August 06, 2012

PolitiFact: Group says Connie Mack has passed only one bill in Congress in seven years

Woody Allen once said 80 percent of success is showing up.

And that’s the point American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic super PAC, makes in a farcical online video that criticizes U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV for a shabby attendance record, and for not getting much done.

"Connie Mack: Only one bill passed in seven years," says the video, which features a bummed out Florida family (presumably actors) unable to find Mack in Washington. "You think we’ll see him next time, pa?" says a disappointed child.

"Connie Mack: If he doesn’t show up for work now, why elect him senator?" the video continues.

Mack’s missed votes have made news for several months as he prepares for a likely November face-off with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. PolitiFact found that although he’s not the most representative representative (sorry!), his attendance record is better than opponents have claimed.

But did Mack really pass just one bill since he was elected in 2005?

See story here.

June 28, 2012

Reaction rolling in on health care decision

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: "What’s important to remember is that what the Court rules on is whether something is constitutional or not, not whether it’s a good idea. And while the Court has said that the law is constitutional, it remains a bad idea for our economy, and I hope that in the fall we will have a majority here that will not just repeal this law, but replace it with real solutions that will insure more people and cost a lot less money."

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.: "A lot of us feel the health-care law wasn’t perfect.  ut it was needed.  Our system was broken and we had to do something.  Insurance companies were refusing to cover people or dropping those who got sick. So, we passed legislation to prevent insurers from running roughshod over people. And today, the Supreme Court upheld most of these reforms. Now, I think it’s time we finish the job of fixing our economy and creating more jobs."

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers: "Bill Nelson cast the deciding vote on the largest tax ever placed on the American people and he will be held accountable in November by all Floridians. ObamaCare not only kills jobs, burdens families and runs up our already-massive debt, it oversteps its bounds by stripping Americans of their freedoms and mandating compliance with a government edict by calling the law a tax."

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston: "As a breast cancer survivor and one of 129 million Americans with a pre-existing condition, I am overjoyed that the Supreme Court upheld the right of every American to have access to quality, affordable health care insurance. Because of the Affordable Care Act, South Floridians like Lainie Schultz, a young woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks before her 25th birthday, will not be denied the health care coverage she needs because of pre-existing conditions. Thanks to the tax credit in the Affordable Care Act, small businesses like the GBS group in Pembroke Pines are, for the first time, able to offer health care coverage to their employees. The Affordable Care Act has already made it possible for American families and small businesses to have more control over their health care by reducing costs, increasing choice, and instituting common sense rules."

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami: “While I strongly disagree with the court’s judgment, today’s decision exemplifies why we are a system of checks and balances.  Our work is not finished, however. The court’s ruling underscores the critical role Congress must play by repealing ObamaCare.  America’s healthcare system should empower individuals and families instead of Washington bureaucrats. This ruling imposes a new huge tax on America’s already struggling families and this is unacceptable to those of us who believe that our money should stay in our pockets and not sent to Washington. I have already voted 30 times in Congress to defund, fully repeal or do away with parts of ObamaCare and I will vote that way again."

U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami: "It is in the best interest of our nation’s economy to repeal the job-killing health care law and replace it with common sense reforms that address what is wrong with the health insurance system in America. We must pass legislation that lower costs and protect American jobs, not threaten them. We must move toward a system that welcomes patient choice and flexibility, instead of more government involvement, by ensuring Americans the ability to make medical decisions without bureaucratic interference."

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar: "The Supreme Court’s ruling today is a real victory for the American people.  This decision upholds the principle that all Americans should have access to affordable, quality health care. Millions of Americans have already benefited from this important piece of legislation. I have always advocated for access to universal health care with a public option.  With the Affordable Care Act, we have taken a huge step towards putting patients and their doctors, rather than big insurance companies, in charge of an individual’s health care decisions.  While I am pleased that this important legislation was upheld by the Supreme Court, there is still work to be done.  I hope that my Republican colleagues will now do their part and end their partisan attacks by putting the interests of Americans’ health care needs first."

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami: "The Affordable Care Act is already paying dividends for millions of Americans, with more improvements to the system going into effect in the next few years. In passing health reform, President Obama and a Democratic Congress made history for our country and progress for the American people. Because of the ACA, affordable health care is now a right for all, not a privilege for the few. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed our progress and protected that right, securing a future of health and economic security for working people and their families, students and seniors."

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami: “Today’s Supreme Court decision is a huge tax increase on the American people. The President’s healthcare bill, which was written behind closed doors, dramatically increases taxes, fees, and the cost of healthcare for all Americans. Obamacare was supposed to lower the price of healthcare. Instead, it has done the exact opposite – the price of healthcare has skyrocketed. With the individual mandate, President Obama is slamming the American people with a burdensome new tax. It has also been a major factor in the sluggish growth of our economy and anemic job creation. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to repeal Obamacare in order to protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctors they choose, at a price they can afford." 

