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November 09, 2016

Big win over Garcia keeps Curbelo in Congress

via @AndresViglucci @glenngarvin @Chabelih

Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo handily held onto his seat on Tuesday in one of the most closely watched congressional races in the country after turning back a challenge from the Democrat he unseated two years ago, Joe Garcia.

With most of the vote counted, Curbelo was ahead by 12 points in the battleground 26th Congressional District, which sprawls from Westchester to Key West, despite a redrawing that pushed its electoral make-up to the left after the Republican ousted Garcia in 2014. The new district’s demographics put the incumbent, who fashioned himself as one of a dwindling species — a moderate Republican — at something of a disadvantage.

But Curbelo carefully threaded the political needle, pointedly repudiating GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, while bolstering his credentials with conservative Cuban Americans in the ethnically and politically diverse district by criticizing Garcia, a former head of the Cuban American National Foundation, for his support of President Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Cuba.

Curbelo, who at one point compared Trump to the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, also said he would not vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton, but never publicly revealed his presidential vote despite persistent goading from Garcia.

More here.

Photo credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald

Rubio congratulates Trump on 'tone' in victory

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio's statement:

"I congratulate President-elect Trump‎ and Vice President-elect Pence on their victory. They listened to the frustrations and anxieties of the American people after eight years of failure in Washington and earned this opportunity to lead the country. Their victory, along with Republican Senate and House victories across the country, are a clear rejection of business as usual in Washington.

"It's been a long, tough and hard-fought election, but President-elect Trump struck the right tone last night by asking the country to come together. Whether you voted for him or not, he will soon be our president and our nation can only be successful in the years to come by helping him succeed.

"I'm honored to be returning to the Senate to serve the people of Florida for another six years. I'm hopeful that these next two years with a Republican Senate, House and White House allow us to accomplish even more positive things on behalf of the people of Florida and for the greater good of our country."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

So much for Rubio 2020

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio’s easy victory, declared just after polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, immediately raised the 2020 talk.

So how much more interesting are things now with President-elect Donald Trump?

Rubio was poised, along with a gaggle of other Republicans, to emerge as the face of the anti-Hillary Clinton movement that Trump was widely expected to fall short of carrying past Election Day. The bilingual Republican savior Rubio was staring at Act 2.

Now Rubio will have to once again navigate Trump, a man he deemed a con man, too dangerous to oversee the nation's nuclear codes, not enough aggressive toward Vladimir Putin.

Rubio has said he'll stand up to Trump, act as a check on his power. But for the time being, it seems implausible that he, or any other ambitious Republican, will dare to mess with the movement Trump built -- a movement that rejected establishment politicians.

At the same time, Rubio has a chance to legislate like never before. With the GOP controlling Washington, will he pursue his anti-abortion agenda? What about Cuba policy? His ideas for expanded child tax credits?

How interesting are things now?

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Pam Bondi seen as playing role in Trump's new administration

When Donald Trump arrived in the ballroom of the New York Hilton Midtown early Wednesday, two prominent Floridians were in the room: Attorney General Pam Bondi and lobbyist Brian Ballard, Trump's Florida finance chairman.

Both are expected to play important roles as Trump begins the transition from candidate to president and begins to fill thousands of high-level jobs in the new administration.

Ballard, a Trump adviser, and Trump's senior Florida strategist, Susie Wiles, who was in Orlando on election night, separately said Trump and Bondi are personally close and that it would beno surprise if she's offered a high-level post in Washington with two years left in her term as A.G.

"I would imagine her opportunities are unlimited," Ballard said of Bondi.

"There's nobody closer to Trump in Florida than Pam Bondi," Ballard said Wednesday. "He appreciates everything she did for him." Bondi endured weeks of scathing public and press criticism over her acceptance of a $25,000 campaign donation from a Trump foundation in 2013, but she soon returned to the campaign trail.

In conversations with Trump's Florida inner circle Wednesday, others mentioned included retiring U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Pensacola; his successor, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach; state Rep.-elect Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota; and Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami.

Democrats make just minor gains in Florida Legislature


Democrats gained a little ground in the Florida Legislature on Tuesday, but it was far from the dramatic change some had banked on.

Democrats picked up just one seat in the Florida Senate and now Republicans hold a 25 to 15 advantage. In the House Democrats are close to gaining two seats in the Florida House, to cut the GOP majority there to 79-41.

While it is progress, it is far from the 3 to 5 seats Democrats were hoping to pick up in the Senate and 5 to 7 seats they anticipated in the House. Republicans will retain dominating majorities in both the House and the Senate, plus Republicans hold the governor’s mansion and all three of the other elected cabinet positions.

“It was clearly not a good night,” state Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, said.

With bigger gains, Democrats could have been in better position to slow down bad Republican policies, Clemens said.

“We’re going to see more of the same,” Clemens said.

Incoming Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said the results show Republicans can win down ballot even in places that may not seem hospitable at first glance.

“I think it demonstrates that a superior candidate with a more persuasive message will win regardless of the environment,” said Negron, who estimated he drove a thousand miles a week in support of GOP candidates.

