July 06, 2016

Miami gunfire victim, others push Congress to pass controls

@jamesmartinrose

Gun violence victims from Miami and other cities rallied outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday and demanded that Congress act on pending legislation to limit firearms sales in the wake of the Orlando massacre last month.

Wearing orange T-shirts to commemorate the 49 people murdered in Orlando and others shot to death, the activists heard rousing remarks from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Lewis trying to continue the momentum for gun controls sparked by an unusual overnight sit-in the civil rights icon led on the House floor two weeks ago.

“The American public deserves so much more from our nation’s leaders than constant arguing,” Antwan Reeves, a Miami-Dade Schools employee who survived an automatic-rifle attack on him and his cousin in Miami Gardens last November, told reporters and spectators at the rally.

Saying “it’s a miracle that I’m here today,” Reeves told a riveting story of how he and his cousin, St. Louis Rams receiver Stedman Bailey, were sprayed with gunfire Nov. 24 while they sat in a car at Northwest 199th Street and 38th Place. Another vehicle pulled up alongside them, and an occupant opened fire as Reeves shielded two of his children in the backseat of their car.

Reeves took 11 bullets while Bailey was shot twice in the head, but both men survived after Reeves somehow drove to Aventura Hospital and Medical Center and each underwent emergency surgery.

“The weapons used during that night of madness left behind 40 shell casings,” Reeves said at Wednesday’s demonstration. “These types of weapons should not be in possession of ordinary citizens.”

Rep. Frederica Wilson, Reeves’ representative in the House, also attended the protest.

“We’re going to need the American public and pressure from the people of this nation to help us in this battle,” Wilson told reporters after the rally.

She added: “I am tired of burying little black boys (in my community), and I even have a foundation set aside to pay for their funerals. So we’re going to fight. I’ve been in this battle for a long time, and I do not intend to give up now.”

Since the June 12 tragedy in Orlando, Republicans who control the Senate and the House have blocked mainly Democratic efforts to pass “No Fly, No Buy” legislation that would make it more difficult for people on FBI terror watch lists to purchase guns.

Reps. Carlos Curbelo of Miami-Dade and David Jolly of Indian Shores, Fla., are among a small number of Republicans who have broken with their party and pushed for those limited controls.

May 16, 2016

Rep. Wilson to chair hearing on helping young people of color

@jamesmartinrose

Rep. Frederica Wilson on Tuesday will bring together lawmakers and youth experts from Florida and beyond for a congressional forum on expanding opportunities for black and Latino young people.

Michael Smith, special assistant to President Barack Obama and head of the White House My Brother's Keeper program, will moderate the forum. Wilson will be joined by Arnaldo Gonzalez, Miami-Dade Schools chief of growth and development, and education leaders from North Carolina, Virginia and other states.

Also speaking will be Albert Dotson Jr., a board member of 100 Black Men of America who helps run the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

"As the founder of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, an in-school dropout prevention and mentoring program, I have experienced firsthand the powerful influence that a caring adult can have on a young person's life," Wilson, a third-term Democrat from Miami Gardens, said.

In February, Wilson helped launch the Congressional My Brother's Keeper Caucus. It now has 18 members, among them Rep. Alcee Hastings of Miramar; South Carolina's Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat; and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.

When he started the My Brother's Keeper mentoring program in 2014, Obama drew criticism from some advocacy groups for excluding young women and girls. Wilson's hearing Tuesday will focus on expanding opportunities for male and female people of color.

 

 

 

 

April 08, 2016

DNC chief Wasserman Schultz to Bernie and Hillary: Chill

@jamesmartinrose

With most political enthusiasts' attention riveted on the divisive GOP presidential race, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is urging the Democratic White House hopefuls to tone down their rhetoric.

Wasserman Schultz, who lives in Weston when she isn't in Washington or traveling the country as head of the Democratic National Committee, was asked about the increasingly sharp attacks against each other in recent days by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

"I think both campaigns really need to be careful about making sure that we don't do lasting damage," Wasserman Schultz told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" program Friday morning. "I don't think we're at that point, but I think it is important to be careful that at the end of the primary process, when we have a presumptive nominee, that we're able to easily reunify."

In advance of the April 19 primary in New York, which Clinton represented for six years as a U.S. senator before heading the State Department, Clinton has challenged Sanders' allegiance to the Democratic Party and questioned his preparedness to be president.

On Wednesday, Clinton told MSNBC that Sanders "himself doesn't consider himself to be a Democrat." Sanders, who lists his party for Senate votes as Independent but caucuses with Democrats, has at various times in his career described himself as a Socialist or a Democratic Socialist.

