September 19, 2016

In Tampa, Patrick Murphy talks Marco Rubio, immigration reform

Via @adawsonwrites

He didn't get a chance to eat the Cuban sandwich and plantain chips laid at his table Monday at Arco Iris Restaurant in West Tampa, but U.S. Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy left the small cafe with support from a host of political activists.

Much of Murphy's brief stop with state Rep. Janet Cruz, who will be the House Democratic leader after the Nov. 8 election, was spent blasting his opponent, incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, on everything from Zika funding to immigration and health care reform laws.

"Guess what, it takes an Irishman to speak on behalf of the Latinos on immigration. It takes an Irishman to protect the rights of families and say, 'I'll work on a path to citizenship,' " Cruz said of Murphy as he settled in at a long table of supporters. "It's a Latino that we have in the Senate that is speaking out against our own people."

Immigration reform is key to strengthening the economy, said Murphy, a South Florida congressman. Borders should be secured and laws enforced, he said, but with a clear pathway to citizenship so kids aren't "graduating from school and getting kicked out the next day."

More here.

Communications Workers of America endorses Patrick Murphy for general election

Murphy primary nite 5 - richard graulich pbp

@ByKristenMClark

The Communications Workers of America is endorsing U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy now that he's the Democrats' official general election contender for Florida's U.S. Senate seat.

Last spring -- during the primary phase of the campaign -- the union had endorsed Murphy's main Democratic opponent, fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson

The CWA had represented a rare, major endorsement for Grayson, but Murphy beat him easily in the Aug. 30 primary.

The union represents more than 700,000 workers -- including 12,000 in Florida -- across various fields, such as information technology, telecommunications, news media, health care, manufacturing and the airline industry.

CWA leaders plan to announce their "full support" of Murphy's campaign at a 9 a.m. press conference Monday in West Palm Beach. Murphy has represented northern Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast in Congress since 2013.

"Patrick is the leader that our hardworking CWA members need in the U.S. Senate and we are proud to endorse his campaign," Richard Honeycutt, vice president of CWA District 3, said in a statement, provided by Murphy's campaign. "From standing up for workers’ rights to fighting to raise the minimum wage, Patrick shares our priorities. Hardworking Floridians are ready for a senator who shows up and works hard for them and we are confident that Patrick will be that senator."

Murphy said in a campaign statement that he was "proud" to have the CWA's support, and he pledged to "stand with CWA members to fight for our shared priorities."

Murphy is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in November.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / AP/The Palm Beach Post

September 17, 2016

Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio agree: Don't pardon Edward Snowden

Snowden-ap-theguardian

@ByKristenMClark

Despite their myriad differences, U.S. Senate candidates Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy are on the same page when it comes to Edward Snowden's fate.

Both the Republican incumbent and his Democratic challenger believe President Barack Obama should not pardon Snowden, the man who a few years ago leaked details of classified national security surveillance programs.

Talk of a potential pardon for Snowden made headlines this week, as a new movie about Snowden's life debuted in theaters amid a push by major human rights groups for Obama to pardon him for his actions.

The House Intelligence Committee -- of which Murphy is a member -- weighed in on the matter, too, with the completion of its own two-year inquiry and a unanimous letter to Obama on Thursday emphatically urging against a Snowden pardon.

"Given the findings by the House Intelligence Committee on which he serves, Congressman Murphy joined the entire bipartisan committee in strongly opposing a pardon for Snowden," Murphy's congressional spokeswoman Erin Moffet said in a statement to the Herald/Times.

"The congressman believes Edward Snowden should be held accountable for his actions," Moffet said. "The theft and disclosure of classified American military, defense, and intelligence documents, which may now be available to Russia, China, and other adversaries, must not be taken lightly.  Snowden not only violated privacy interests, but also harmed our national security."

Asked by the Herald/Times for Rubio's opinion on a Snowden pardon, Rubio's campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said the senator also doesn't support it.

"Marco has been saying for years that Edward Snowden is a traitor, and he should face the full consequences for his dangerous betrayal of the U.S.," Perez-Cubas said.

Continue reading "Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio agree: Don't pardon Edward Snowden" »

September 16, 2016

Report: DSCC makes further cuts to Florida ad buy

Murphy _ ap

@ByKristenMClark

Senate Democrats' chief campaign committee is withdrawing even more advertising money from Florida, cutting its once-$10 million ad reservation down to $6 million, Politico reported this afternoon.

It's not good news for Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy -- who needs the boost of outside spending to improve his low statewide name recognition and to sway voters in his bid to unseat Republican incumbent U.S Sen. Marco Rubio.

MORE: "$40 million worth of ads are coming in Murphy-Rubio battle"

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had originally been scheduled to debut its ads in Florida on Sept. 20, but over the past two weeks, the committee cut at least $1.5 million in planned ads -- delaying most of its airtime until October.

