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August 24, 2016

Trump endorsed Rubio, but Beruff continues to make play for Trump supporters ahead of primary



With Donald Trump back in Tampa Bay, U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff is trying again to make a play for support from Trump backers.

"Carlos Beruff supports Donald Trump 100%," Beruff's campaign declared in a press release that went out just an hour before a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Hillsborough County.

More specifically, Trump and Beruff see eye to eye on a temporary ban on immigration from the Middle East and on building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, the press release declares.

Beruff's big problem? When Trump's was in Florida earlier this month he left little doubt he supported Marco Rubio for re-election.

"By the way, I endorsed Marco Rubio, he endorsed me. He's doing well. Vote for Marco," Trump said at a rally in Daytona.  

Poll: Trump, Clinton tied in presidential; Rubio, Murphy favorites in Senate primary



A new statewide poll released by Florida Atlantic University today shows the presidential contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump essentially a toss-up in Florida this month.

Among 1,200 registered likely voters in the November election, Trump got 43 percent support while Clinton got 41 percent. That's within the margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent.

In Florida's nationally watched U.S. Senate race, the poll has Republican incumbent Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy as the clear favorites in Tuesday's primary.

Rubio led the GOP field with 69 percent support, trailed by undecided voters at 15 percent and Manatee County home-builder Carlos Beruff at 8 percent. FAU said 327 registered Republican, likely primary voters were surveyed with results having a margin of error of plus or minus 5.4 percent.

Meanwhile in the Democratic race, the poll found Murphy with 54 percent support, with 22 percent still undecided. Alan Grayson got 7.6 percent in the poll, while Pam Keith received 7.4 percent. The university surveyed 364 registered Democratic, likely primary voters; the results had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.1 percent.

The poll results for the Democratic primary reflect either a recent, drastic decline in voters' attitude toward Grayson or an anomaly. Most other polls for the U.S. Senate race have consistently shown Grayson with at least 17 percent support, including one done by Suffolk University a couple weeks prior.

FAU conducted its survey Aug. 19-22 using automated telephone polling. Find the full results here.

In a potential general election match-up between Rubio and Murphy, the poll found Rubio leading Murphy, 44 percent to 39 percent, with almost 12 percent undecided. About 5 percent preferred someone else.

Rubio would have a stronger chance against Grayson, according to the poll. In that match-up, Rubio got 45 percent support to Grayson's 34 percent, with 11 percent undecided. About 10 percent preferred an alternative.

Image credit: FAU poll of 1,200 likely general election voters in Florida, Aug. 19-22. Margin of error: +/- 2.7 percent

Negative mailer surfaces in Little Haiti House race



Former North Miami councilwoman Marie Steril is one of seven Democrats vying for a Little Haiti-based Florida House seat, but her record is under fire in a recent mailer sent across District 108.

The mailer references an ethics complaint that Steril settled after allowing her mother to receive lavish upgrades on a city-subsidized home renovation. The Department of Housing and Urban Development fined the city of North Miami $154,000 for failing to report the conflict of interest. 

"Think you can trust Marie Steril?" the mailer reads. "Just Google her name." 

The mailer is paid for by Engaged Florida, a political action committee that spent $19,337.12 for mail pieces on Aug. 9, according to state records. The chairperson and treasurer of the PAC is Christian Ulvert, a Miami-based political consultant working for Steril opponent Francesca Menes.

Ulvert did not immediately return a call for comment. 


Patrick Murphy votes early for August primary



Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy took advantage of Florida's early voting by casting his primary ballot today at a polling site in Palm Beach Gardens.

The two-term congressman lives in Jupiter. Murphy invited local media to observe him this morning.

"I'm proud to cast my vote in Florida's primary election and grateful for the grassroots support our campaign has received from across the state," Murphy said in a statement afterward.

Early voting began in 24 counties last week and in all other counties this week. It ends this weekend.

Polls have shown Murphy leading the Democratic field in Tuesday's primary. He faces U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando and Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith. Former assistant U.S. attorney Reginald Luster of Jacksonville and California real estate developer "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente of Orlando are also on the Democratic ballot.

Both Murphy and Grayson are keeping relatively low profiles this week, with a handful of appearances announced by each. Keith has embarked on a statewide tour to meet with voters in the final week before the primary.

Photo credit: Patrick Murphy talks to Palm Beach County media on Wednesday after voting early for the Aug. 30 primary. (Murphy U.S. Senate campaign.)

Rubio campaigns in Fort Myers, Beruff in Miami



U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio turns his attention to Southwest Florida today. Rubio, 6-days from the GOP primary, is scheduled to meet with grassroots activists at the Republican Party of Florida's victory office in Fort Myers at noon.

Meanwhile, his GOP rival Carlos Beruff heads to Miami today, where he is scheduled to do interviews on television and radio interviews.

A Gables fundraiser for Rubio, five days before the primary


Five days ahead of Florida's U.S. Senate primary, incumbent Republican Marco Rubio will be in Coral Gables -- raising money for the next phase of the election.

A phalanx of top, longtime Rubio donors will host the senator at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Riviera Country Club, according to an invitation host Bernie Navarro published on Twitter. The minimum contribution is $2,700, with $10,800 required to co-host the event.

