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June 21, 2016

Clinton leads Trump 47-39 in new Q poll in Florida

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump 47-39 in Florida in a new Quinnipiac poll released this morning.

That's the largest lead Clinton has in three key swing states. They are in a dead heat in Ohio 40-40 and Clinton leads Trump in Pennsylvania 42-40.

This is also the largest lead Clinton has had in Florida since the Q poll asked voters about a Clinton-Trump match-up in August 2015 -- the only time that Trump was ahead of Clinton. In October, Clinton was ahead five points and in May she was ahead by one point.

The poll found that 58 percent of Florida voters found Trump's comments about the judge of Mexican descent racist -- and the margins were similar in Ohio and Pennsylvania. When broken down by party in Florida, 29 percent of Republican voters felt Trump's comments were racist as did 90 percent of Democratic voters.

By wide margins, voters in each state say Clinton is better prepared than Trump to be president; that she is more intelligent than Trump and that she has higher moral standards, according to the poll.

However, voters are divided on whether Trump is more honest and trustworthy than Clinton and voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania find him more inspiring.

Florida voters give Clinton and Trump negative favorability ratings: 39 - 53 percent for her and 33 - 61 percent for him. Independents favor Clinton 44-35.

"Of the three swing states, Florida has the largest number of electoral votes. In fact, it has the most of any of the roughly dozen states around the country considered to be in play. It is Hillary Clinton's best state and perhaps Donald Trump's toughest lift. One reason might be Florida has a larger Hispanic population than the other two states, and Trump has clashed with Hispanic leaders over some of his remarks," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the poll.

The poll of 975 Florida voters was conducted June 8-19 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent. Surveys were conducted on land and cell lines and in English and Spanish.

June 20, 2016

Alan Grayson, Patrick Murphy criticize Marco Rubio's gun votes

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio's potential Democratic rivals sharply criticized his votes on gun measures today.

"Marco Rubio may find personal, political opportunities in this horrible tragedy, but his disturbing Senate votes today show that this gruesome act of violence did not give him the courage to take on the gun lobby," said Rep. Alan Grayson.

"After the devastating attack in Orlando, Floridians are crying out for commonsense reforms to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists," said Rep. Patrick Murphy. "Tonight, Marco Rubio put his political ambition ahead of keeping Floridians safe."

The rapid response is a sign of how Democrats will seek to use the issue in the general election.

Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson voted on party lines on gun votes

Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio voted on party lines this evening on four gun bills that surfaced after the Orlando massacre. All four bills died.

“What am I going to tell 49 grieving families? What am I going to tell the families of those that are still in the hospital fighting for their lives?' Nelson said at a news conference after the votes. 'What am I going to tell the trauma surgeon whose blood-stained shoes have been shown in a picture on so many news programs and who said he didn’t know, in the midst of the screams and the cries, if they were black or white, or gay or straight, as they brought in over 40, all at one time, into that trauma operating room?  What am I going to tell the community of Orlando that is trying to come together in the healing?  Sadly, what I am going to have to tell them is that the NRA won again.”

Rubio issued a long explanation for his votes. “At the end of the day, we know that law-abiding Americans will abide by whatever laws are passed affecting their Second Amendments rights, and that criminals and terrorists will keep ignoring these laws. Senators Cornyn and Grassley have struck the proper balance between addressing gaps in the law that could be exploited by terrorists while taking care not to place new burdens on lawful gun owners who simply want to protect themselves and their families. We know that the impetus for today’s votes was the Orlando terrorist attack. We can’t say for sure if anything in our laws would have stopped this maniac from carrying out some form of attack, but I know that the proposals I supported today would specifically fill gaps that are evident after this attack and protect people who may one day find themselves needing firearms to protect themselves. The Democrat proposals are politically-motivated and driven by a larger ideological agenda to disarm Americans.”

Democratic measures:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposal to allow the attorney general to deny firearms and explosives to suspected terrorists.

Nelson voted yes; Rubio voted no.

Sens. Chris Murphy, Cory Booker and Chuck Schumer plan to expand backgroud checks, including at a gun show.

Nelson voted yes; Rubio voted no.

Republican measures

> Sen, John Cornyn's plan to delay the sale of guns to terrorism suspect for three days or longer.

