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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
The Republican Party of Florida accused national Democrats on Wednesday of trying to “manipulate” a Miami-based congressional district primary after a would-be Democratic contender announced he would run for the state Senate instead of Congress.
“The Democrat leadership in Washington has once again worked behind the scenes to manipulate the primary process in Florida’s 26th congressional district by pressuring Andrew Korge not to primary their chosen candidate Annette Taddeo,” the Florida GOP said in a statement.
Korge said nothing of the sort when he made his decision to run for state Senate public earlier Wednesday. He said he would have a bigger impact in Tallahassee than Washington.
“I love my Republican friends – they have a great sense of humor,” Korge said in response. “I appreciate that. Any time they’re making jokes instead of destroying our state, destroying our environment and destroying our schools, that’s better for all of us.”
Democratic Party leaders, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, and Ben Ray Lujan, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, have fundraised for Taddeo and made sure to note that they would prefer to avoid a primary that could bruise their candidate and force her to spend money before against another Democrat instead of against the incumbent Republican, Rep. Carlos Curbelo.
That’s typical party business. But the GOP used Korge’s announcement Wednesday to note that the DCCC once got involved in a shady 2010 race in the same congressional district. The committee sent out mailers to boost a ringer tea-party candidate as a way to hurt the Republican in the race and boost the Democrat.
“Their continuous urge and attempt to decide the election behind closed doors before Floridians get a chance to vote is unacceptable and offensive to our democratic process,” GOP spokesman Wadi Gaitan said.
UPDATE: Here's what DCCC spokesman Jerome House had to say in response: "This sounds like the Congressman Curbelo Democratic Conspiracy Theory, 2.0. Republicans have lost all hope of winning this Democratic-leaning district, and are therefore obsessed with fabricating drama to distract from Carlos Curbelo's record that fails South Floridians."
Gov. Rick Scott hasn't written off one of his famous predecessor's chances of becoming president.
Scott, in Washington to deliver an address on reforming hospital pricing practices at the American Enterprise Institute, put on his politics hat after the talk.
Scott, governor since 2011, said it's too soon to give up on former Gov. Jeb Bush despite his failure to gain traction in polls.
"I still think it's early," Scott told the Miami Herald. "I mean, we haven't even done the first primary yet."
Scott said that Bush "was a very successful governor" when he headed the state from 1999 to 2007, noting in particular his education reforms.
"We're at a 12-year high in our K-12 graduation rate," Scott said.
Adding that "Jeb is working hard," Scott said, "The person that works the hardest generally wins."
Despite praising Bush's record in Florida, Scott declined to endorse him. Neither is he endorsing -- yet -- fellow Floridian Marco Rubio, the first-term U.S. senator, nor any of the other Republican presidential hopefuls.
"Like a lot of voters in Florida, I'm watching the candidates," the governor said.
Four days before the Feb.1 Iowa caucuses, Bush tallied just 4 percent in a NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll of that state's Republican voters released Thursday. He was far behind businessman Donald Trump and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio of Florida, while also trailing neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Bush is faring better in New Hampshire, which will hold its primary Feb. 9, according to a poll released Thursday by Suffolk University. Bush broke out of the single digits with 11 percent, putting him in a second-place tie with Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Rubio, with all four men well behind Trump's 27 percent standing.
In addition to Bush, Scott said he has personal relationships with Rubio, along with Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie through the Republican Governors Association.
Scott criticized the Republican National Committee for having scheduled just nine presidential debates this year.
"I wish the national party hadn't limited the number of debates and limited the locations," he said.
The RNC is weighing three additional possible Republican presidential debates.
The March 10 GOP debate will be at the University of Miami, nine days after Super Tuesday, when 14 states will hold Republican primaries or caucuses. Florida will hold its primary on March 15.
Scott declined to comment directly on Trump's decision to skip Thursday night's Fox News debate because of his ongoing feud with Megyn Kelly, one of its moderators.
"Every candidate's got to think about what's the best forum for them to get their message out, whether it's debates, whether it's town halls," Scott said.