Rubio is so confident he'll defeat primary rival Carlos Beruff next Tuesday that he's hardly campaigning in public this week. The fundraiser is another sign that the senator is mostly focused on the Nov. 8 general election, when he's likely to face off against Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.

Recent polls show Rubio leading Murphy, but the potential race has gotten tighter, as expected, and the Florida electorate during presidential years leans Democratic.

Goat-blood-drinking candidate considers himself friend of white supremacists



Augustus Sol Invictus, who once drank the blood of a freshly killed goat, is not your typical U.S. Senate candidate.

The fiery Libertarian once wrote a paper praising eugenics, is frequently blocked from Facebook for mocking his primary opponent and refuses to disclose his given name at birth.

Invictus, 33, an Orlando attorney who freely describes himself as “the most dangerous Libertarian in America,” came to South Florida on Tuesday evening to speak in front of 15 Miami-Dade party members at John Martin’s Irish Pub in Coral Gables. (He takes his name from the Latin for “Majestic Unconquered Sun,” a cult religion of the Roman Empire.)

The event was not your usual political fare.

Clad in a gray vest with slicked hair, Invictus calmly answered questions like: “Are you friends with white supremacists?” (Answer: Yes) “Would you disavow an endorsement from a white supremacist group?” (Possibly) “Would you accept campaign contributions from white supremacists? (From individuals, yes).

It took less than 10 seconds for the goat incident to come up, after forum moderator Pierre Alexandre Crevaux asked Invictus how the campaign was going.

“It’s brutal, soaked in blood,” Invictus said.

“Goat’s blood?” an audience member asked.

“Zing,” said Invictus, who drank goat’s blood in celebration at the end of a walk from Orlando to the Mojave Desert in 2013.

The intriguing storylines of Miami-Dade's judicial races

via @DavidOvalle305

One judicial candidate is suing his opponent over her ownership in Miami erotic motels. A prospective judge has a résumé that includes being suspended from practicing law for three years. One incumbent judge is fighting for his seat against a former Florida House representative.

Though Florida judicial elections feature normally dry campaigns, next week’s races in Miami-Dade nevertheless offer some tantalizing story lines.

In all, 10 seats — six in Miami-Dade circuit court, four in county court — are up for grabs in the Aug. 30 election. Another 18 judges earned reelection in May when no one chose to run against them.

In Florida, candidates are limited in how they campaign. They can’t make promises other than to be fair and impartial, can’t commit to positions about the law and can’t personally solicit donations.

But allegations laid out in a lawsuit have elevated the interest in the race of incumbent circuit judge Jason Bloch, who earlier this month sued his opponent, Marcia del Rey, saying discrepancies in financial disclosures and credentials should bar her from being on the ballot.

More here.

Key Florida Senate leader drops $150K into Frank Artiles effort to win Democrat-leaning seat



Democrats in Florida have been fired up heading into the fall at the prospects of picking up seats in the Florida Senate and chipping away at the Republican’s 26-14 majority. But one key Republican is betting big that the GOP is in position to be the one’s flipping at least one seat that is currently in Democratic hands.

New campaign finance reporting shows Florida Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano used a political action committee he controls called Innovate Florida to drop $150,000 into Miami’s Senate District 40, where Republican Frank Artiles is hoping to knock out whoever emerges from an increasingly nasty Democratic primary race there.

Galvano’s donation went to a political committee controlled by Artiles called Veterans for Common Sense Principles. It’s the single largest donation Artiles has collected by far and nearly doubles what that committee had raised over the last four months.

“That is a very winnable seat,” Galvano said in explaining the largest single donation Innovate Florida has made this year.

Galvano said Artiles is working hard and has a real shot to win the seat.

Despite Galvano’s optimism, newly redistricted maps show Democrats have an advantage in that district. In 2012, President Barack Obama won the area that is in the new Senate District 40 by 9 percentage points. Incument Sen. Dwight Bullard is one of three Democrats on the ballot in the Aug. 30 primary.

Clinton pitches public-health fund for Zika, other outbreaks

Campaign 2016 Clinton


In response to Miami’s rash of Zika infections, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday will propose the creation of a public-health fund with money available year-round to quickly respond to disease outbreaks.

The Democratic presidential candidate cited congressional inaction on Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that has spread in South Florida during lawmakers’ seven-week summer recess. Legislators left Washington in mid-July after having failed to pass President Barack Obama’s emergency-funding request to fight Zika — and won’t return until after Labor Day.

“Uncertain long-term budgets leave our public health agencies dependent on emergency appropriations — meaning that when Congress fails to step up, communities are left without the resources they need, vaccines languish in development, and more people get sick,” Clinton said in a statement that in addition to Zika referred to the Ebola virus and other diseases and public-health threats.

Clinton’s proposed “Public Health Rapid Response Fund” would be aimed at providing financial relief to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health and Human Services Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state and local public health departments and hospitals.

Clinton did not specify where money for such a fund would come from, or how much would be in it — other than she’d like for it to have “consistent, year-to-year budgets.”

More here.

Photo credit: Andrew Harnik, Associated Press