Nelson voted no; Rubio voted yes.

> Sen. Charles Grassley's plan to increase funding for background checks but not to expand them.

Nelson voted no; Rubio voted yes.

Full Rubio statement:

“I supported Senator Cornyn’s bipartisan proposal, because in the case of the Orlando terrorist, it would have left him on the national background check system for five years and triggered additional review when he attempted to purchase a gun. This reasonable proposal would protect law-abiding Americans by ensuring that their Second Amendment rights are not denied unless terrorism suspicions are adjudicated by a court, following actual notice and a hearing. After all, the standard for denying someone any constitutional right must be a high one; it cannot be ‘because the federal government says so.’

“I opposed Senator Feinstein’s proposal because it would not prevent terrorist attacks, but it would deny thousands of law-abiding Americans their constitutionally protected right to bear arms without any due process. Our terror watch lists are a mess that need to be fixed. We know there are thousands of innocent Americans who have been put on these lists without any justification, and getting their names cleared can be an arduous process. That is a fundamental violation of our constitutionally protected Second Amendment rights. Of course, no one supports terrorists getting any weapons, but we must also make sure that law-abiding Americans can own firearms to protect themselves.

“I opposed Senator Murphy’s proposal because it places too many burdens on law-abiding Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights, specifically as it relates to the transfer of firearms between friends and neighbors, and could criminalize many routine activities that occur between gun owners. This proposal places all the burdens on law-abiding Americans, who will grudgingly comply with everything, while criminals and terrorists ignore them. I instead supported Senator Grassley’s proposal, which makes improvements to the national background check system without infringing on the rights of honest, law-abiding Americans.

“The Orlando terrorist attack has left a major void in the hearts of all the impacted families, their friends and others like me who have been deeply moved by what we’ve learned over the last eight days about the 49 people who were killed. These were young people in the primes of their lives, sons and daughters, taken too soon. This terrorist attack reminds us of the high stakes in this war on terror and how we cannot continue to allow radical Islamic terror groups to plan and train for attacks against the United States and our allies abroad, or allow their efforts to inspire homegrown terrorist acts like this.  Even as we fight terrorists overseas and strengthen our abilities to prevent homegrown extremism, we cannot undermine the American people’s Second Amendment rights to protect themselves and their families.

“At the end of the day, we know that law-abiding Americans will abide by whatever laws are passed affecting their Second Amendments rights, and that criminals and terrorists will keep ignoring these laws. Senators Cornyn and Grassley have struck the proper balance between addressing gaps in the law that could be exploited by terrorists while taking care not to place new burdens on lawful gun owners who simply want to protect themselves and their families. We know that the impetus for today’s votes was the Orlando terrorist attack. We can’t say for sure if anything in our laws would have stopped this maniac from carrying out some form of attack, but I know that the proposals I supported today would specifically fill gaps that are evident after this attack and protect people who may one day find themselves needing firearms to protect themselves. The Democrat proposals are politically-motivated and driven by a larger ideological agenda to disarm Americans.”

Senator Cornyn amendment #4742:

·         This amendment provides law enforcement with appropriate tools to investigate and detain terrorists while preventing them from obtaining firearms and also protecting fundamental due process rights. After taking appropriate steps to confirm the identity of the prospective transferee and confirm or rule out their connection to terrorism, federal prosecutors will have the needed authority to arrest and detain terrorists immediately.

Senator Grassley amendment #4751:

·         This amendment addresses gun violence by improving federal and state law enforcement’s ability to share and access records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Additionally, the amendment provides better protections from gun violence by addressing mental illness in the criminal justice system and strengthening laws against trafficking of illegal firearms.

-- Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times

New U.S. Senate candidate didn't register as Democrat in Florida until this afternoon


Rocky Image 2Former presidential hopeful and newly qualified Democratic U.S. Senate candidate "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente was not a registered Democrat in Florida until this afternoon after the Herald/Times inquired about the status of his voter registration.

Records show De La Fuente registered as a "no party affiliation" voter on March 28, after he moved to Orlando from his hometown of San Diego, Calif. That was his current status as of 2:57 p.m. today, according to an email from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections' office.

As the Herald/Times then made inquiries to De La Fuente's campaign and the San Diego County (Calif.) Registrar of Voters, De La Fuente went to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections' office and changed his affiliation to the Florida Democratic Party.

