October 24, 2016

Pro-Murphy super PAC launches ad targeting Murphy's current constituents

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@ByKristenMClark

Boosted by a recent influx of cash of an unknown amount and origin, an independent super PAC that supports Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is launching a TV ad that will air in Murphy's backyard between now and Election Day.

"Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" announced the ad Monday morning, which touts newspaper editorial endorsements Murphy has received from the Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times, Orlando Sentinel and Sun Sentinel. Each editorial included harsh criticism for Republican incumbent Marco Rubio, which the ad also emphasizes.

In response to the ad, Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said Murphy has "nothing to show" for his four years in Congress and argued the senator "has a strong record of fighting for Florida's families."

The super PAC says it's spending $800,000 to run the ad for the next two weeks on West Palm Beach stations -- a TV market that serves Murphy's moderate congressional district in northern Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

That area should hypothetically be safe territory for the Jupiter congressman since Palm Beach County is heavily Democratic and more-moderate Treasure Coast voters helped elect Murphy to Congress for the past two cycles.

Ashley Walker, spokeswoman for "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class," told the Herald/Times: "Patrick Murphy has a strong record of independence in this district in terms of doing what's right for his constituents, and this ad reinforces that message."

As of Sept. 30, "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" didn't even have $800,000 in the bank to spend, but Walker said "obviously some contributions have come in" since then.

Heading into October, the super PAC reported having $764,000 in cash on hand in its third-quarter disclosure report. Walker said the recent donations will be disclosed in the committee's pre-general election report, which is due later this week.

Between July and September, the super PAC reported raising about $1 million between July and September -- a haul that included a $250,000 check from Murphy's father, Tom Murphy Jr. (Tom Murphy had also previously given $500,000 to the committee earlier in the campaign.)

Image credit: Floridians for a Strong Middle Class / YouTube

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

Democrats' mailer contrasts Murphy, Rubio on abortion

@ByKristenMClark

A new direct-mail piece paid for by the Florida Democratic Party seeks to drive home to voters where the state's U.S. Senate candidates stand on abortion.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy -- along with Democratic groups supporting him -- has been making the topic a campaign issue for weeks, seeking to contrast Murphy's pro-choice views with Republican incumbent Marco Rubio's pro-life stance.

In response to the new mailer, Rubio's campaign reiterated its criticism that Murphy has "extreme positions on abortion" -- such as supporting the use of taxpayer money to fund abortions or supporting late-term abortions -- that "put him out of touch with the vast majority of Floridians."

Murphy's campaign has argued Rubio is the one who is out of touch because he opposes a woman's right to choose, including in cases of rape and incest or if the mother is infected with the Zika virus.

The mailer, which started arriving at Florida voters homes this weekend, is going out to "hundreds of thousands" of voters across the state, according to Murphy's campaign.

Here's a look at the mailer:

Planned Parenthood Mailer1

Planned Parenthood Mailer

October 22, 2016

Rubio: Speaking Spanish in 'Spanish-language debate' on Spanish-language network makes sense

Campaign 2016 Florida (5)@ByKristenMClark

Marco Rubio told NBC News' Hallie Jackson on Friday that when he did a debate in English on Univision during his first U.S. Senate race in 2010, the format "didn't work well."

"I had to answer questions in English, and it just didn't work well with the translator. They don't accurately translate my words," the incumbent Republican told Jackson, referring to a debate he had had with his then-opponents, Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek.

So, in his re-election bid this fall, Rubio said he fought for a true Spanish-language debate when Univision invited him and his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy, to face off in front of the Spanish-language network's viewers before Election Day.

"It’s a Spanish-language debate on a Spanish-language network. I speak Spanish," said Rubio, who is Cuban-American.

But Murphy -- a Jupiter congressman who isn't fluent in Spanish -- had his own preference for the format. And after accepting Univison's invitation just last week, Murphy's campaign said it couldn't agree to what the network proposed: a genuine Spanish-language debate in Spanish, as Rubio also wanted.

MORE: No Univision debate for Rubio, Murphy

Univision told the Herald/Times on Friday the proposed debate was canceled because Rubio and Murphy couldn't agree on the language.

It's typical for candidates to jockey for whatever advantage they can when negotiating terms of debates.

Murphy wanted the Univision debate in English and then dubbed, although the campaign billed the event it agreed to as a "Spanish-language" debate. Murphy's campaign said statewide debates on Spanish-language networks have never been done in Spanish and argued that Rubio was asking for unprecedented rules.

Rubio told NBC News that Murphy "didn't want to participate with me speaking in Spanish." (Murphy's campaign told the Herald/Times earlier Friday such a claim was "completely inaccurate.")

Rubio also took a dig at Murphy -- who, although not fluent, has spoken some español in a bevy of Spanish-language ads he's launched this month to court Hispanic voters.

"He just did a commercial in Spanish where he was talking Spanish in it, so I guess he speaks Spanish. He should be willing to do it," Rubio said.

