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August 26, 2016

Clinton counters Trump outreach to African-Americans in new Florida ad


Donald Trump has been trying to attract more African-American voters by asking them, "What do you have to lose?"

Hillary Clinton's answer, in a TV ad airing in Florida, is: "Everything."

Clinton will need black voters to cast ballots for her in big numbers to recreate President Barack Obama's winning coalition. Polls show African-Americans strongly favoring the Democrat.

The ad is also playing in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to the Clinton camp.


Rubio appears ready to reverse TPP support

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio is expressing doubts about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, suggesting he may be ready to reverse support, a stark example of eroding support for trade agreements in the Donald Trump era.

"Well, we still haven't made a final determination," Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times this week. "I've reviewed the trade commission's report. I've been meeting with advocates both for and against it. I'm a little disappointed in the returns on it — the economic returns are more modest than I had anticipated."

A reversal would be striking because Rubio has been an outspoken champion for the deal and free trade agreements in general. It comes as the White House is making a push for congressional approval in the lame duck session, a prospect that has triggered ferocious lobbying from both sides.

Rubio, who is running for re-election and still has presidential aspirations, said he has "a couple" of additional meetings with TPP proponents but added that he was also "concerned" about intellectual property issues.

"I believe we need a trade agreement, but it's got to be one that is good for America. We're only going to get one shot at it," Rubio said. "The returns on it are a bit more modest than I had anticipated. They're good for agriculture, but not very good for manufacturing."

"Proponents," he added, "I'm going to let them make their argument."

Continue reading "Rubio appears ready to reverse TPP support" »

Pam Keith electrifies Pinellas Democrats over Grayson; Murphy didn't attend

Pam keithvia @JackSuntrup

CLEARWATER — A 47-year-old Miami labor attorney and Navy veteran paced around a pint-sized Marriott hotel ballroom Thursday evening throwing out ideas to Pinellas County Democrats.

They loved it.

Require that the military buy guns only from manufacturers that don't sell civilians AR-15-style weapons? That sounds interesting. Make gun owners carry insurance? Absolutely. Collect data on judges to ensure they apply the law evenly to all races and genders? Worth a shot.

"Equality under the law is not about the way the law is written," the attorney told roughly 75 people at the monthly meeting of the Pinellas Democratic Party. "It's about the way the law is applied."

If you hadn't seen the social media notices, you might not know who the attorney was. She's Pam Keith, and she's running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate in the Aug. 30 primary. You may have heard of her opponents, U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson of Orlando and Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, but she hasn't gained much traction — which is curious, based on the positive reaction of the crowd.

MORE: "Florida, meet your U.S. Senate candidates"

Teresa Kelly, 56, of St. Petersburg, voted early for Grayson. Did she have buyer's remorse, based on how Keith electrified the crowd?

"Maybe a little," Kelly said. "Maybe I didn't do my homework, and I'm ashamed to admit that."

Read the full story here.

Mason-Dixon poll: Clinton 44%, Trump 42% in Florida


Florida's presidential race is quite close, according to a new poll, with Democrat Hillary Clinton leading Republican Donald Trump by only 2 percentage points.

Clinton's 44-42 percent advantage over Trump is within the 4-percentage-point error margin of the survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. Libertarian Gary Johnson received 6 percent support, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein 2 percent.

The survey shows Trump is less liked that Clinton. Thirty-five percent of respondents viewed her favorably while 45 percent viewed her unfavorably. For Trump, those numbers were 29 percent and 52 percent, respectively.

Clinton leads among Democrats, women, African-Americans and Hispanics. Trump is favored among Republicans, independents, men and non-Hispanic whites. 

Florida's swing I-4 corridor is essentially tied. Trump is ahead in North and Southwest Florida, and Clinton in Southeast Florida.

Mason-Dixon polled 625 registered voters by phone from Aug. 22-24.

Florida absentee-ballot returns show spike in unlikely voters casting ballots

via @adamsmithtimes

The political team at the Florida Chamber of Commerce has come across a remarkable trend this campaign season: A huge spike in mail voting by people who rarely vote in primary elections.