Clinton also criticized Sanders' repeated presidential campaign calls to break up big banks, again comparing her record as a pragmatist who gets things done.

"You can't really help people if you don't know how to do what you are campaigning on saying you want to do," Clinton said.

Sanders responded that night at a rally in Philadelphia.

"She has been saying lately that she thinks I am quote-unquote 'not qualified to be president,'" Sanders declared. "Let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton, I don't believe that she is qualified if she is, though her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special-interest funds. I don't think you are qualified if you have voted for the disastrous war in Iraq. I don't think you are qualified if you support the Panama free trade agreement."

Clinton didn't actually say the phrase Sanders attributed to her about his lack of qualifications, but that phrase or similar ones ran in headlines in some news accounts of her comments.

Despite the sharp exchanges, Wasserman Schultz said it doesn't compare to "the food fight and the civil war that continues to rage on the Republican side."

Wasserman Schultz, who some Sanders supporters have accused of favoring Clinton in the Democratic race, also said that Clinton and then-Sen. Barack Obama had a more hard-hitting contest in their presidential primary campaign in 2008.

"Right now I would characterize the tenor and tone of this party to be nothing like the intensity of where we (Democrats) were eight years ago in 2008 between then-Sens. Clinton and Obama," she said.

After Obama gained the Democratic nomination in that primary race and then defeated Sen. John McCain to gain the White House, he chose Clinton as secretary of state. The two established a close relationship, and she has been trumpeting his achievements during her current run.

On the Republican side, billionaire businessman Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz have been engaged in a nasty war of words for weeks, with the fight intensifying two weeks ago when the Republican front-runner tweeted an unflattering photograph of Cruz's wife Heidi Cruz.

 

 

 

 

March 18, 2016

South Florida Republicans break with GOP in deportation vote

@jamesmartinrose

Only five Republican lawmakers stood up to their party leader in voting against allowing House Speaker Paul Ryan to file an amicus brief opposing President Barack Obama's decision to withhold deportation for more than 5 million undocumented immigrants.

All three Cuban-American representatives from South Florida -- Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Marco Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo -- were among the five Republicans who voted against a resolution that the House passed Thursday almost entirely along party lines.

The Supreme Court next month will hear a case brought by Texas, joined by Florida and 24 other states, arguing that Obama's bid to shield about 5.2 million illegal aliens from deportation imposes unaffordable health-care, education, law-enforcement and other costs on them.

Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who replaced Ohioan John Boehner as speaker in October, acknowledged that House intervention in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court was unprecedented, but he insisted it was necessary to prevent executive overreach by Obama.

With no Democrats voting for the bill, Ryan and other Republicans said Obama's executive orders dating to 2012 amount to the president legislating immigration reform without going through Congress.

"I recognize that this is a very extraordinary step," Ryan said on the House floor. "I feel it is very necessary, though. In fact, I believe this is vital."

In a joint statement Friday, Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart said that although individual members of Congress have the right to file briefs supporting court cases, the House as a whole should not do so.

"All amicus briefs should carry the same weight, and beginning this pattern may signal to the Supreme Court that Congress is prioritizing certain cases over others," the two Miami Republicans said.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a first-term Republican from Kendall, went further. He accused Republicans of playing politics with the important issue of immigration.

"For two long, both parties have preferred to score petty political points using the immigration issue rather than passing meaningful reform to secure the border, reform our visa system and find a fair solution for the undocumented," Curbelo said.

"The surest and most constitutionally solvent way to end the president's executive overreach is to pass meaningful immigration reform, not by employing empty tactics that ignore the root cause of the problem," he said.

The two other Republicans who voted against the House resolution were Reps. Richard Hanna of New York and Robert Dold of Illinois. Rep. Alex Mooney, a West Virginia Republican and one of five other Cuban-Americans in Congress, voted for the measure, which passed by a 234-186 margin.

Among Florida's 24 other U.S. House members, 22 voted along party lines, with Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel and Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan failing to vote.

Nine other Florida Democrats voted against the measure, among them Reps. Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, who is chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Two lower courts have ruled in favor of the states, most recently the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans.

With only eight justices on the Supreme Court since Justice Antonin Scalia's death last month, a 4-4 decision after the scheduled April 18 arguments would uphold the lower courts' rulings and overturn Obama's executive orders protecting millions of undocumented parents and their children from deportation.