His amended voter application is time-stamped as received by the office at 3:43 p.m.

But De La Fuente told the Herald/Times in an interview shortly after that that he had corrected his voter registration this morning.

Continue reading "New U.S. Senate candidate didn't register as Democrat in Florida until this afternoon" »

Joe Garcia forgoes TV ads, for now, in Miami Congressional race


Former Congressman Joe Garcia isn't hitting the airwaves anytime soon. The Democrat, who is running for his old 26th District seat in South Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys, is focused on saving funds for a potential general election matchup with Republican Carlos Curbelo.

"At some point we may look at doing television advertising," Garcia said. "Last time, the Koch Brothers and company spent almost $7 million attacking me and I have no doubt they will be back again."

The 26th District race promises to be one of the most expensive in the country, and Garcia appears to be saving resources instead of spending on his primary campaign with Annette Taddeo. The district was redrawn prior to this year's election and is seen as a prime pickup target for House Democrats.

"This is a district that's been redesigned on three separate occasions to try to keep me from winning," Garcia said.

Garcia represented the district for one term before losing to Curbelo.

Taddeo trails in the polls and must build her name recognition with voters before the August 30th primary. She has endorsements from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, EMILY's List and the AFL-CIO.

"If Washington knew how to win elections we would have a Congress that's Democratic," Garcia said in response to the DCCC's endorsement of Taddeo. "While it's very nice to be running for Congress for a year and a half, it's not my polls that say I'm winning."

Garcia chose not to highlight any policy differences with Taddeo, who recently touted her progressive stance on the Cuban embargo.

"I understand she wants to create a distinction and I'm sure I could too but its not worth it," Garcia said.

Garcia pointed out his long-term friendship between himself and Taddeo, stating that he attended fundraisers at Taddeo's house and that they have endorsed each other in previous elections before this year's primary.  

He saved his sharpest criticism for Curbelo.

"Mr. Curbelo opposed DACA and now he is for it, or at least not going to oppose it," Garcia said. "This is a guy who opposes Obamacare and voted to shut it down on every single occasion, yet his district is one of the ones that has benefited the most in the country with healthcare."

Republican, Democratic fields take shape for Florida U.S. Senate race


@ByKristenMClark & @MichaelAuslen

Three main contenders for Florida's U.S. Senate seat have officially secured their positions on the party ballots, and a couple newcomers also staked a claim in the race as the qualifying period for Florida's August primary elections began today.

Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republicans Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox all pre-filed their paperwork -- along with a $10,440 check -- earlier this month to qualify for the ballot.

Several other candidates actively campaigning have yet to file -- including several Republicans, and Democrats Alan Grayson and Pam Keith. They have until noon Friday to do so.

The Republican field remains largely in limbo, as uncertainty swirls about whether Sen. Marco Rubio will seek re-election despite promising during his presidential campaign that he would leave the Senate if he lost the March presidential primary.

Rubio has signaled for several weeks a growing change of heart and said last week, in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, that he was re-considering his pledge to become a private citizen again in 2017. He had said he would take this past weekend to consider his options.

Until he announces his plans, other Republican candidates appear to be biding their time. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, had not filed to qualify, as of this afternoon.

Lopez-Cantera, a close friend of Rubio, said he will step aside if the senator runs again. DeSantis has hinted that he also may leave the race if Rubio runs. U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, announced Friday that he will seek re-election to his congressional seat, rather than continuing his Senate campaign.

Meanwhile, the Democratic field grew more crowded with two previously unknown contenders qualifying: Jacksonville attorney Reginald Luster and real estate developer "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente, who still has an active presidential campaign based in San Diego.

Continue reading "Republican, Democratic fields take shape for Florida U.S. Senate race" »

Beruff digs into campaign as Rubio decision looms

While the rest of the Republican Party braces for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's potential re-entry in the Senate race, Republican Carlos Beruff is putting more money into television ads, still touring the state, and taking a few swipes at Rubio.

Beruff's campaign has already said they won't back out of the race if Rubio gets in. Now, to prove that point his campaign has put another $300,000 into TV advertising over the next two weeks, planning campaign stops in Panama City later this week, and his campaign put out a statement warning that they will question Rubio's commitment to being in the Senate if he changes his mind and does seek re-election.