Continue reading "Reaction rolling in on health care decision" »

June 20, 2012

Dave Weldon says he'll gain from LeMieux's exit from Senate race

Former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon says his last-minute Senate campaign will benefit from George LeMieux bowing out of the U.S. Senate race.

"I think it's going to really set up a classical match between a more moderate establishment candidate versus a grassroots conservative candidate," the Brevard County doctor told the Times/Herald.

The final straw for LeMieux was probably front-runner Connie Mack's endorsement from Freedom Works and a $1 million donation from casino boss Sheldon Adelson to a pro-Mack super PAC this week, he said. 

"George might have seen that as insurmountable," he said.

Weldon's challenge remains his unfamiliarity with voters -- and grassroots activists. He offered to fill in for LeMieux at an upcoming dinner of Clay County Republicans, he said, but even the county chairwoman didn't know who he was.

He wouldn't offer specifics, but he said donations are picking up today with news of LeMieux's exit. He said his team is in talks with Herman Cain, who endorsed LeMieux.

"I've got a whole bunch of offers that just came in through the last few hours," he said.


June 19, 2012

Top Senate Democrat: Republicans have "phony outrage" over immigration

Following President Barack Obama's move last week to let some young illegal immigrants stay in the U.S., immigration as a political issue is back in Congress, in a big way. And especially for Florida lawmakers.

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Stuart, introduced a bill today that would block the administration's directive. (The administration's plan allows young illegal immigrants who were raised in the United States to remain for two years under a deferred deportation.)

Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, is pressing ahead with his own legislation to help such DREAM Act-eligible kids.

And Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who never had a immigration bill in writing for people to vet, says the president should have called him about working on immigration legislation. He told ABC News that the president's proposal "just gets him through the election. "The White House never called us about this. No one reached out to us and told us this was on its way. And, I mean, if they were serious about a real solution to this problem and not politicizing it, then why don’t you reach out to people."

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told Republicans today that they had their chance to be a part of something big -- and still do. He singled out Rubio in particular for what he called "phony outrage" over the administration's move.

"In the past, Republicans have expressed broad support for the principles of President Obama’s directive," Reid said. "And Senator Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, has even talked up a similar idea to the press for months, although he never actually produced a proposal."

Republicans are "taking their marbles and going home," Reid said.

"Since Friday, leading Republican voices on immigration reform have all but ceded the debate until after the election. Republicans who once favored a permanent solution for America’s broken immigration system are now abandoning efforts to find common ground," he said. "And the same Republicans who complained they weren’t involved enough in the President’s decision are now giving up any involvement in the broader immigration conversation."

June 18, 2012

Is the GOP Senate primary over? Connie Mack says so

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV's strategy to win the Republican primary for U.S. Senate is simple: ignore it.

"We have a 33-point lead," Mack said last week, explaining his decision to skip three televised GOP primary debates.

With a comfy lead, a highly recognizable family name and the support of Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, Mack seems the far-and-away favorite to face off against Sen. Bill Nelson come November.

But some grass roots Republicans say it's too soon for Mack to declare himself the winner — especially if he won't make the customary rounds at debates and straw polls.

"It's an incredibly bad message to send to the voters in a primary," said Nancy McGowan, president of the Conservative Republican Forum of Jacksonville. "It just says, 'What you think doesn't matter.' "

Keep reading the story.

April 19, 2012

No nod from Rubio in GOP Senate primary

Lackluster fundraising, concerns about the viability of the frontrunners and the possibility of a new Republican candidate in the U.S. Senate race have made news this week. Sen. Marco Rubio, who had his own high-profile GOP primary in 2010, weighed in on the tumult among Florida Republicans who hope to defeat incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. 

"I have a tremendous working relationship with Sen. Nelson, so I won't say anything negative about Sen. Nelson," Rubio said. "As far as the Republican primary is concerned, I think we have good candidates."

"My understanding is that the chief financial officer of the state, Jeff Atwater, may be interested in running in the race. He'd be a good candidate as well. I think Florida Republicans will nominate a good  candiadte. I want us to be in the majority. I'm not that concerned about the primary."

April 14, 2012

Mack campaign loses luster in Senate race

With an iconic name and access to Washington cash, Congressman Connie Mack looked like the great Republican hope when he entered Florida’s U.S. Senate race and posed a serious threat to Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

Six months later, however, Mack has proven to be neither a potent statewide candidate nor a shoo-in to win the Republican nomination against his little-known rivals.