Obama on Wednesday chose Merrick Garland, a former federal prosecutor and current judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, to replace Scalia on the high court, but Senate Republican leaders are refusing to take a vote or even hold hearings on the nomination, saying Obama has only 10 months left in office.

Immigration has become perhaps the most divisive issue in the presidential campaign, with Republican front-runner Donald Trump vowing to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat of Puerto Rican descent, ridiculed Republican lawmakers, many of whom he said have disingenuously tried to distance themselves from Trump's hardline stance on immigration.

"They keep saying, 'Well, Trump doesn't represent us, he doesn't (represent) our views, he doesn't represent our values,' and now they want to know where Trump gets all of his anti-immigrant, xenophobic views from," Gutierrez told reporters. "Try the House of Republicans."

In a speech Friday on the House floor, Gutierrez accused his Republican colleagues of "stoking anti-immigrant fears and mass-deportation fantasies."

"The vote is a political stunt disguised as a legal brief because the Republican majority sees a crass political opportunity to stand with the anti-immigration wing of their party," he said.  

The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and 60 individual business leaders, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, filed an amicus brief supporting Obama last week.

Before the vote Thursday, Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez, head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said "the Latino community is being used for political purposes."

Sanchez added: "We are being demonized, we are being marginalized, and we see a frightening level of hateful rhetoric and vile hate speech aimed at our community, and nobody is standing up within the Republican Party to say that this is unacceptable."

America's Voice, a pro-immigration advocacy group, said the vote Thursday was the eighth "anti-immigration" vote taken by Republicans in the current session of Congress.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 223 other Democrats filed an amicus brief backing Obama earlier this month, but there was no vote on the brief and it represents them as individuals.

In still another amicus brief, almost 120 cities and counties across the United States on March 8 expressed support for Obama, among them Pembroke Pines, Tampa and Sunrise.

 

November 25, 2014

The 2014 governor's race votes and ad spending by Florida media market

@MarcACaputo

The race for Florida governor was officially certified last week, so now we have final numbers. By our estimate, more than $103 million was spent on TV ads since March. 

All told, 6,026,802 Floridians cast ballots. Of them, about 53 percent voted early in person or by absentee ballot (1,878,537 absentees + 1,309,198 early votes = 3,187,735).

More people voted in the governor's race than any other contest: 5,951,561. Scott received 2,865,343 votes to Crist's 2,801,198. That's 48.14 percent to 47.07, a margin of 1.08 percent, or 64,145.

Scott's raw-vote margin was 4.2 percent bigger than in 2010, when his margin was 61,550 over Democrat Alex Sink. On a percentage basis, though, Scott did worse than in 2010, when his win-margin was 1.2 percentage points (the overall number of people voting in the governor's race grew 11 percent since 2010).

Here's how the 2014 votes broke down by media market, along with the ad spending:

Florida votes & ad spending

 

 

 

November 04, 2014

South Florida's light voting great for Rick Scott, bad for Charlie Crist. But indies might save the Dem

@MarcACaputo

As the polls are about to close, Gov. Rick Scott's team should be feeling a little more confident because Democrat-rich South Florida is doing what it does in midterms: not voting in strong numbers.

Miami-Dade is reporting that 183,000 people had voted as of 6 p.m. on Election Day. Add that to the 293,000 who had absentee and early voted, and the county's turnout was just under 37 percent with one hour to go. 

Broward County might be in a similar position.

As of 3:15 p.m., when turnout gets slowest, Broward County reported Election Day turnout at 136,000. That was on top of 248,000 who had voted before Election Day by early and absentee ballot. And that puts turnout at roughly 36 percent.

In a sign of desperation, Charlie Crist’s campaign just issued a press release saying it wants the polls to stay open longer in Broward. It claims, among other things, that voters were turned away at the polls due to re-precincting. Miami Herald reporters found signs of this, but they weren't widespread.  Download Crist motion for polls to stay open.

Considering overall state turnout could be at 49 percent, this could signify higher performance by Republican counties and Republican voters. And thus, a likelier Scott win.

Here's what we reported in April about South Florida turnout:

Year after year, voters in the Democratic region are among the state’s worst when it comes to showing up at the polls. It was most glaring in 2010 when Scott won office and statewide voter turnout was a meager 49 percent.

The turnout in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties was worse: about 41, 40 and 47 percent, respectively. If those three counties had voted at the state average, Democrat Alex Sink likely would have beaten Scott by nearly 250,000 votes statewide. Instead, Sink lost by 61,550 votes.

Crist vows that won’t happen again.