But Politico reports the DSCC is further "ceding ground" in expensive states like Florida and Ohio in favor of races in North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana.

On top of the cancellations and reductions in ad time for September, the DSCC on Friday was also cutting time for the week of Oct. 4, according to various reports. It appears that cancellation amounted to about $2.5 million.

When asked for comment, DSCC spokeswoman Sadie Weiner referred the Herald/Times to the Politico story. She did not respond to earlier emails Thursday and Friday asking for an updated figure on the committee's planned ad buy.

Amid the DSCC's reductions, Democratic officials have argued that a $10.5 million planned ad buy that began this week by the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, would be more than enough to fight on Murphy's behalf.

But Republicans will be out in force for Rubio, too. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has already spent $2 million of a $4.8 million ad buy planned before Oct. 2. And the Senate Leadership Fund, a conservative super PAC, plans to start a $10.8 million ad buy on Tuesday.

Photo credit: AP

Outside groups plan $40M+ in TV ads for Florida U.S. Senate race

Capture

@ByKristenMClark

At least a dozen super PACs and independent political groups have pledged at least $40 million so far in reserved TV time in Florida’s U.S. Senate race — hoping to use a barrage of commercials before Election Day to steer voters to Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio or Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

The money is almost split evenly between Republican and Democratic backers, with about $20 million on each side, the Herald/Times found.

And that doesn’t even count the millions the candidates’ own campaigns might pour into TV advertising. Both launched their first ads of the general election this month, but neither campaign would discuss with the Herald/Times how much they planned to spend through November.

Meanwhile, at least $12 million has already been spent by roughly two dozen groups to buoy Murphy’s and Rubio’s campaigns with outside support, including TV ads, Federal Election Commission records compiled by ProPublica show.

The tens of millions of dollars these political influencers are investing — from the conservative Koch brothers to liberal labor unions — is another mark of how important Florida’s U.S. Senate race is on the national stage.

More here.

Image credits: Marco Rubio's U.S. Senate campaign and Senate Majority PAC/AFSCME People / YouTube

Murphy, Rubio debate gun reform 3 months after Orlando shooting

Rubio murphy

@ByKristenMClark

Three months after the Orlando shooting massacre, how best to reform America’s gun laws and better thwart suspected terrorists’ efforts to buy firearms has become an issue of sharp contrast between the two candidates running in Florida’s highly competitive and nationally watched U.S. Senate race.

Gun control reform became a prominent topic this week between Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio, as each candidate seeks to better define himself — and his opponent — for Florida voters.

Earlier this week, Murphy used an endorsement he got from the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, an LGBT gun-reform group founded after the Orlando shooting, as an opportunity to strike a contrast with Rubio’s defense of gun rights.

Then on Thursday, their differences boiled over after Rubio introduced his own Orlando-inspired gun reform proposal in the Senate.

More here.

Photo credit: AP / The Palm Beach Post

NRSC repeats specific attacks on Murphy's resume that Politifact rated "Mostly False"

Capture

@ByKristenMClark

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is out with yet another ad criticizing Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy for embellishing his résumé.

The ad's message mirrors one the Senate Republicans' campaign committee released last week, which included specific claims that Politifact rated "Mostly False."

The ad cites a CBS4 Miami report from June as its source to say that Murphy "never" worked as a CPA or "never" was a small business owner.

Murphy's explanation of what he did in those roles has evolved since last spring, after the media started vetting his résumé. But while he might have oversold his credentials, Politifact found: "In both cases, the word 'never' is too extreme to characterize Murphy’s work experience."

Murphy's campaign has repeatedly pushed back on Republicans' attacks over the Jupiter congressman's résumé, saying they've been "discredited."

"All the NRSC has 'revealed' in this ad is repeated lies, which have been rated 'mostly false' by PolitiFact, a respected, independent fact-checker," Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement. "After Marco Rubio abandoned Florida to pursue his own political ambition, it's clear that Rubio and his special interest allies have nothing but lies to run on."

But the nuances of Murphy's résumé are not as black-and-white as either side likes to portray it. Learn more here from Politifact about the extent of Murphy's CPA and small business experience.

Meanwhile, this week, Politifact also rated "Mostly True" a claim in an ad from Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio, which said Murphy had embellished his academic credentials from the University of Miami.

Here's the new NRSC ad:

Image credit: NRSC / YouTube

*This post has been updated with comment from Murphy's campaign.

