May 27, 2016

In this age of political disruption, is the party as we know it over?

Political parties KRT Tim GoheenThis summer may be remembered not only for a blue moon and the welcome end to a bitter presidential primary, it may also mark the time America’s century-old political parties went on life support.

At the top of the ticket, both the Florida Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Florida have anointed presidential frontrunners who are seen by most voters more negatively than positively. Corporate donors, the bread and butter of the party diet, are circumventing the parties in large numbers by contributing directly to candidates’ committees.

 

In Florida, the often-reliable bellwether for the nation, party membership is steadily eroding as the majority of new voters don’t register with any party and fewer new voters are registering than have in previous presidential years.

Then there are the casualties.

Florida Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the head of the Democratic National Committee, has beentargeted for defeat from within by Bernie Sanders, the 74-year-old Vermont senator who is the overwhelming favorite of the youth vote. Jeb Bush, Florida GOP’s favorite son, is so disgusted by Donald Trump and his message he has announced he won’t vote for his party’s nominee. And GOP candidates in Hispanic-rich South Florida are keeping their distance from the frontrunner.

With a battleground this bloodied, can political parties be saved?

It’s an uncomfortable question that could have serious implications for future statewide candidates like Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Congresswoman Gwen Graham. Each hopes to run for governor in 2018 relying on a durable, traditional, governing coalition.

But 2016 laid waste to durable traditions as Florida and the nation showed that its allegiance to political parties was over.

“I think we’ve got 20 more years of disruption ahead of us,” predicts Steve Schale, the Democratic consultant to who steered Obama’s victory in Florida in 2008. “You’ve got a generation of people who are growing up in a time when traditional organizations are not vital to the world. We have to figure out what do we look like in the next 20 years, and do we even exist?” 

The numbers tell just part of the story. Of the 2.1 million new registered voters in Florida since 2012, 28 percent have registered Republican, 31 percent Democrat and 42 percent registered anything else, according to data analyzed by Associated Industries of Florida.

David Johnson, former executive director of the Republican Party who worked on Bush’s Right to Rise political committee this election cycle, is among those who say his party has reached an existential crisis.

“The Republican Party is torn apart,” he said, and how it handles Trump’s divisive campaign will be the crucial test. “There is no question in my mind there is a path toward a viable third or fourth party in the future.” More here

Illustration: Tim Goheen, KRT

 

May 26, 2016

Florida GOP to Donald Trump: Congrats on reaching 1,237

@PatriciaMazzei

From Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia:

The Republican Party of Florida would like to congratulate Donald Trump on surpassing the required number of delegates to clinch the Republican nomination for president. Throughout this primary Mr. Trump has generated a historic voter turnout and built an unstoppable momentum that dwarfs the efforts of the Democrats – a testament to voters’ eagerness for a new leader that will not promote the same failed policies of the last eight years.

May 15, 2016

Florida Republicans pick remaining convention delegates

via @adamsmithtimes

In the end, everybody wound up reasonably happy over the Republican National Convention delegates selected Saturday by the state GOP's executive board. Behind the scenes, however, there was a fair amount of tension and brewing animosity in recent days when it seemed Florida GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia was poised to recommend a slate of delegates that largely ignored the wishes of the Donald Trump campaign.

"We were a little bit nervous going into the meeting today, but Blaise stepped up in a big way," Joe Gruters, co-chairman of the Trump campaign in Florida, said, after the state party's executive board elected 15 delegates and 15 alternates to the national convention. They were:

Continue reading "Florida Republicans pick remaining convention delegates" »

May 10, 2016

Payday lenders have given millions to Florida politicians

Payday lenders have donated about $2.5 million to Florida politicians and and both political parties in recent years, according to a new analysis by a liberal group.

Allied Progress has drawn attention to the issue of payday lending in Florida by attacking U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic national committee chair, and other politicians who have taken money from the industry.

The group gave the Miami Herald an advanced copy of its new report, “A Florida Plan: How Payday lenders bought Florida’s political establishment.” The report lists donations given to federal and state candidates as well as the state’s Republican and Democratic parties since 2009.

Overall, Republicans received $1.6 million and Democrats received about $890,000, while $29,000 went to independents. But the top individual recipients were South Florida Democrats.

Keep reading from the Miami Herald.



May 03, 2016

Florida GOP to pick final presidential convention delegates

@PatriciaMazzei

The Republican Party of Florida will select the remaining 15 of its 99 presidential nominating delegates next week in Tampa.

Party honchos will meet May 13-14 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Tampa for their quarterly meeting. At 12:30 p.m. May 14, a Saturday, the RPOF executive board will name its delegates, who will join the ones picked in recent weeks for each congressional district by Republican Executive Committees in each Florida county. That process drew ire from supporters of front-runner Donald Trump, who said they were left out of many of the slots, particularly in South Florida.

The sort of delegates picked at the RPOF level are people like state Rep. José Oliva of Miami Lakes, a likely future speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

Here's the meeting's public schedule:

Continue reading "Florida GOP to pick final presidential convention delegates " »

May 02, 2016

Starbucks heckler vs Rick Scott led PolitiFact Florida in April 2016

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When Gov. Rick Scott walked into a Starbucks in Gainesville, he got an unexpected jolt when a customer attacked his record on spending for health care and Planned Parenthood.