Crist's campaign said it's hammering South Florida voters to get them out, but the reporters we have at the polls aren't seeing much action.

Our freelancer Theo Karantsalis reports light turnout in Liberty City, an African-American area. And he just encountered a voter who's..... voting for Scott.

The Caleb Center, which drew hundreds of Souls to the Polls churchgoers on Sunday, was open for early voting only.

Voters continue to park near the Caleb Center and carefully walk across busy NW 54th Street to cast ballots at the Mildred and Claude Pepper Towers.

"I came out in the cold and dark to vote for a republican," said Shirley Smith, 47, an African-American from Liberty City, who voted the republican ticket in the 2010 and 2012 elections. "I am so tired of people thinking the government owes them something."

Smith, who first looked to see if anyone was listening, then added: "I know I am the minority around here, but my vote counts even if it's different."

There is no line and few people at the neighborhood polling site located in the 2300 block of NW 54th Street. Polls close at 7 p.m.

This doesn't mean Crist has lost and that Scott has won. Not by a longshot. One analyst said the story of the night might be independents, who are leaning Crist. 

In Pasco, Pinellas, and Hernando counties in the Tampa Bay region, independent voters are coming out in droves, respectively: 22, 23 and 20 percent.

Even in GOP-rich Collier Countty, Rick Scott's home base, 20 percent of the voters are independents.

Republicans are boasting that they have more supervoters (those who voted in 4 of 4 elections, known as 4/4) to come out. But Democrats note that they're turning out more infrequent voters. Here's one Democrats' analysis:

As of end of the day yesterday, 31.0% of Democrats who had cast a ballot didn't vote in 2010, 43.4% of IND/NPA, 22.7% of Republicans. Dems have very nearly 80K more people who have cast ballots that DIDN'T vote in 2010 than Republicans.

On the other end of things, Dems have 54.2% of their 2/2s (and 49.3% of 4/4s) who had not yet voted as of COB yesterday; those numbers are remarkably similar for Reps: 53.7% of 2/2 and 49.5% of 4/4.

But, as GOP consultant Marc Reichelderfer told Adam Smith at the Tampa Bay Times, Republicans have more reliable Republicans voting:

"What I'm looking at is how many 4/4 voters and how many 3/4 voters are still out there waiting to vote," said Reichelderfer, suggesting that the Republicans and Democrats are roughly equal on 3/4 voters.

Add that 130,000 almost certain 4/4 votes today to the roughly 100,000 early and absentee vote advantage Republicans had going into today, and the 230,000 GOP lead looks tough to crack barring an massive Democratic turnout operation, he said.

After the 2010 cycles, elections officials cleaned up their lists of voters automatically receiving absentee ballots. The result, Reichelderfer said, that that many formerly consistent Republican mail voters have been shifted to election day voters, while the Obama campaign in 2012 shifted many of its most reliable election day voters to mail voters.

Poll averages: Race deadlocked, Scott could lead Crist by 0.6% pre-Election Day ballots

@MarcACaputo

Heading into Election Day, Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist are tied at 42 percent each, according to the averages of 20 public polls released in October, when absentee-ballot and then in-person early voting began.*

Technically, Scott has a lead of .07 percentage points (42.03 to Crist's 41.96). That's not really a lead at all. Assuming the undecideds don't vote, Scott gets 45.9 percent to Crist's 45.8. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie could pull 8 percent of the vote, about the same percentage as the undecided, who are an X-factor in all of this.**

Unlike prior poll-unskewing attempts, this exercise uses polls taken as people were casting pre-Election Day ballots, 3.1 million as of this morning. The GOP led Democrats in ballots cast by 98,000, 43-39 percent (3.3 percentage points). But independents account for about 18 percent of those voters, and they're leaning Crist by an average of about 6 percentage points.

Put it all together, and Scott's lead in early votes is 42.6 percent to Crist's 42 percent.

That's a 0.6 percentage-point lead.

That's not much of a lead at all, considering Democrats have a registered voter edge of about 455,000 over Republicans (obviously, not all vote). Scott's lead could be higher or lower because this analysis includes the undecided. Take out the undecided, Scott's lead remains at 0.6 percent.

Still, a lead is a lead.

What does Crist need to do to have a real shot at wining under this scenario? Have Democrats today turnout by 2 percentage points more than Republicans (assuming there's 49 percent turnout). Democrats would need to cast 42 percent of the Election Day ballots, Republicans 40 percent and independents 18 percent. If that happens, Republicans would still wind up casting slightly more overall votes in the election (including early and absentee ballots).

Possible? Yes. 

