democratic National Convention.

“Look at everything she was caught in,” he said. “With those emails, somebody asks her, ‘Did you wipe your hard drive?’ And she says, ‘What do you mean, with a rag?’ Come on, she’s smarter than that.”

Trump can’t win the presidency without winning Florida, and many observers question how he can win Florida if he fails to do better among Florida’s one in three minority voters. That’s not expected to happen.

So how is it that poll after poll shows Trump running neck-and-neck with Clinton, with a real shot at winning Florida’s 29 electoral votes? The answer lies behind the Advanced Auto Parts and Big Lots stores along U.S. 19, in 40-year-old subdivisions with names like Holiday Lakes Estates, Beacon Square and Regency Park.

Those who divide Florida into political territories call this corner of Pasco County Florida House District 36.

More here.

September 17, 2016

Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio agree: Don't pardon Edward Snowden



Despite their myriad differences, U.S. Senate candidates Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy are on the same page when it comes to Edward Snowden's fate.

Both the Republican incumbent and his Democratic challenger believe President Barack Obama should not pardon Snowden, the man who a few years ago leaked details of classified national security surveillance programs.

Talk of a potential pardon for Snowden made headlines this week, as a new movie about Snowden's life debuted in theaters amid a push by major human rights groups for Obama to pardon him for his actions.

The House Intelligence Committee -- of which Murphy is a member -- weighed in on the matter, too, with the completion of its own two-year inquiry and a unanimous letter to Obama on Thursday emphatically urging against a Snowden pardon.

"Given the findings by the House Intelligence Committee on which he serves, Congressman Murphy joined the entire bipartisan committee in strongly opposing a pardon for Snowden," Murphy's congressional spokeswoman Erin Moffet said in a statement to the Herald/Times.

"The congressman believes Edward Snowden should be held accountable for his actions," Moffet said. "The theft and disclosure of classified American military, defense, and intelligence documents, which may now be available to Russia, China, and other adversaries, must not be taken lightly.  Snowden not only violated privacy interests, but also harmed our national security."

Asked by the Herald/Times for Rubio's opinion on a Snowden pardon, Rubio's campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said the senator also doesn't support it.

"Marco has been saying for years that Edward Snowden is a traitor, and he should face the full consequences for his dangerous betrayal of the U.S.," Perez-Cubas said.

Continue reading "Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio agree: Don't pardon Edward Snowden" »

September 16, 2016

Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti: Trump learns to play Miami's ethnic politics


@PatriciaMazzei @AmySherman1

Donald Trump offered a little bit Friday to almost every one in Miami. To Cubans, he vowed to reverse President Barack Obama’s reengagement policy. To Venezuelans, he promised to stand with their “oppressed” countrymen. To Haitians, he pledged to be their “champion.”

Fifty-three days before the election, Trump seemed to have finally assimilated a fundamental rule of Miami’s heavily ethnic politics: Candidates must target their messages to each community.

Short on time until Nov. 8, Trump tried to ingratiate himself with several groups in a single afternoon. He dropped by the Little Haiti Cultural Center to meet privately with Haitian-American professionals. Then he raced to downtown Miami’s James L. Knight Center for a pulsating rally attended by some 2,500 people — in spite of horrendous traffic fueled in part by a pair of Friday night concerts by Kanye West and Meghan Trainor.

“Welcome to all of you deplorables!” he said, riffing off Hillary Clinton’s recent gaffe. For the first time, Trump entered one of his rallies to the tune of “Do You Hear the People Sing,” from the musical “Les Miserables.” The digital screen behind him read: “Les Deplorables.”

“Boy oh boy, we’re going to have a good time tonight!” Trump declared.

Trump sounded more than ever like a traditional Republican nominee, calling Obama’s renewed diplomatic relations with Cuba “one-sided” and helpful only to the Castro regime.

More here.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, Miami Herald staff

Miami Beach Zika zone triples

viaa @joeflech

The zone of active transmission of Zika in Miami Beach has tripled, expanding north from 28th Street to 63rd Street.

Gov. Rick Scott announced the expansion late Friday evening.

The Florida Department of Health has identified five people, two males and three females, in the expanded area who all experienced symptoms within one month of each other.


Donald Trump's visit brings a roving ad against Miami-Dade's mayor, too


As Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez distances himself from Donald Trump, his rival's supporters are trying to make the parting as painful as possible. 

Gimenez and his 2016 challenger, school-board member Raquel Regalado, are both Republican and both say they won't vote for Trump. But Gimenez has ties to the GOP nominee: the two were once in talks about the mogul taking over a county golf course, and an Gimenez son does local lobbying work for the Trump organization. 

When Trump came to Miami Friday on a campaign swing, a political committee boosting mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado paid to have a moving billboard advertise Gimenez's recent negative comments about his party's standard-bearer.

"Dear Donald -- I hope you saw my quotes in the Miami Herald," read the billboard posted on a flatbed truck, which was circling a Trump rally in downtown Miami. It went on to lay out Gimenez's anti-Trump and pro-Hillary Clinton statements made to CBS 4's Jim Defede and reported in a recent Naked Politics post

"I think Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president," the billboard quoted Gimenez as saying. "Donald Trump, I'm not sure he has the make-up to be president."

It ends with a postscript: "P.S. Please do not fire my son...just because I do not like you."

