December 12, 2011

Democrat calls out Marco Rubio for voting against El Salvador ambassador nominee

 Hispanic politics sure can get complicated in South Florida.

To wit: Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, the (Colombian) Democrat who ran -- without the hyphenated last name -- against Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Cuban) in 2008 and again unsuccessfully for Miami-Dade County Commission last year, sent out an e-mail blast Monday night condemning Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (Cuban) for voting to block to nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte (Puerto Rican) to serve as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador.


Senate Republicans, including Rubio, voted against Aponte's confirmation on Monday. They cited questions about an old live-in boyfriend of Aponte's who was a Cuban spy and allegedly tried to recruit her (in a spy-caper twist, there was also a report that the boyfriend was an informant for the U.S.). The FBI cleared Aponte, who later received two top security clearances -- but not before the chatter scuttled her 1993 nomination by President Bill Clinton to serve as ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Republicans also took issue with a gay rights op-ed Aponte wrote in a Salvadoran newspaper. She is temporarily serving as ambassador in the Central American country, having been named to the post by President Barack Obama during a congressional recess.

Rubio has also opposed the nomination of Roberta Jacobson as assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, which deals with Cuba. Rubio has warned that he will oppose other Western Hemisphere nominees until the Obama administration changes its policies toward Latin America, which Rubio views as weak and inadequate.

Continue reading "Democrat calls out Marco Rubio for voting against El Salvador ambassador nominee" »

December 06, 2011

Memo to Connie Mack: It's A-R-R-I-Z-U-R-I-E-T-A

One reason campaigns spend so much time sending out press release about steering committees and endorsements is that their supporters like seeing their names.

Presumably, they want their names spelled correctly as well. 

But in all fairness to the Connie Mack for Senate campaign, the name of longtime Republican fundraiser "Jorge Arrizurieta" of Miami is a tough name to get right. 

Here's the press release:

FT. MYERS – Congressman Connie Mack (R-FL) announced the initial names of his statewide Finance Steering Committee for his campaign for the United States Senate.  These key initial supporters will help establish a strong and deeply committed network around the state of Florida to help raise money for Mack’s campaign.

Mack said:

“The outpouring of support this early in my campaign has been exciting and humbling.  Having the support of these respected individuals from across the state get us one step closer to defeating Bill Nelson and the Lockstep Liberals in Washington. Their help, support and guidance will be an important part of our successful campaign.”

Mack Finance Steering Committee (in formation)

Ambassador Francis & Kathleen Rooney
Joe & Leslie Fogg
Senate President Mike Haridopolos
Senator John Thrasher
Marty Fiorentino
Brian & Kathryn Ballard
Charlie Dudley
Lew Eisenberg
Jorge Arrizureta
Dr. Zachariah Zachariah
Bill & Bonny Smith
Carlos & Janelle Beruff
Tramm Hudson
Senator Pat Neal
Robert Watkins
Stephen Diaco
Mark Bostick
Scott Barnhart
Garrett Walton


December 02, 2011

PPP poll: Bill Nelson holds double-digit lead over Connie Mack in U.S. Senate race

From Public Policy Polling, which usually surveys for Democrats:

Several Florida Senate polls conducted shortly after Connie Mack IV's entry into the race found a toss up contest, but PPP's newest look finds that any announcement bump Mack may have received has now receded.  Bill Nelson leads him by a 46-35 margin. That's pretty consistent with two earlier polls of a Nelson/Mack match that PPP had conducted. In March we found Nelson with a 13 point advantage and last December we found him ahead by 9 points.

Nelson has two big things going for him in a match against Mack.  One is that he wins 14% of the Republican vote, an unusual amount of crossover support for a Democrat.  The other is that he has a 42/33 advantage with independent voters. 22% of Republicans are undecided compared to only 13% of Democrats so this race will likely tighten up once the GOP unites around a candidate, but for now Nelson has a healthy lead.

Nelson's approval numbers continue to be tepid with only 38% of voters approving of him to 37% who disapprove.  But as we've explained repeatedly, Nelson's numbers are a little bit misleading. The reason they're so low is that only 51% of Democrats approve of him to 27% who disapprove, an unusually weak standing for a Senator to have with the party base. But even though only 51% approve of Nelson, 76-80% say that they will vote for him in a general election. Barack Obama will have to provide the enthusiasm for those folks to get out to the polls, but once they get there they'll vote for Nelson too.  Although Nelson's unusually weak with his own party, he's on positive ground with independents at 40/35 and also gets good marks from a higher than normal 22% of Republicans.

More here.


December 01, 2011

George LeMieux camp touts Miami-Dade support

Republican U.S. Senate hopeful George LeMieux's campaign put out a list of Miami-Dade supporters, including state Sen. Rene Garcia of Hialeah, County Commissioner Lynda Bell, Miami City Commissioner Francis Suarez and School Board member Carlos Curbelo, who worked for LeMieux in Washington.

Here's the press release:

Continue reading "George LeMieux camp touts Miami-Dade support" »

November 02, 2011

Unlike Rubio, most Republican U.S. Senate candidates skip AP news meeting

UPDATE: Senate President Mike Haridoplos has endorsed Connie Mack in the race. "He is going to elevate the debate in the Republican primary."