Photo credit: AP

October 21, 2016

Patrick Murphy declines to release tax returns but discloses tax rate

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via @learyreports

Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy will not release his tax returns though his campaign said today his tax rate over the past five years was 32 percent.

That's a departure from the 2010 Senate race, when Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio released theirs, but in line with other Senate contests in Florida.

Murphy has made Donald Trump -- and Rubio's support for the nominee -- a focus of his campaign. Trump has refused to release his returns, saying he is under audit, though there is nothing preventing him from disclosure.

"Since 2011, Patrick has been transparent with the voters, disclosing his income, assets, and liabilities every year in his congressional financial disclosures," Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen said. "Releasing tax returns is what presidential candidates like Marco Rubio do, and it's no surprise he's already gearing up for his next presidential run. Patrick's tax rate over the past 5 years was 32%, and he has always disclosed the details of each investment and asset he owns."

Looking for an edge in 2010, Crist releases his returns going back to 2000 and challenged Rubio to do the same. Rubio obliged and released more as a presidential candidate. His releases are summaries and not the full return, but it does provide a window into his finances.

Photo credit: AP

For Patrick Murphy, a Haitian hotel project was a bust but helped with connections

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via @learyreports

Patrick Murphy’s résumé got fresh attention in Monday night’s debate, with Marco Rubio challenging his CPA history, work on the BP oil spill and college degrees.

Overlooked in the public vetting of Murphy is a chapter that came just before his entrance into politics – one that helps illustrate the 33-year-old’s rapid climb from obscurity to where he stands today, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate.

Following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Murphy joined his father in a hotel venture that was an opportunity for the family construction business amid Florida’s economic downturn.

The $48 million Hotel des Artistes was to be built near the airport in Port-au-Prince on land owned by the WIN Group and the powerful Mevs family.

It failed to get financing but people involved in the project, including Clinton Foundation board member Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster, have contributed to Murphy’s political campaigns.

The money and connections underscore Murphy’s appeal to Democrats as he emerged from nowhere five years ago to become a national fundraising leader who defeated tea party hero Allen West and is now trying to dislodge Rubio.

Continue reading "For Patrick Murphy, a Haitian hotel project was a bust but helped with connections" »

Univision: Spanish-language debate between Rubio, Murphy isn't happening

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@ByKristenMClark

A potential U.S. Senate debate on Univision between Republican incumbent Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy won’t be happening after all, because the two campaigns have seemingly failed to agree to terms for the Miami event.

“The debate was canceled,” Univision spokesman Jose Zamora told the Herald/Times on Friday. He couldn’t immediately elaborate as to why.

Rubio’s campaign alleged Murphy is “blowing off” the event, but Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said the debate is still a possibility and disputed Univision’s statement that it was canceled.

“We’re continuing to work with Univision to make this debate happen,” Karp said, adding that the campaigns were looking at Oct. 28 as a date for it. “We’re talking about the format.”

Although both Rubio and Murphy had accepted invitations for the event, they haven’t finalized negotiations on terms — including in what language the debate would be done.

More here.

Photo credit: AP

After TV ad, Obama also does Spanish-language radio ad for Murphy

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@ByKristenMClark

President Barack Obama has been all-in on raising Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy's still-relatively-limited profile with Florida voters this week.

Obama did a Spanish-language TV ad that was released Wednesday, and today Murphy's campaign released a Spanish-language radio ad that the president did, too.

(Not to mention, on Thursday in person, Obama spent a noticeable portion of his campaign speech at a Hillary Clinton rally in Miami Gardens urging Democrats to help Murphy unseat Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.)

The new radio ad largely mirrors the TV one, but since it's 30 seconds longer, it has a couple additional lines by the president, both highlighting Murphy's character -- while also taking a subtle jab at Rubio:

"He’s a person with integrity that doesn’t abandon his responsibility," Obama says of Murphy in the radio ad.

"I count on Patrick Murphy and want you to do so also," Obama adds.

A narrator also offered this fresh line that wasn't in the TV spot: "Patrick Murphy worked with President Obama on immigration, while Senator Rubio supports Donald Trump."

"Voters know Marco's record of service on behalf of the Hispanic community," Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said, adding that Murphy has "used Dreamers as a talking point in this race"

"Marco is the only candidate who will act as a check and balance on the next president, regardless of who that may be," she said.

Murphy's campaign has aggressively been trying to improve the Jupiter congressman's appeal with Hispanic voters since the campaign hired Miami strategist Freddy Balsera in late September.

Listen to the radio ad here:

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

Photo credit: Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Patrick Murphy's dad also gave another $1M to a Democratic super PAC last month

Murphy_1stdebate_1017_ap@ByKristenMClark

Tom Murphy Jr.'s generous political donations to help his youngest son's U.S. Senate bid keep on coming.