Scott fired back by defending his jobs record.

The exchange, in which heckler Cara Jennings called Scott an "a------" drew more than 2.3 million hits on YouTube, made national news and led our fact-checks in April.

Other statements that drew in readers were by Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, who is running for U.S. Senate; and Democratic presidential candidate.

Here’s a look at PolitiFact Florida’s most clicked fact-checks in April counting down to the most popular.

 

April 20, 2016

Donald Trump's manager Corey Lewandowski botches claim on Florida delegates

CoreyTrumpReuters

Donald Trump’s campaign has been crying foul over the delegate selection in Florida, accusing Republican party insiders of stacking the deck against Trump.

In Miami-Dade County, home of former presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, few of the 15 delegates chosen April 16 appeared to be overt Trump fans.

The next day, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski accused Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, of bias against Trump.

"The chairman of the party of Florida, who is an avid and outward supporter of Marco Rubio, gets to appoint 30 of those delegates," Lewandowski said April 17. "Now, I understand those are the rules, but Donald Trump won. And now, you’ve got a person who is supporting Marco Rubio who gets to appoint 30 of the 99 delegates. That’s not what the rules should be."

We will explain how Lewandowski got his facts wrong about the delegate selection and Ingoglia. We did not get a response from the Trump campaign for this fact-check.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

April 18, 2016

Donald Trump wrongly blames Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush for Florida's winner-take-all primary

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Donald Trump has been on a tear accusing the Republican establishment of rigging the system to hurt him, despite the fact that he leads the delegate count in the primaries.

One of the states where leaders are out to get him is Florida, he says. The state’s March 15 primary was "winner-take-all," which means all of the delegates went to one winner, who ended up being Trump.

"You speak about what’s unfair, so in Florida you had 99 delegates," he said in aspeech in Rome, N.Y. "And Jeb Bush had it set -- Jeb Bush or Rubio, both of them. They had it set so that the winner takes everything, because they wanted to make sure that I didn't get anything."

Did Bush and Rubio set the Florida primary for winner-take-all because they wanted to prevent Trump from getting any delegates?

Republican officials did hope a winner-take-all primary would benefit Bush or Rubio, but Trump gets some of his key facts wrong. Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Photo by the Associated Press.

April 13, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott to speak at RNC meeting in Broward

Politifact-photos-rickscott

Gov. Rick Scott will speak at the Republican National Committee in Broward County next week.

The RNC will hold it's spring meeting at the swanky oceanside Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood starting Wednesday. The RNC has not yet released a schedule of events but several Florida politicians are expected to attend the event including Republican Party of Florida chairman State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia. Scott's political consultant Melissa Sellers confirmed that Scott will speak. 

The RNC committees could discuss rules related to the July presidential convention in Cleveland -- the first potentially brokered convention in decades. 

Republicans will be meeting in the county with the highest number of registered Democratic voters in the state: Broward has about 560,000 registered Democrats.

March 15, 2016

Marco Rubio on whether Florida’s winner-take-all primary was a good idea after all

Rub12 MRubio New PPP

@PatriciaMazzei

As a state lawmaker, Marco Rubio advocated for Florida’s primary to take place early in the presidential-campaign calendar, to give voters in his big, diverse state the kind of importance now awarded to places like South Carolina and Nevada.

But facing the prospect of one or two Floridians running for the White House, the state GOP and its legislators chose to push the 2016 primary to March 15, the first day Florida could award all 99 of its Republican delegates to a single winner. No better way to help the hometown guy, be it Rubio or Jeb Bush.

Now that primary day is here, things look far different. Bush’s campaign is long over. And Florida’s winner-take-all position could wipe out Rubio’s remaining chances if front-runner Donald Trump wins the state’s political prize.

But Rubio told the Miami Herald he’s at peace with the decision Florida’s GOP leaders made.

“The purpose of moving the primary earlier was, the way presidential elections were being decided in the past was in those first few weeks, and by the time it got to Florida in March, it didn’t matter anymore,” Rubio said in an interview Monday. “Obviously in this race it turns out that it matters, and it matters a lot. So I think from Florida’s perspective, it’s meaningful this year as it’s ever been.”

Wouldn’t a proportional race earlier on have helped him more?

“Well, I mean, hindsight’s 20/20,” the Florida senator said. “But had it been earlier, it would have had eight people running here instead of four, and you would have just seen more votes being divided up between Donald Trump and the people that don’t want Donald Trump. And the people that don’t want Donald Trump would have been divided up among seven people instead of three. So I’m not sure it would’ve worked any differently.”

What about fewer weeks of early voting in person and by mail – would that have benefited Rubio?

“The only difference between this and the general [election] is that if you vote early, you may very well be voting for someone who isn’t even in the race by the time you vote,” Rubio said. “And obviously in Florida that’s the case. But the flip side of it is you want to make it as easy as possible for people to vote. And, you know, my guess is when they finally make up their minds.”

“So I’m not sure that would have had an impact. I mean, obviously, you know, Jeb [Bush] is going to have votes in tomorrow, because he was on the ballot, and he was still in the race when the ballot went out. How many, I don’t know. We’ll find out.”

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, el Nuevo Herald