September 15, 2016

Connecticut U.S. senator uses Twitter to attack Rubio, defend Murphy

Chris murphy-ct_ap

@ByKristenMClark

One of the U.S. Senate's leading Democratic voices in favor of gun-control reform -- and an early supporter of Florida U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy -- unleashed a bit of a Tweet storm Thursday afternoon in response to a new bill introduced earlier in the day by Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Rubio's U.S. Senate office touted his "Terror Intelligence Improvement Act" as a bill that "would make it harder for suspected terrorists to purchase firearms and easier for law enforcement agencies to go after suspected terrorists, while safeguarding law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment and due process rights." (More here.)

But in one of a handful of tweets, Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy -- no relation to Patrick Murphy -- said: "This bill won't stop one terrorist from getting a gun. This is a rehash of the gun lobby's proposal."

Less than an hour after Chris Murphy's tweets, Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign released a lengthy statement from Chris Murphy with a message to the same effect.

Chris Murphy famously filibustered on the Senate floor for 15 hours in June in support of gun reform after the Orlando shooting.

Patrick Murphy and his campaign earlier Thursday were also quick to criticize Rubio for both the timing and content of his new bill.

Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

*We have asked Rubio's campaign for comment and will update this post when they respond.

Murphy criticizes timing of Rubio's bill to thwart suspected terrorists from buying guns

Guns

@ByKristenMClark

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy says Sen. Marco Rubio's introduction of a bill this morning to make it harder for suspected terrorists to buy guns is "an embarrassment" and smacks of political opportunism.

Rubio -- the Republican incumbent seeking re-election this fall against Murphy's challenge -- today offered what he's named the "Terror Intelligence Improvement Act" in reaction to the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub three months ago.

In a statement through his Senate office, Rubio said the bill is "another step toward fulfilling my promise" to Fred and Maria Wright, whose son, Jerry, was killed in the shooting.

"The Wrights made a simple request: that we improve our laws so it is more difficult for evil people to get ahold of guns," Rubio said. "I told them I would continue working toward consensus on common-sense measures that would help ensure criminals, terrorists and others seeking to take innocent lives are not able to acquire firearms."

He said his legislation "builds on some of the best ideas that have been proposed and improves them in ways that I hope will make a bipartisan solution more likely."

"This bill would achieve everyone’s goal of making it harder for suspected terrorists to buy guns, and do so without violating the due process and Second Amendment rights of innocent, law-abiding Americans," Rubio said.

Among its various provisions, Rubio's bill calls for requiring that the FBI director and the Joint Terrorism Task Force be immediately notified of requests to transfer a firearm to someone who was investigated for terrorism within the last 10 years. It also allows the U.S. Attorney General to delay a firearms' purchase for up to three days and file an emergency court petition if someone previously investigated for terrorism tries to buy a gun.

MORE: Read the bill.

But Murphy, in a campaign statement, was quick to criticize Rubio's introduction of the bill as a "transparent attempt to paper over his relentless opposition to legislation that prevents gun violence."

Continue reading "Murphy criticizes timing of Rubio's bill to thwart suspected terrorists from buying guns" »

September 14, 2016

Competing demands crowd Zika money

  

@jamesmartinrose

WASHINGTON Turns out, Zika isn’t the only urgent problem that needs federal funds fast.

Florida lawmakers pushing to get $1.1 billion for Zika prevention and research into a rapidly evolving broader appropriations bill are competing with members of Congress from across the country who want their needs addressed.

On his second day in Washington to push for Zika funding, Gov. Rick Scott met with members of Congress from the state who briefed him on the rapidly evolving negotiations over federal spending.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, said he’s jousting with other panel members seeking vital funding for their districts and states.

Lawmakers from Louisiana want billions for flood relief. Congressmen from Michigan want millions to clean contaminated drinking water. Others are pushing for more money for veterans’ healthcare.

“Florida’s not the only state with urgent needs,” Diaz-Balart told reporters after he and other Florida lawmakers met with Scott.

The governor said that Florida can’t wait any longer to receive federal aid to help with treating the almost 800 people in the state infected with the virus and preventing it from spreading further.

“We need help, and we need help now,” Scott said.

Scott criticized Sen. Bill Nelson for joining other Democrats in having voted down earlier Zika bills because they contained extraneous provisions related to abortion, Planned Parenthood and the federal health insurance law.

Scott’s criticism drew a rebuke from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a fellow Republican from Miami.

“We don’t need to be calling people out,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Sen. Nelson has been trying to help get Zika funding.”

Beyond the competition among different funding needs, there was disagreement on Capitol Hill over how much time the omnibus spending bill, called a Continuing Resolution, should cover going forward.

Appropriators sought a short-term measure that would keep the government operating into December. Some conservatives wanted it to be funded until March. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress were pushing for a bill to cover the entire next fiscal year, starting Oct. 1 and lasting through Sept. 30, 2017.

Video credit: Ken Cedeno, McClatchy