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner has patterned much of his campaign on Marco Rubio. Here's one difference: Rubio showed up to the annual Associated Press editors meeting in Tallahassee when he was a candidate.

Rubio faced tough questions about immigration and his personal financial disclosures when put his campaign in front of reporters and editors around the state. Hasner, who has no public events on his schedule today, won't have to do that. Neither will former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack who also are not here.

The Republicans who did come today the only two candidates who have not held elected office: businessman Craig Miller and retired Army Col. Mike McCalister.

A Public Policy Polling survey released Sept. 28 showed McCalister leading the pack with 17 percent while 58 percent of voters were undecided.

Continue reading "Unlike Rubio, most Republican U.S. Senate candidates skip AP news meeting" »

October 27, 2011

PolitiFact Florida puts U.S. Rep. Connie Mack news through the Flip-O-Meter

On whether U.S. Rep. Connie Mack would run for U.S. Senate in 2012:

"The time is not right for me," Mack said. "You have to put family and friends above political ambitions, and that is what I have done."
—March 25, 2011, Fort Myers News-Press

"Connie Mack is running for the U.S. Senate. ...," said David James, a senior adviser.
—Oct. 26, 2011, Miami Herald

Mack has yet to make an official announcement. But an adviser speaking for him says he'll be running for the seat that less than a year ago he declared he wouldn't pursue for the sake of his "two small children." PolitiFact Florida ran his statements through the Flip-O-Meter.

October 26, 2011

PolitiFact Florida checks Sen. Bill Nelson's role wrangling oil spill data from BP

It's been a year and a half since oil suddenly gushed from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig into the Gulf of Mexico. 

In the early days, rig operator BP estimated about 1,000 barrels a day might be escaping into the gulf. The true number? More like 50,000 to 60,000 barrels — or more than 2 million gallons — every day, for three months.

How did we learn it was so high?

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., says it wasn't until he and a Senate colleague were able to "wrangle the actual streaming video" from BP that scientists were able to calculate the flow.

Nelson spoke about the spill Oct. 11 on the Senate floor, where he urged his colleagues to find a way to fund gulf research. Was the senior senator from Florida responsible for lifting the veil on a disaster unfolding 5,000 feet underwater?

PolitiFact Florida checked it out.

October 11, 2011

Senators also part ways on Chinese currency bill

And the two senators also parted ways Tuesday evening on the Chinese currency bill, which cracks down on China's currency policies. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson voted for the legislation, which the White House so far hasn't supported, and which the House of Representatives is unlikely to take up. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio voted against it.

It passed 63-35.

August 26, 2011

New poll tests Allen West, Vern Buchanan vs Nelson

A new Sachs/Mason-Dixon poll find that U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan would have a slight lead over the field of prospective Republican U.S. Senate candidates if he jumped in, but he's not especially competetive against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.
The poll was conducted before south Florida Congressman Allen West ruled out running for senate, and it included West and Buchanan among the prospective Republicans. Here are the results of the hypothetical primary:

Vern Buchanan  14%
Allen West     11%
Adam Hasner    8%
George LeMieux 7%
Craig Miller   5%
Mike McAlister 2%  
David Gee      1%
Undecided  52%

A recent Quinnipiac poll included only the announced candidates and found McCalister narrowly leading the field with 15 percent support.

The Sachs/Mason-Dixon poll included several matchups against Bill Nelson:
Nelson 49%, LeMieux 34%, Undecided 17%
Nelson 45%, Hasner 34%, Undecided 21%
Nelson 45%, Buchanan 35%, Undecided 18%
Nelson 44%, West 38%m Undecided 18%

August 24, 2011

Did McCalister join reserves to avoid Vietnam?

Despite his denunciations and push-back, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McCalister continues to face veterans questioning his military record. The latest comes in a release by the Stolen Valor Task Force, which says it is not backing any candidate in the race. Today they sent out this:

Former Army Captain Ed Maxwell, who served as an enlisted man prior to being commissioned and serving a 19 month combat tour in Vietnam was emphatic about McCalister’s claim of enlisted active duty service. “All of Mike McCalister’s enlisted service was limited to reserve component Active Duty for training going though his initial basic training, and attending 2 week training periods with his units. Only active duty performed in an active component unit, or as a member of a mobilized Guard or Reserve unit counted for veterans’ status during the Vietnam era. McCalister did not qualify for veterans status until 1992, after serving a 2 years as an ROTC instructor at Florida A&M University as a major.” Maxwell who is also a Vietnam Veterans organization leader, added: “I have had it with McCalister’s charges and innuendos against us. I can not conclusively prove Mike’s actual motives for initially joining the Guard in 1971, but I can offer some strong evidence to base conclusions on. The facts are that in 1971, Guard units were extremely unlikely to be activated and sent to Vietnam. Joining the Guard gained exemption from the draft. After 4 to 6 months of active duty, a Reservist or Guardsman returned to their communities as part-time soldiers and resumed their normal lives. During the draft lottery, Selective Service drafted young men who drew lottery numbers, based on birth dates. Mike McCalister’s number gave him a very high probability of being drafted, at about the same time he joined the Guard.”


We haven't received a response from the McCalister campaign yet, but the Plant City Republican briefly addressed his military experience in an August Political Connections interview on Bay News 9, when he still looked like the longest of long shots. The clip is above.