Almost half of the mail ballots returned so far for Tuesday’s primary election have come from Floridians who voted in either one or zero of the past four primary elections. That means a big, decisive chunk of the vote will come from people who have not been polled, and potentially not courted, targeted or accounted for by countless campaigns across the state.

“This is huge,” said Marian Johnson, senior vice president of political strategy for the Florida Chamber and one of the foremost experts on Florida campaigns and politics. “I can envision election night when the votes are counted that certain people win that nobody thought had a chance, and that being attributed to this trend.”

As of Thursday morning, more than 855,000 primary ballots had been cast by mail. More than a quarter of those votes came from Floridians who had not voted in the last four primaries and another 20 percent from people who voted in just one of the last four primaries.

More here.

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush on Trump's immigration shift: 'I find it abhorrent'

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush said Donald Trump looks like “a typical politician” as the nominee has shifted on immigration and appears to hold views similar to Bush’s, despite attacking Bush as soft on the issue.

“I can only say that whatever his views are this morning, they might change this afternoon, and they were different than they were last night, and they'll be different tomorrow," Bush said on WABC.

"Sounds like a typical politician, by the way, where you get in front of one crowd and say one thing, and then say something else to another crowd that may want to hear a different view. All the things that Donald Trump railed against, he seems to be morphing into. It’s kind of disturbing.”

Bush will not change his view on Trump. “I don’t know what to believe about a guy who doesn't believe in things. ... This is all a game," Bush said. "His views will change based on the feedback he gets from a crowd, or, you know, what he thinks he has to do."

"For me, I couldn't do that. I have to believe what I believe, and if it’s popular, great. If it’s not, I try to get better at presenting my views. But shifting my views because it’s political to do it? That’s what politicians do in this country. That's what Trump is trying to do right now. I find it abhorrent.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

State Senate candidate Andrew Korge won’t be charged in supposed bribe scheme

OBAMA0614 gen44Korge BLB

via @DavidOvalle305

Prosecutors won’t be charging state Senate candidate Andrew Korge over allegations that he offered a $25,000 “bribe” to an opponent to switch races.

The reason: Korge and his consultants insisted the figure wasn’t supposed to be any kind of direct payment, but a target amount of money he would help fundraise for Dwight Bullard.

“Korge indicated that he desired to assist Bullard for the betterment of the Democratic Party’s goals and mission,” according to a final report on the investigation released Thursday by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

Korge’s claim was bolstered by text messages that showed Bullard, weeks earlier, had asked for help from Korge in fundraising, according to the report.

“I’m thrilled the State Attorney’s office has cleared me of any wrongdoing,” Korge said Thursday night. “I’m going to continue to be focused on this campaign.”

The report ends a strange side story to the race for the District 40 seat, which pits Korge against Bullard and Missalys Perez in Tuesday’s primary race. Former State Rep. Ana Rivas Logan is also on the primary ballot, although she suspended her campaign.

The winner will take on Republican State Rep. Frank Artiles in November.

Korge, the son of prominent Democratic fundraiser Chris Korge, is a political newcomer who has dismayed some politicians with his aggressive tactics. He has switched campaigns several times in the past 15 months, drawing criticism for “shopping” for a favorable seat he could win.

August 25, 2016

Rubio raps FEMA over algae blooms

Senate 2016 Rubio_Ordo (1)-082516


Sen. Marco Rubio criticized the Obama administration for again declining to issue a federal disaster declaration in response to toxic algae in Florida's waterways.

"Even though the end to this disaster is not in sight, the President is telling our state we are on our own," the Miami Republican said Thursday in a statement.

Barack Obama did not appear to be involved in the decision. In a brief letter earlier Thursday, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate rejected Gov. Rick Scott's appeal of his agency's earlier denial of extra money to help fight the algae blooms from Lake Okeechobee discharges intended to protect its aging dike.

