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August 18, 2016

Judge strikes down parts of state abortion law


A federal judge on Thursday threw out key parts of an abortion restriction law that would have blocked all state funding to clinics such as Planned Parenthood and required the inspection of as many as 35,000 women’s health records.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle made permanent an earlier decision to temporarily halt those portions of the law from going into effect while a lawsuit filed against the state by Planned Parenthood was ongoing.

Earlier this month, the two parties reached an agreement to end the suit. In it, health officials agreed to the terms of Hinkle’s earlier ruling.

Gov. Rick Scott signed the abortion law this spring. It blocked state and local money from preventive services like STD and cancer screenings at abortion clinics. State law already bans taxpayer-funded abortions.

Planned Parenthood said it stood to lose $500,0000 in government contracts for Medicaid services and education programs as a result of the law and sued. The state contracts have already been renewed, said Laura Goodhue, Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates executive director. She’s hopeful local governments will again provide grants to Planned Parenthood in the future.

In his earlier ruling, Hinkle said that portion of the law discouraged clinics from performing abortions, which he said is unconstitutional.

“You can’t defund based on exercising a constitutional right,” he told lawyers for the state during a court hearing in June

He also threw out a requirement that the state review records for half of the abortions performed each year, which generally exceeds 70,000.

Technically, the state could appeal the ruling. However, because they requested that the judge make his injunction permanent, it’s not likely they would do so

Scott’s office has not yet said whether it intends to do so.

Some parts of the abortion law remain in effect, including a requirement that physicians performing abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital or that clinics have a transfer agreement.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a law that forced Texas abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges, no one has challenged that part of the Florida law. Goodhue said Planned Parenthood doesn’t have any plans to do so at this time.

State House candidate’s son arrested — while campaigning

Roy Hardemon’s son Simeon Boykin was arrested on Thursday. Hardemon is a candidate for state House.


Campaign workers typically stand outside polling places, waving signs and shouting slogans of support for their preferred candidate.

But they are rarely arrested while trying to sway a voter.

Simeon Boykin, the son of state House candidate Roy Hardemon, was arrested outside the Kwik Stop at 6101 NE Fourth Court in Little Haiti. He was clad in a red “Elect Roy Hardemon for State Representative District 108” T-shirt at the time of his arrest. Miami police did not make the arrest report with charges available.

Lemon City Library, one of 20 early voting locations in Miami-Dade County, is across the street from the convenience store.

Hardemon told the Miami Herald that Boykin, 33, was trying to give a potential voter information on his campaign inside the Kwik Stop. The voter refused to take a campaign flier and Boykin started arguing with the clerk.

Read more here: State House candidate's son arrested--while campaigning

Tim Canova outraised Debbie Wasserman Schultz


Tim Canova outraised U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz during the most recent reporting period.

Canova raised $1 million while Wasserman Schultz raised about $300,000 between July 1 and Aug. 10, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. 

But she remained ahead in cash on hand with about $1 million remaining while he had $476,000. 

Throughout the election cycle through Aug. 10, Canova has raised about $3.3 million while Wasserman Schultz has raised $3.1 million. She has been closing the gap with multiple donations between $1,000 and $2,700 in recent days. That's an impressive haul for Canova, a first-time candidate and Nova Southeastern University law professor who is challenging an incumbent who first won office in 1992 for state house.

Canova got a boost in fundraising after Bernie Sanders announced his support for Canova and after Wasserman Schultz stepped down as Democratic National Committee chair. 

The Democrats are competing in the Aug. 30 primary in a district that stretches from western Broward to northern Miami-Dade County. 

This blog was updated after Wasserman Schultz's report posted at the FEC.

Florida trendline shows Donald Trump losing ground

via @adamsmithtimes

Amid all the talk lately about Donald Trump flailing and falling way behind Hillary Clinton in key battleground states, it's worth reminding everybody that, Florida being Florida, we should expect another close presidential election in the America's biggest battleground state.

In the last six presidential elections, after all, Florida has produced three Democratic victories and three Republican victories (one of those, the tied race of 2000). The average margin of victory over those six races was 2.7 percentage points, with the most lopsided result being Bill Clinton's 5.7 point win over Bob Dole and Ross Perot in 1996.