Patrick Murphy's father gave another $1 million to a major Democratic super PAC last month, just 10 days before the group pulled $6 million in planned ads out of Florida as Murphy's campaign struggled to gain ground on Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio in September. (Patrick Murphy is faring better this month, as the race remains a dead-heat but Democrats haven't re-invested the dollars they pulled.)

Tom Murphy's latest major gift to the Senate Majority PAC -- revealed in a new campaign finance disclosure report filed Thursday -- means he's spent at least $2.8 million on Democratic efforts directly supporting Patrick Murphy this cycle.

MORE: "The financial muscle behind Patrick Murphy’s Senate bid: Dad"

It was the second $1 million contribution Tom Murphy made to the Senate Majority PAC since this summer -- and it came on the same day in September he also gave another $250,000 to "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class," a super PAC dedicated to supporting Murphy's Senate campaign.

Earlier this year, Murphy's father previously also gave $500,000 -- through himself and Coastal -- to the pro-Murphy super PAC.

Super PACs can raise unlimited funds but are prohibited from coordinating with candidates' campaigns.

Patrick Murphy has come under scrutiny because of his father's generous support. His former primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, and at least one conservative group have each alleged Tom Murphy's donations constitute illegal coordination between Murphy's campaign and the independent super PACs -- something Murphy's campaign has called a "frivolous and unfounded attack."

Murphy has made campaign finance reform one of his campaign platforms -- saying earlier this year, he "hates" super PACs -- but he hasn't spoken out against his father's six- and seven-figure donations on his behalf. Rather he's expressed gratitude for the support from his father, whom he frequently describes as his "best friend and mentor."

Tom Murphy is the founder, CEO and chairman of Coastal Construction Group, one of the largest construction companies in South Florida. On the campaign trail -- including at a Hillary Clinton rally on Thursday in Miami Gardens -- Murphy often recounts how his father was a union carpenter who never got a college degree and "started his business out of the back of a truck with no guarantee of success." But success Tom Murphy found, turning Coastal into a billion-dollar company that made the family, including Patrick Murphy, millionaires.

Photo credit: AP

October 20, 2016

Murphy emphasizes working families in speech at Miami Gardens rally

@ByKristenMClark & @AmySherman1

Vowing to carry on the legacy President Barack Obama will leave behind, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy told a crowd of Hillary Clinton supporters in Miami-Dade County this afternoon that he and the Democratic presidential nominee would support working families and create an economy "that works for everybody."

"With the future of our economy and our country on the line, who are Republicans trying to elect this November? Marco Rubio and Donald Trump -- seriously?" Murphy said to a chorus of agreeing boos from the crowd waiting to hear Obama campaign for Clinton in Miami Gardens, a predominantly back community.

Murphy was one of several speakers -- and the only one who was white -- who took the stage before Obama arrived at Florida Memorial University this afternoon. Murphy got some cheers from the crowd but didn't seem to fire them up like rest of speakers

Continue reading "Murphy emphasizes working families in speech at Miami Gardens rally" »

Florida Democrats troll Rubio with website for 'inevitable' 2020 presidential bid

@ByKristenMClark

The Florida Democratic Party isn't convinced by Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's gradually more definitive answers this week that he's committed to serving a full term, if re-elected, and has no plans to run for president again in four years.

Democrats launched a new website Thursday for what they call Rubio's "inevitable 2020 presidential campaign." MarcoRubioForPresident.com uses Rubio's old presidential campaign logo and adds the slogan: "2020. OF COURSE."

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“Let's dispel with this fiction that Marco Rubio isn’t fully planning on running for president in 2020,” FDP spokesman Max Steele said in a statement. “After saying ‘like 10000 times’ he would not seek reelection to a job he spent months complaining about, Rubio broke his word yet again."

"Marco Rubio has never let promises get in the way of his unquenchable ambition, and Floridians know he’s not about to start now," Steele said.

Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas called the stunt "just another desperate gimmick after the national Democratic Party abandoned Patrick Murphy and canceled tens of millions of (dollars in) ads it planned to run on his behalf."

Rubio was asked several times during Monday's first U.S. Senate debate if he would commit to another full term if re-elected and whether doing so meant he wouldn't run for president again -- questions to which he's offered noncommittal, vague responses in the past.

He initially responded: “I’m going to serve six years in the Senate, God-willing, and I’m looking forward to it," and then repeated that answer in follow-up questions, evading a definitive "no" answer to a potential 2020 presidential bid.

"You can't be a senator and a president at the same time," he said.

On Tampa Bay radio on Wednesday, Rubio elaborated, saying voters should believe he's committed to another full term "because I said it" -- which led to trolling tweets from Democrats who shared Rubio's famous tweet from May when he specifically shot down the idea of running for re-election to the Senate, only to change his mind about a month later.

“If I wanted to run for something else, I wouldn’t have run for Senate," Rubio told WFLA-AM 970 on Wednesday. "If I were going to run for president in 4 years, I would have just stayed out of this race and started running on Nov. 9th."

Image credit: Florida Democratic Party

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