From Washington to Tallahassee to local GOP clubs, GOP professionals and activists are buzzing about Mack’s underwhelming campaign and debut as a statewide candidate. Some want another candidate.

Mack has managed to raise barely more money than former interim Sen. George LeMieux, who’s tainted by his longtime association with former Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist. They have slightly more than $1 million in the bank each. Nelson sits on $8.5 million, without an expensive primary looming.

Only twice has Mack appeared for candidate forums with the two other major Republican candidates, and each time conservative activists who questioned and listened to all three voted Mack the weakest of the bunch.

“When he got into the race it’s almost like Connie Mack sucked the air out of the race, but he wasn’t able to sustain that,” said Karin Hoffman, CEO of the Broward County-based DC Works for Us, which organized a recent tea party conference in Orlando attended by the Senate candidates.

“As more time has gone on,” she said, “the reaction to him from people paying attention has become, “Well, not so much.’”

Keep reading.

Read more here:


March 29, 2012

Appeals court validates legislators' legal shield, throws out lower court ruling

In a precedent-setting legal opinion, First District Court of Appeals Judge Phil Padovano ruled today that legislators are entitled to the common law immunity from prosecution and cannot be compelled to testify about how they arrived at their decisions. Download 1st DCA ruling on legislative immunity

The ruling reversed a trial court decision that had forced Rep. Rick Kriseman, a St. Petersburg Democrat, and his aide to testify about the source of legal documents they obtained during the 2011 legislative debate over how to tax online travel companies.

Expedia had subpoenaed Kriseman and his aide, David Flintom, so they could ask how they obtained confidential company documents that were sealed as part of the court record in a Georgia case over online travel company taxes. Download Flintom - subpoena for deposition on 11-04-2011The lower court ruled that the legislators and his aide could be deposed but required that the questions be limited.

Padovano disagreed with the lower court, threw out the subpoena and quashed the decision. He acknowledged that in Florida, unlike other states, the courts have "not yet directly held that a member of the state legislature is entitled to claim a testimonial privilege."

Continue reading "Appeals court validates legislators' legal shield, throws out lower court ruling" »

February 03, 2012

Political sons, unite: Jeb Bush Jr. endorses Connie Mack IV

Jeb Bush Jr. threw his support on Friday behind Rep. Connie Mack IV for U.S. Senate, a chance for the two sons of well-known Florida politicians to appear together and, well, talk about their fathers.

"We have a lot of things in common," Mack, a Fort Myers congressman, told three reporters at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. "One of them is we have fathers that are very respected."

Mack's father, Connie Mack III, was also in Congress. Bush is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Mack said Bush Jr. will co-chair his campaign. Bush praised Mack's "honor, integrity and dogged determination." Mack made no mention of his Republican primary opponents, former Sen. George LeMieux and Mike McCalister, and instead tried to tie incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson with President Barack Obama, calling them "lockstep liberals."

"That's a good thing, we welcome that," Mack said about former rival Adam Hasner dropping out of the Senate race to run for Congress. "But this race is really about Sen. Nelson."

Bush, for his part, last held a made-for-press endorsement for former Gov. Jon Huntsman, before Huntsman dropped out of the presidential primary. Bush has since backed Mitt Romney.

"I am a Mitt man," he said. "I think it's time for us as a party to get behind one candidate.

"In terms of Dad," Bush added, "we'll see."

January 31, 2012

Shakeup: Adam Hasner to run for West's CD seat; Mack could walk in U.S. Senate primary

The dominoes are falling.

U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner will likely leave the race and run for Allen West's soon-to-be-vacated Congressional seat, a source tells us. West's seat looks a lot like Hasner's old legislative Delray Beach-based district.

Hasner's move makes sense on more levels than that. Rep. Connie Mack, of Fort Myers, is cruising in the U.S. Senate race, leading in the polls and, soon, fundraising. Hasner could have handled that.

But Hasner's campaign was dealt a serious blow, of sorts, bythe presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, who stumped in the final days across Florida with Mack. Mack picked up precious TV time and the aura of the favored.

Meanwhile, to avoid a bloody primary, leadership in the U.S. House asked Hasner to run for West's seat. But first, West had to announce he'd leave his seat and run for Tom Rooney's seat. And before that happened, Rooney had to announce he'd leave his district and run for a new district.

Connie Mack still has to run in a primary, though, and former Sen. George LeMieux is sticking with it. At least for now.

All of the shifting has been sparked in large part by the Constitutional requirement to redraw congressional districts every 10 years after the U.S. Census. A new state constitutional requirement forbids state legislators, who must redraw the maps, from favoring or disfavoring an incumbent or political party.

 Translation: It's a recipe for a lawsuit.

So now the question is: What happens to this Republican congressional musical-chairs game if Democrats sue and win the right to have new maps?