Miami-Dade Partnership for Prosperity hired Mobile Billboard Miami to drive the ad around Miami. Miami-Dade Partnership for Prosperity is a 501c4, which means donors remain secret. In an interview earlier this year, Regalado, acknowledged sending would-be donors to the group if they wanted to support her without the donations becoming public. Gimenez has at least one similar organization, the Business Action League, supporting him. 

Regalado and Gimenez are now in the same place when it come to Trump, with both Republicans saying they won't for him but also stopping short of saying they will back his Democratic rival. 


Miami Lakes mayor pushing back on American Dream Miami mega-mall plan, calls special meeting


American Dream Miami's proposal to build the largest mall in America near Miami Lakes is drawing criticism from the city's mayor. 

Michael Pizzi, mayor of Miami Lakes, called a special meeting for Tuesday night on the proposal for the four-million-square-foot retail theme park, which the owner of Minnesota's Mall of America wants to build west of Miami Lakes. 

"This will be a great opportunity for myself and the Council to receive input from the community, and hold discussions regarding the 'Mega Mall' application prior to any recommendations being made by County staff," Pizzi wrote in an email to residents in announcing the meeting for Tuesday, Sept. 21,  at 7:15 p.m. at the Miami Lakes Town Hall. "The Town of Miami Lakes has an obligation to make sure that our residents' interests are protected during this process. "

In an interview, Pizzi sounded alarmed at the prospect of American Dream Miami's potential to draw tens of thousands of new cars to the area every day. 

"I'm gravely concerned about the impact of this behemoth," he said. "It's time for the public educated before this is a done deal." 

A representative of American Dream Miami did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Report: DSCC makes further cuts to Florida ad buy

Murphy _ ap


Senate Democrats' chief campaign committee is withdrawing even more advertising money from Florida, cutting its once-$10 million ad reservation down to $6 million, Politico reported this afternoon.

It's not good news for Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy -- who needs the boost of outside spending to improve his low statewide name recognition and to sway voters in his bid to unseat Republican incumbent U.S Sen. Marco Rubio.

MORE: "$40 million worth of ads are coming in Murphy-Rubio battle"

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had originally been scheduled to debut its ads in Florida on Sept. 20, but over the past two weeks, the committee cut at least $1.5 million in planned ads -- delaying most of its airtime until October.

But Politico reports the DSCC is further "ceding ground" in expensive states like Florida and Ohio in favor of races in North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana.

On top of the cancellations and reductions in ad time for September, the DSCC on Friday was also cutting time for the week of Oct. 4, according to various reports. It appears that cancellation amounted to about $2.5 million.

When asked for comment, DSCC spokeswoman Sadie Weiner referred the Herald/Times to the Politico story. She did not respond to earlier emails Thursday and Friday asking for an updated figure on the committee's planned ad buy.

Amid the DSCC's reductions, Democratic officials have argued that a $10.5 million planned ad buy that began this week by the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, would be more than enough to fight on Murphy's behalf.

But Republicans will be out in force for Rubio, too. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has already spent $2 million of a $4.8 million ad buy planned before Oct. 2. And the Senate Leadership Fund, a conservative super PAC, plans to start a $10.8 million ad buy on Tuesday.

Photo credit: AP

Outside groups plan $40M+ in TV ads for Florida U.S. Senate race



At least a dozen super PACs and independent political groups have pledged at least $40 million so far in reserved TV time in Florida’s U.S. Senate race — hoping to use a barrage of commercials before Election Day to steer voters to Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio or Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

The money is almost split evenly between Republican and Democratic backers, with about $20 million on each side, the Herald/Times found.

And that doesn’t even count the millions the candidates’ own campaigns might pour into TV advertising. Both launched their first ads of the general election this month, but neither campaign would discuss with the Herald/Times how much they planned to spend through November.

Meanwhile, at least $12 million has already been spent by roughly two dozen groups to buoy Murphy’s and Rubio’s campaigns with outside support, including TV ads, Federal Election Commission records compiled by ProPublica show.

The tens of millions of dollars these political influencers are investing — from the conservative Koch brothers to liberal labor unions — is another mark of how important Florida’s U.S. Senate race is on the national stage.

More here.

Image credits: Marco Rubio's U.S. Senate campaign and Senate Majority PAC/AFSCME People / YouTube

Q and A with Donald Polmann, new PSC commissioner

Donald Polmann 3Donald Polmann, Gov. Rick Scott's second new addition to the powerful Public Service Commission, comes to the job with a commitment to "balance and thoroughness." Here are excerpts from our interview:

Q: This is your third time applying, a testament to your interest in the job, explain that?

A: "I am committed to public service and i very much enjoy working and doing that type of work. I worked at Tampa Bay Water [formerly known as the West Coast Regional Water Supply] for 18 years and I always felt that it was important work, serving the public and delivering a vital service."

After he left Tampa Bay Water in 2012, Polmann applied for the first time to the Public Service Commission and has since been a civil and environmental engineering consultant.

"I've been looking to get back to government work since then. It's not that I don't enjoy consulting work. I very much enjoy public service. I really felt it was my place."

He said he left Tampa Bay Water after he felt he had "done my best work and had made significant contirbutions and it was time to move on and seek something else."

Q: What will you  bring to the PSC?

Continue reading "Q and A with Donald Polmann, new PSC commissioner" »