Chris Hartline, campaign spokesman for Beruff, in a statement said they will frame the race as Beruff, a guy with real world experience, versus Rubio, a "career politician."

"The most important question for Marco Rubio to think about today as he decides whether to run for reelection: Are you willing to look the voters of Florida in the eye and commit to serving out an entire 6-year term in the U.S. Senate? Do you commit to not running for President in 2020? Do you pledge to truly serve the people of Florida by showing up to work and not missing votes or committee hearings," Hartline said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, has already dropped out of the Senate race, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is likely to follow suit if Rubio jumps into the race. But Beruff and Todd Wilcox have both said they are ready to battle Rubio for the Republican nomination. During a campaign stop in Tallahassee last week, Wilcox noted that Rubio lost 66 of 67 counties to Donald Trump in the presidential primary, giving him confidence that Rubio is no lock to win a primary if he does run.

Rubio has to decide this week if he will run for the Senate again. The deadline to qualify for the contest in Friday at noon.

For most of the year, Rubio said he planned to become a private citizen at the end of his current term. But last week, Rubio left open the possibility of running again after noting the shootings in Orlando had given him "pause" to think about how he could best serve.

Rubio has been under pressure from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other national Republicans for weeks to run for re-election because he is seen as the best chance to retain the seat for Republicans. If Hillary Clinton wins the White House, Democrats need to win four seats currently held by Republicans to retake the majority. Florida, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Illinois are key targets for Democrats.

It's a 'Rocky' start as Florida candidates climb aboard the ballot

Florida's week-long candidate qualifying period opened Monday with a "Rocky" start -- literally -- as candidates for hundreds of federal, state and county offices get on the ballot.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Democrat "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente ponied up a check for $10,440 to run for U.S. Senate. De La Fuente, who has been running a shoestring campaign for president, likely would be the fourth name on the Democratic primary ballot, joining U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy and Pam Keith. De La Fuente got the Dave Barry treatment ("a loon with four buses in Iowa!") in The Miami Herald as he sought votes in that state's caucuses in January.

The first candidate in line when the qualifying window opened was Alex Barrio, a Democrat seeking an Orlando House seat being vacated by Rep. Victor Torres' move to seek an open Senate seat.

"A lot of people will consider jumping in or jumping out," said Barrio, who has served brief stints as a legislative aide and in the Senate Democratic Office. He asked reporters: "Can you remember an election that's this volatile?"

FullSizeRender (1)Heath Rassner, 29, of Kendall, an FIU student at left, arrived wearing a wool cap and filed papers to run as a Democrat for the District 119 House seat in southwest Miami-Dade, a Republican district represented by Rep. Jeannette Nunez. Rassner said his enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy prompted him to run for office himself, and the political novice showed candor seen too rarely among politicians.

Asked if he believes he can win, Rassner said: "No. But it's worth a shot."

PolitiFact: Can workers be fired for being gay in Florida?

As the motive behind the deadly Jun 12 shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando was still being debated, singer Clay Aiken took to Twitter to characterize it as a hate crime and report that gays can be summarily fired in Florida simply because of their sexual orientation.

"A gay man who survived #orlando hate crime can STILL show up to work in FL tomorrow and have his boss fire him simply because he is gay," Aiken tweeted.

For this fact check, we will look at whether Florida really offers no job protection to gays and lesbians.

The short answer: Aiken is mostly correct when it comes to Florida as a whole, but he's wrong to suggest that there is no protection anywhere in the state.

Federal law does not protect the employment rights of the LGBT community, nor does the state of Florida.

However, thanks to city and county law, members of the LGBT community do have employment protection in some areas of Florida.

Keep reading from C. Eugene Emery, Jr. of PolitiFact Florida.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen gets AFL-CIO endorsement

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, has been endorsed by the South Florida AFL-CIO and the United Teachers of Dade.

Ros-Lehtinen's district was redrawn and is now slightly Democratic but she is still considered a safe incumbent as a social liberal who has been in Congress since 1989. She is expected to draw a Democratic challenger: Scott Furhman, a political newcomer who has national Democratic backing.

Ros-Lehtinen represents District 27 which stretches from North Bay Village to Cutler Bay.