That said, Trump has lost ground in recent weeks in must-win Florida.

With 80 days before election day and less than 50 days before mail voting starts, Hillary Clinton leads Trump by 4.5 percentage points in the average of recent polls compiled by

Prior to the conventions, Florida was a dead heat, but the six polls conducted since then show the Democratic nominee leading by as much as 9 percentage points and as little as 1.

These numbers are not predictive, especially with the first debate still more than a month off. But for what it's worth, RealClear showed Mitt Romney leading by 1 percentage point at this point in 2012 and John McCain leading Barack Obama by nearly 3 at this point in 2008.

I haven't found an average for 2004, but a late August St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald poll showed George W. Bush leading John Kerry 48 percent to 46 percent in Florida.

Image credit:


PolitiFact Florida: Marco Rubio says he wrote, passed veteran affairs bill

MARCO+RUBIO358+JAIvia @jpgillin

Marco Rubio is touting his support for veterans in his latest campaign ad ahead of the Aug. 30 primary in the Florida Senate race.

The ad opens with snippets from veterans in the Army, Marines and Navy who are backing Rubio for his efforts to help veterans.

After a few testimonials, the screen cuts to text that reads, "Marco Rubio wrote and passed bipartisan legislation allowing the VA to fire negligent workers."

We wondered if this was correct, so we looked into it.

We learned that this is fairly accurate, with the one caveat being that his legislation was included in a larger bill, and passed as law with other reforms to the VA system.

We rate the statement Mostly True. To read more, click here.

Photo credit: Jose A. Iglesias / El Nuevo Herald


Poll: Clemens leads Slosberg, with many undecideds

A recent poll by a statewide business group has Sen. Jeff Clemens leading his Democratic primary opponent, Rep. Irv Slosberg, in their race for a state Senate seat in Palm Beach County.

The poll, conducted by The Kitchens Group for the Florida Chamber of Commerce Political Institute, has Clemens with 34 percent and Slosberg with 22 percent and 30 percent undecided, with 6 percent for the third Democrat in the District 31 race, Emmanuel Morel.

The Chamber's Marian Johnson said the poll of 350 Democrats was done last Thursday and has a margin of error of 5.2 percentage points. 

Johnson said Clemens' favorable-unfavorable numbers in the poll were 39 percent to 12 percent and Slosberg's were 30 percent to 25 percent. The Chamber has not endorsed any candidate in the closed Democratic primary, Johnson said.

EMILY's List endorses Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Debbie Wasserman Schultz


The powerful women-in-politics group, EMILY's List, has formally endorsed Weston Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who's facing her first primary challenge in more than two decades.

EMILY's List president Stephanie Schriock praised Wasserman Schultz as a "dedicated progressive public servant who has never stopped fighting for the hardworking families of Florida."

"Debbie has championed breast cancer advocacy, protected Social Security, and fought back against attacks on women’s access to health care," Schriock said in a statement. "As the first Jewish woman elected to represent Florida, Debbie has always been a trailblazer. The EMILY’s List community, over 3 million members strong, looks forward to supporting her bid for re-election."

EMILY's List -- which stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast -- works to help raise money for and elect women to public office.

Wasserman Schultz is in a tough primary battle against the progressive and Bernie Sanders-backed Tim Canova, who wants to unseat the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman in Florida's 23rd Congressional District. The district includes parts of Broward and northern Miami-Dade counties.

The last time Wasserman Schultz faced a primary opponent was 1992, when she ran for the state Legislature.

Latino labor groups aim to mobilize Florida voters against Trump



Leaders of several major Latino labor unions on Thursday declared their intent to rally Florida's Hispanic population to defeat Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and to oppose "the politics of hate."

Hispanics make up about 17 percent of Florida's electorate and are the fastest growing segment of the state's population. Voter participation among Hispanics is typically low, but labor leaders said they want to use their increased influence to make an impact in November. (They acknowledge they've said that for the past couple election cycles, but they emphasize this year really is different.)

"We’re turning this potential into a movement. We’re turning this potential out to the polls and we’re turning this potential into registering voters," Jessica Orozco, assistant vice president for policy for the Hispanic Federation, said during a press conference in Orlando.

