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: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/14/2747180/mack-campaign-loses-luster-in.html#storylink=cpy


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?

January 12, 2012

Bill Nelson: I raised $1.4 million

From a press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s re-election campaign now has $8.5 million in the bank, with about $1.4 million brought in during the just-ended fourth quarter of last year, the campaign announced today.

In a Facebook posting, the campaign also said the final down-to-the-penny figures were still being tallied for reporting to the FEC by the Jan. 15 deadline.

 “The figures reflect strong support for Sen. Nelson,” Christian Robinson, a campaign representative, said.   “Meantime, the senator remains focused on doing his job for Florida. He’s always believed that if you do your job the politics will take care of itself.”

 At the end of the third quarter, Nelson’s campaign had more money in the bank than any other Democratic U.S. senator up for re-election this year.


Head fake! Connie Mack raises $758k, 50 percent more than initially indicated

A week ago, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack sent out a memo suggesting he raised about $500,000.


Now he reports raising $758k in the fourth quarter. That's about 50 percent more. Good expectations management.

"Last week I said that I believed our campaign would exceed our $500,000 fundraising goal for the fourth quarter. Thanks to you, boy did we ever," campaign manager Jeff Cohen wrote in a memo.

Along with money from his congressional re-election account, Mack reports he has $918,000 in the bank.


January 11, 2012

Rubio opens new Tallahassee digs

Call it a homecoming of sorts.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has opened an office in a city -- and building -- he knows well: the state Capitol.

Office1Having a Tallahassee office will enable Rubio, a former Speaker of the Florida House, to stay in direct contact with state officials, spokesman Alex Conant said Wednesday. Constituents will also be able to swing by for assistance with federal agencies.

Rubio landed the space after seeking help from Gov. Rick Scott last year, Conant said.

"The governor’s staff located the space for us," Conant wrote in an email to The Miami Herald.

The monthly rent is "about $1,300," Conant said. The check goes the Florida House, which Conant said is leasing the office from the state, and subleasing it to Rubio.

Rubio's new digs are on the 21st floor of the Capitol and have a great view of downtown Tallahasee. A copy of the painting Washington Crossing the Delaware is on display in the reception area.

Rubio has other Florida offices in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Naples, Jacksonville and Pensacola.

His counterpart in the U.S. Senate, Democrat Bill Nelson, has a Tallahassee office in the federal courthouse.