January 04, 2016

GOP faction defends Miami-Dade vice-chair who drew party ire for publicly endorsing Ted Cruz

@PatriciaMazzei

The Miami-Dade County Republican Party official embroiled in an internecine feud over his endorsement of Ted Cruz for president is gearing up to fight his colleagues' push to oust him from his position.

Manny Roman, the party's vice-chairman, has drawn the support of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida, a libertarian-leaning group within the state party. Liberty Caucus Chairman Bob White said in a statement late Sunday that he wrote Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia urging him to put an end to a planned Miami-Dade vote Thursday to remove Roman from his post for publicly taking sides in the GOP presidential primary.

"The charge is that the vice chairman violated a rule that party leaders must remain neutral in primaries," White wrote. "We both know there is no such rule; certainly not an RPOF rule and I understand there is no Dade county rule either."

RPOF spokesman Wadi Gaitan did not comment.

Roman wrote in a letter to the Miami Herald editor last month that he would back Cruz, the Texas senator, over local favorites Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Angry local Republicans swiftly moved to schedule a vote against Roman, citing a loyalty oath required from party members that prohibits officers from endorsing one Republican over another.

That hasn't stopped party executive committee members across the state from getting involved in GOP presidential campaigns. White noted Donald Trump's Florida campaign chairman Joe Grueters also heads the Sarasota County GOP. Roman pointed out that Miami-Dade GOP recording secretary Corey Breier is one of Rubio's Miami-Dade campaign chairmen.

Continue reading "GOP faction defends Miami-Dade vice-chair who drew party ire for publicly endorsing Ted Cruz" »

Florida GOP plagued by money woes

via @adamsmithtimes

It's a constant source of tension in political parties: grassroots foot soldiers hostile to anything that smacks of top-down decision-making versus the elected officials/consultants/and party establishment.

A year ago, the Republican Party of Florida's grassroots members in a rare rebuff of the normally dominant GOP establishment, snubbed Gov. Rick Scott by electing as state party chairman Blaise Ingoglia, a Republican state representative from Hernando County, rather than Scott's candidate, Leslie Dougher of northeast Florida. The state party's rank and file showed who is boss of the Florida GOP.

And now they're starting to see the consequences.

Strapped for cash since Gov. Scott stopped raising any money for the party, it has laid off its well-regarded Chief Financial Officer, Richard Swarttz, after 12 years. The party simply can no longer afford a six-figure CFO position.

Swarttz's departure comes just as the party's executive director, Brad Herold, announced he's jumping ship to lead the Ron DeSantis U.S. Senate campaign. He is to be replaced by the well-liked director of party development, George Riley, who won't see a salary increase despite a big increase in responsibilities.

Continue reading "Florida GOP plagued by money woes" »

December 10, 2015

Florida GOP mum on Donald Trump's Muslim plan

via @adamsmithtimes

Gov. Rick Scott has declined take a position, pro or con, on Donald Trump's controversial proposal to halt temporarily Muslims coming to America. Here's the statement we received from his spokeswoman, Jackie Schutz:

“Governor Scott continues his focus on getting more information from President Obama about the Syrian refugees being placed in Florida by the federal government to ensure the safety of all those in our state.  He has not made an endorsement in the Presidential race and is focused on the security of Floridians from those who may wish us harm."

Florida GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia this week also has declined multiple requests for comment on the proposal, although state GOP Chairs in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Ohio have criticized it.

Several recent polls have found that Republicans are either evenly divided on the proposal or mostly in favor of it.

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

December 01, 2015

Jeb Bush to fundraise for Florida GOP

12012015_115559_121115_tampa_fundraiser_page_1_8colvia @adamsmithtimes

You might think Jeb Bush has enough on his own plate, but Florida's former governor and struggling presidential candidate is stepping up to raise money for the Florida GOP.  That's more than even current Gov. Rick Scott is doing for his state party these days, as Scott  is raising money only for his own political committee.

Bush will attend a Republican Party of Florida fundraising reception in Tampa Dec. 11 - helping state party Chairman Blaise Ingoglia raise money to help the GOP in America's biggest battleground. Polls right now suggest the Florida GOP is more likely to be working to deliver 27 electoral votes to Donald Trump or Marco Rubio than Bush.

Keep in mind that Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran is currentlly the only top elected official in Florida helping raise money for the state GOP, and Corcoran is a Bush supporter, even though he had been Rubio's top adviser in the legislature.

"Jeb has always supported the RPOF," Bush campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said. "The Chairman asked the Governor a little while back to help raise funds for the party and he is glad to. A strong party infrastructure Florida is critical to Republicans’ success in 2016."

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

November 18, 2015

Florida GOP will submit documents by Nov. 30 qualifying presidential candidates for primary

@PatriciaMazzei

One by one, the Republican presidential candidates who attended the Florida GOP's Sunshine Summit last week signed a piece of paper asking to be on the state's March 15 primary ballot.

That was the summit's biggest allure, after all: To qualify for the Florida ballot, the Republican Party of Florida required candidates to either attend the Orlando summit and sign the party oath -- or pay a $25,000 fee, or amass 3,375 voter petitions.

All but one of the candidates still in the race at the time (former New York Gov. George Pataki) spoke at the summit, and all signed the oath. (Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has since dropped out.)

Donald Trump's campaign tweeted about it. 

Marco Rubio bragged he had been the first to file the paperwork -- because he was the summit's first speaker. And Ben Carson claimed Wednesday that he had "submitted" the document.

None of the oaths, though, have made it to the Florida Division of Elections yet. The party will turn them over to the state by Nov. 30, RPOF spokesman Wadi Gaitan said.