With that big of a majority, bills to allow guns on school campus, allow open carry of firearms and restrict bathrooms used by people who are transgender are all more likely to get a serious hearing in the Florida Senate, Negron said.

"I would expect those issue will be debated, and other," Negron said. "I'm not afraid of any ideas." 

After U.S. Senate defeat, Patrick Murphy taking time for himself



Following his decisive loss to Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on Tuesday night, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is keeping a low profile.

He's not doing any media interviews today, his campaign said. (The Herald/Times did request one.) The two-term Jupiter congressman has "no immediate plans" other than spending the next few days with family and friends, his campaign said.

After a hard-fought, 20-month campaign, advisers say Murphy was realistic about his odds and was prepared for Tuesday's outcome -- long indicated by consistent polls in Rubio's favor.

Murphy also knew that, regardless of the result, his life would change Tuesday, his campaign said: He'd either be a newly elected U.S. senator or he'd be on his way out as a public official.

Voters decided the latter would be Murphy's fate.

Photo credit: Jim Rassol / Sun Sentinel

Rubio's margin of victory: 716,833 votes



While some expected Florida's U.S. Senate race to be relatively close at the end, Florida voters were decisive in re-electing Republican Marco Rubio on Tuesday.

In complete but unofficial results, Rubio's margin of victory was 8 percentage points -- 716,833 votes, to be precise, out almost 9.3 million cast.

Rubio outperformed president-elect Donald Trump -- who took Florida by about 120,000 votes out of almost 9.4 million cast -- while Rubio's Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy underperformed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Rubio beat Murphy 52 percent to 44 percent, while Trump beat Clinton in Florida 49 percent to 48 percent.

MORE: Rubio returns to U.S. Senate

Murphy, a two-term congressman from Jupiter, won the majority of the vote in only nine of Florida's 67 counties -- most of them in reliably blue hotspots: Alachua, Gadsen, Leon, Orange, Osceola and St. Lucie counties, plus the Democratic stronghold of South Florida: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

While Rubio, of West Miami, lost his home county to Murphy by 109,000 votes, Rubio easily won most of Florida's rural counties and two key metros: Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. In Florida bellwether Hillsborough County, Rubio won by just 2,900 votes, with stronger support in the surrounding counties. In Duval County, Rubio's advantage was more than 69,000 votes.

Murphy -- who will now exit Congress in January after representing the Treasure Coast and northern Palm Beach County for four years -- had a mixed bag in his moderate congressional district. (His redistricted seat went back in the red column Tuesday, won by Republican Brian Mast.)

He won in Palm Beach County by more than 61,000 votes and eked by in St. Lucie County with 3,300 more votes than Rubio. However, he lost Martin County to Rubio by more than 16,000 votes.

Polls had shown Rubio ahead in nearly all polls in the Senate race -- by various margins -- since he declared for re-election in June. Less than a handful had Murphy evenly tied with him.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

It's President Trump

Campaign 2016 Trump (1)

Donald John Trump rode his phenom candidacy into the White House on Tuesday, triumphantly amassing an extraordinary national coalition of voters who embraced his populist message of upending the political establishment to become the 45th president of the United States.

Florida set the stage for his stunning upset, offering results early in the night that showed the Republican outperforming Democrat Hillary Clinton in the nation’s largest battleground state, where a loss would have ended all of his hopes for the presidency.

Then came cascading wins in Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania — and the clincher, Wisconsin, just before 2:30 a.m.

Trump promptly made his way to his victory party, at the New York Hilton Midtown, where chants of “Lock her up!” had broke out through the night.

Clinton called Trump to concede, just a few minutes after her campaign chairman, John Podesta, had said under the glimmering glass ceiling of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York that Clinton wouldn’t speak Election Night because “they’re still counting votes.”

More here.

Photo credit: Evan Vucci, Associated Press

November 08, 2016

Trump takes Florida

Election 2016 Trump


Donald Trump rode his phenom candidacy into a triumphant Florida victory Tuesday night, amassing a coalition of voters who embraced his populist message of upending the political establishment.

It was still too early to call the national presidential race between Trump and Hillary Clinton. But Trump needed a Florida win to have any hope of reaching the White House, and he had already been declared the winner in another all-important swing state, Ohio. Those triumphs could portend similar results elsewhere: The last person to win the White House after losing Florida and Ohio was John F. Kennedy, in 1960.

Trump led in projected Electoral College votes when Florida, a state President Barack Obama carried twice, was called shortly before 11 p.m.

Unofficial Florida results showed Trump narrowly edging Clinton thanks to record support in deeply red media markets, such as Jacksonville and Fort Myers. His biggest strength, though, appeared to be in bellwether Tampa: Despite losing the city itself, Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, posted robust numbers in the Tampa suburbs and exurbs.

In essence, Trump — propelled by white voters acting as a bloc — won big in places where, four years ago, Mitt Romney won small. And it added up.

More here.

Photo credit: Paul Sancya, Associated Press