"After a thorough review of all information contained in your initial request and appeal, we reaffirm our original findings that supplemental federal assistance under the Stafford Act is not appropriate for this event," Fugate wrote to Scott. "Therefore, I must inform you that your appeal for an emergency declaration is denied."

The thick algae blooms look like guacamole and smell bad. The algae has fouled Treasure Coast waterways fed by Lake Okeechobee.

"The Administration has chosen yet again to turn a blind eye to the livelihoods of Floridians who are affected by this toxic algae," Rubio said.

For more on Rubio's response:

Photo credit: Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press


Read more here:


GOP primary between Marco Rubio and Carlos Beruff already looks over


Tuesday is Florida's primary elections, but you wouldn't know it by watching either of the two top Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate over the past week.

Carlos Beruff, the brash, self funding Republican hoping to take out Sen. Marco Rubio, has had just one campaign appearance over the last six days and reduced his television advertising spending.

Rubio has given three public campaign speeches totaling about one hour over three days and mentioned the looming primary race for all of 30 seconds. And in that short mention to campaign volunteers in Tallahassee, Rubio characterized Tuesday's get-out-the-vote effort as "practice" for what his campaign will need in November.

Officially both campaigns say they are still working hard and taking nothing for granted. But the actions of both show that reality is setting in with each new poll. On Thursday, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research released new polling data from 400 likely Republican voters that showed 61 percent back Rubio, compared to just 22 percent for Beruff.

Rubio has this lead even though Beruff has poured more than $8 million of his own money into the campaign and pounded Rubio in a barrage of negative television ads over a six-week period.

Beruff's campaign is bypassing smaller events that campaigns traditionally do in the days before an election, and is focusing instead on TV interviews in key markets to reach a bigger audience. On Wednesday, for instance, Beruff did a pair of interviews in Spanish in Miami. On Miami's Colombian-American radio station, Caracol, Beruff insisted he had no regrets about the campaign and was not giving up.

"I don't know how to quit," he said.

Full Story Here


Message from South Florida water managers: Don't make us mad

SFWMD InterlandiIf you want to keep a low profile, don't disagree with the South Florida Water Management District, or ask for its email list.

That's what Lisa Interlandi, a lawyer with the nonprofit Everglades Law Center, and other environmental advocates have learned in the last few months as they have become the target of email blasts by the state agency.

The latest email was issued Monday to the more than 5,000 addresses on the district's email list. With a subject head labeled "Your privacy," the agency gave out Interlandi's email address and then announced she had done what anyone in Florida is entitled to do: submit a records request seeking SFWMD's email distribution list.

"As you may know, such email lists and addresses are commercial commodities that are often bought and sold,'' the agency wrote. It cited no examples. "The law prohibits SFWMD from asking about the intended use for the information. Any concern you may have about a potential invasion of privacy is understandable."

Interlandi said the suggestion that she wanted to sell the list was “absurd.”

“It's a public record. It has no value. Anyone who asks for it can get it for free,’’ she said. Instead, she said she wanted the list after watching the water management district increasingly use hostile news releases to target critics of the agency and she thought having the list could be helpful if anyone wanted to "counter the attacks."

Randy Smith, spokesman for the SFWMD, said Thursday the agency never before had “received a mass public records demand for an email address list” and called the request “completely out of the ordinary.”

“Persons having entrusted their email addresses to the state have every right to know that their information has been obtained by a third party without their consent,’’ he said.

Most other state agencies include a standard disclosure on the bottom of agency emails remainding people that Florida has a broad public records law and most written communication to or from state officials regarding state business -- including all emails -- is considered a public record.

The SFWMD, which is funded by state and local tax dollars and is considered a state agency, does not include such a disclosure when it sends out blast emails to its more than 5,000 recipients. Smith did not answer why. Story here. 

Above: Excerpt from SFWMD Aug. 22 blast email


We asked the district to explain the policy and decisions surrounding it. Here are our questions and its answers:

Continue reading "Message from South Florida water managers: Don't make us mad" »