November 14, 2015

In Sunshine Summit speech, Rand Paul hits Marco Rubio on immigration

via @learyreports

ORLANDO -- Sen. Rand Paul used his Sunshine Summit speech to go after Marco Rubio on immigration, accusing the Floridian of teaming in "secret" with Chuck Schumer to block amendments to the 2013 legislation.

"Your senator in fact opposed me," Paul said of a border security amendment.

Paul repeated the charge during a news conference in which he signed paperwork to get on Florida's March 15 primary ballot.

"I have no idea what Senator Paul is talking about," Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said. "It would appear Senator Paul is trying to change the subject away from his dangerous isolationist agenda and proposals to cut defense spending."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

November 13, 2015

Sunshine Summit: Ben Carson

via @learyreports

ORLANDO -- Ben Carson closed out the first day of the Sunshine Summit is typical low-key fashion.

But he got one of the biggest applause lines with an attack on Barack Obama that suggested the president has tried to “destroy” the country by driving wedges such as the “war on women,” increasing the debt and overseeing a scaled back military.

"Now any semblance to what’s going on now is purely coincidental,” Carson said to a standing ovation.

Other highlights:

AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM: “Have you ever noticed there is such a thing as an American Dream? There’s not a Portuguese dream. Or a Swedish dream. There’s only an American Dream and there’s something incredibly special about our nation … and that’s why I’m in no hurry to give anything away for political correctness."

MOMMA'S BOY: “I was a terrible student. Everybody called me the dummy. But my mother was the only one who believed in me."

FAITH: “You know, the good thing about God is you don’t have to have a PhD to talk to him. You just have to have faith.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Sunshine Summit: Donald Trump

ORLANDO -- Donald Trump delivered yet another rambling speech where he praised himself many times and bashed his GOP rivals and Democrats Friday at the Republican Party of Florida Sunshine Summit.

Trump made several promises such as replacing Obamacare and deporting “bad dudes” without offering specifics as to how he would deliver. And he repeated promises to get rid of sanctuary cities and make Mexico pay for his “beautiful” wall.

Trump started out with an attack on the rest of the field when he said that he had watched his rivals on TV a few hours ago and “this place was empty.” That comment drew some boos from the crowd -- but he drew more laughs and applause than boos throughout his speech.

After highlighting some recent polls showing himself in the lead, Trump dove in to make a series of promises and statements largely about immigration. Here is a snapshot:

IMMIGRATION AS A TOPIC: “If I had not talked about illegal immigration I don’t even think you’d be talking about it today. I watched Ted Cruz and I watched Marco Rubio fighting over who is tougher. I was tougher when it wasn’t very politically popular to be tough.....”

DEPORTATION: “Look at some of the gangs in LA, rough gangs, these are dudes. If I become president those people are out of here, those guys are gone.”

BUILDING A WALL: “We are going to build a wall and it's going to be a real wall.....it's going to be a real wall. A Trump Wall.

BORDER PATROL: “We are going triple up the number of border patrol. These Border Patrol guards are phenomenal. .... They want to do a good job. They can’t. They are told to stand down, stand down! People walk right in front of them, 'hi, hi, hi’ guess what? I guess you became an American citizen...... When I am there they are not going to be told to stand down.”

DREAM ACT: “We are going to hire Americans first. ... The Dream Act isn’t for our children. The Dream Act is for other children who come into the country. I want the Dream Act to be for our children.”

Trump held no press conference after his speech.

Sunshine Summit: Jeb Bush

via @adamsmithtimes

ORLANDO -- The Jeb Bush campaign clearly made a concerted effort to show off plenty of home turf support at the state GOP's Sunshine Summit, distributing noise-making Thunder Stix. For whatever it's worth, he drew the most enthusiastic crowd reaction yet (followed by Ted Cruz and then Marco Rubio), though frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson have yet to speak at the Orlando event.

"If you want a talker, maybe I'm not the guy. But if you want a doer, someone that has done it, someone that's taken on the tough challenges, I'm your man," said the former governor, who gave a sharp version of his normal stump speech and included several personal stories of Floridians who benefited from his policies as governor.

He also touted his ability to win - something that many Republican activists question,

"Thirty two years business and eight years as a reform-minded governor. I believe that is the kind of record to take on Hillary Clinton," he said at one point. 

At another: "I can win this, because I campaign all across this state and this country with my arms wide open, with joy in my heart, expressing the belief in the greatness of this country. ....How we win is going to be how I govern.."

And he appeared to allude to a couple significant obstacles in front of his campaign - Trump and Rubio. Bush scoffed at the view that "you’ve got to be the big guy on the stage and talk trash and disparage everybody."

"It's not about the big personality on the stage. It's not about who can give the great quip," Bush said. "It's about building a society that is loving, that is caring, that is aspirational, where people believe again in the American dream."

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Sunshine Summit: Mike Huckabee

ORLANDO -- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee reminisced about how he took on the Clinton machine in Arkansas and talked about the economy and immigration during the Republican Party of Florida Sunshine Summit in Orlando Friday. Here are some excerpts:

HILLARY CLINTON: “I don’t know of anybody that is better prepared to take on battle with Hillary than me because no one ever faced the Clinton machine like I did because every election I was ever involved in was against the Bill and Hillary Clinton apparatus.”

ECONOMY: “Yes we have to fix our economy. I’m the one candidate who believes tinkering with the current tax code is an inaccurate approach. ... The bottom 90% of American workers their wages have been stagnant for the last 40 years.”

IMMIGRATION: “Every Republican says we will secure the border. But we always say that and never seem to do it. .... As president I will put the Director of Homeland Security and his family in Laredo, Texas and say you are not leaving until you secure the border.”

LAUGH LINE: “I know when I die and go to heaven I’m going to stop in Atlanta on the way.” (The line was part of his anecdote about getting stuck in an airport.)