MORE: "Hispanic growth in Florida: Will it determine the election?"

AFL-CIO executive vice president Tefere Gebre said the unions plan to use 1,000 volunteers and staff across Florida to canvass neighborhoods and to register and educate Latino voters everywhere from bodegas to schools. They also plan to use direct mail, phone banks and visits to work-sites to target Latino communities, he said.

"Latinos are energized and they’re willing to stand together against the politics of hate," Gebre said. "I’m proud to say I’m also an immigrant and a refugee, and I’ll stand up to politicians who attack our values and vote for those who are willing to stand with us. We are more American than Donald Trump will ever be."

Polls have shown Trump struggling with Hispanic voters. He alienated many with his disparaging comments last summer against Mexicans -- labeling some as "rapists" and criminals -- and with his proposal to build a wall along America's southern border.

"We call upon Latino workers across this country and across this state to say: 'no mas' ('no more')," said Esther Lopez, secretary-treasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

"We are going to stand for opportunity and hope, and we are going to stand against hate," Lopez added. "We are going to stand for dignity. We are going to stand for the power of the Latino worker."

The union leaders said their policy priorities for this election include "immigration reform with dignity," protecting workers' rights and fighting for better education and housing opportunities.

Photo credit: Maria Lozano 50, and Gabriella Genao 20, speak to the media after voting for Hillary Clinton in Florida’s presidential primary March 15. Walter Michot / Miami Herald

If he loses, Carlos Beruff won't run for office again


TP_405490_ELLI_02_beruff081HUDSON — There’s a rumor spreading in Tallahassee these days that goes like this: If Carlos Beruff loses the Republican primary for U.S. Senate this month, he’ll set his sights on a run for governor to succeed his friend Gov. Rick Scott.

But, Beruff said, it’s totally false.

“No, that’s not me,” he told the Times/Herald on Wednesday before speaking to the Heritage Pines Republican Club in Pasco County. “I’ve been asked. It’s all rumors. I never wanted to be a politician. I wanted to go fix things that are broken and a substantial portion of the ppl in Washington simply aren’t capable of fixing them.”

Beruff, a millionaire homebuilder from Bradenton, faces a tough fight against Sen. Marco Rubio on Aug. 30, when Republican voters will choose their Senate candidate.

Beruff told voters last week in Tampa that he would not seek another Senate run. But his close ties to Scott, whose allies and former staffers have largely lined up behind Beruff, spurred the gubernatorial rumors.

“I have no plans for any future,” he said. “I have a life. I have a great life.”

In this race, Beruff has already spent a considerable amount of his personal wealth. He estimates about $10 million so far, much of it on TV ads.

If he loses to Rubio, he says it’s a lot of money to have lost.

“Losing $9 million or $12 million? Nobody likes losing $10 or $12 million dollars, give me a break,” he said. “You’d have to be an idiot especially when it’s your own money, but it’s worthwhile to try to make a diff in the country.”

He entered the race in March, when Rubio was not planning on seeking reelection. In a much larger field where no one had the name recognition of a sitting senator, Beruff’s chances appeared higher. And he’s happy to admit that.

Other candidates quickly endorsed Rubio when he decided to run this summer.

Not Beruff. And he doesn’t plan to.

“I’d be two-faced, and I’m not two-faced. That’s not who I am,” he said. “Far as I’m concerned, he hasn’t done his job."

Photo: Loren Elliot, Tampa Bay Times

Versailles to Gary Johnson: no cafecito for you

Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson has a shot of Cuban coffee as he speaks with supporters outside Versailles Cuban Restaurant in Little Havana on Thursday.


Versailles is a staple for politicians of all stripes to hold court, mingle with the Cuban-American community and drink a cafecito.

But Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson was asked to leave on Thursday morning.

Johnson entered the restaurant with media in tow and began to conduct a radio interview. That's when a manager asked the reporters and cameras — along with the former New Mexico governor — to leave.

“I didn't get authorization,” a manager said when asked if Johnson had permission to schedule a campaign stop inside.

Politicians typically have a room off to the side where they conduct campaign events in the restaurant. Johnson walked right in and found the first open table, a sign that he didn't have prior authorization. A large party was going on in the back.

Read more here: Versailles to Gary Johnson: no cafecito for you