Probable? Not judging by history. 

Continue reading "Poll averages: Race deadlocked, Scott could lead Crist by 0.6% pre-Election Day ballots" »

As polls open, 3.1m already voted; Dems cut GOP early ballot lead to 98k, 3.3%

@MarcACaputo

Regardless of who wins or loses or if there's a recount, this is the last tally of pre-Election Day ballots and, like the others, it's good news bad news for both sides.

First the overall picture: as of Election Day morning, more than 3.1 million people had voted. That's probably more than half of the likely voters in this election (assuming a turnout of 49 or 50 percent).

Republicans go into Election Day with a lead in early and absentee ballots of about 98,401 ballots, 3.2 percentage points. Yesterday, the GOP lead was 100,583, or 3.3 points.

Since the GOP trails Democrats in registered voters by about 455,000, that's the great news for them. It's also far better than the 155,000 early-ballot deficit the GOP faced in 2012, when President Obama won by about 1 percentage point.

The bad news for the GOP: it's a far smaller lead than the 277,000 early ballot lead they held in the last midterm election, 2010, when Rick Scott was dragged to shore on a red wave of conservatism.

And Democrats' absente-ballot return rate has been proportionately increasing. So the absentee ballots that flow in today won't give the GOP a major boost. If this morning's numbers are any indication, it will add a net 2,000 votes to the GOP lead, putting it back at 100,000. But, since in-person early voting stopped Sunday, the Democrats didn't get to make any more large gains before Election Day.

What effects will independents have? They're about 18 percent of the early and absentee vote. Most polls indicate they're trending toward Democrat Charlie Crist. Will it be enough? What effect will Florida's medical-marijuana initiative (still popular, but failing to hit the needed 60 percent in most recent polls) have on Crist (who supports it, while Scott opposes it)? Then there's NextGen Climate, the liberal group that has raised about $16 million to hurt Scott and help Crist.

And don't forget one of the most important elections forecasting data points: the actual weather forecast. It rained in liberal-leaning Palm Beach and Broward counties this morning. It's blustery in liberal-leaning Miami-Dade. These counties have underperformed in turnout and, if there's a repeat, that's bad for Crist and great for Scott. A little bit of rain is enough to keep already flakey voters home.

Here are prior Florida Voters posts and today's early vote and absentee ballot numbers:

PARTY          EV           %
REP         518,499 39.6%
DEM         555,473 42.4%
IND         235,226 18.0%
TOTAL       1,309,198  
     
     
PARTY          AB's            %
REP         807,137 0.44864
DEM         671,762 0.373393
IND         320,175 0.177967
TOTAL       1,799,074  
     
     
PARTY       EVAB            %
REP       1,325,636 42.6%
DEM       1,227,235 39.5%
IND         555,401 17.9%
TOTAL       3,108,272  

November 03, 2014

Souls to the Polls gives Dems major boost, close early vote gap to 100k

@MarcACaputo

Looks like Souls to the Polls was a success after all.*

In just one day of early in-person voting, Democrats took a major bite out of the GOP's pre-Election Day ballot lead, which now stands at slightly more than 100,000. That's an improvement of more than 26,000 ballots in Democrats' favor.

As of this afternoon, the GOP's margin over Democrats was 100,583, or 3.3 percentage points. Yesterday, after all the data was uploaded to the state's system, the GOP lead was 126,652, or 4.3 percentage points.

So the answer to the question about whether Souls to the Polls was a boom or bust for Crist is clear: It's a boom. As more evidence of that, Gov. Rick Scott's campaign issued another early vote memo that failed to mention the mammoth Democratic gains.

Nevertheless, a 100,000-vote margin is big. But with an advantage of more than 455,000 registered voters over Republicans, Democrats can make up that margin on Election Day. The big question: Will they?

Here are the numbers:

PARTY          EV           %
REP         518,499 39.6%
DEM         555,473 42.4%
IND         235,226 18.0%
TOTAL       1,309,198  
     
     
PARTY          AB's            %
REP         785,928 45.1%
DEM         648,371 37.2%
IND         308,360 17.7%
TOTAL       1,742,659  
     
     
PARTY       EVAB            %
REP       1,304,427 42.7%
DEM       1,203,844 39.4%
IND         543,586 17.8%
TOTAL       3,051,857  

This post has been updated with final numbers from the 67 election supervisors. 

Poll-prediction guru Nate Silver gives Charlie Crist a "slight" 60% chance of winning

@MarcACaputo

Missed this a few days ago: Nate Silver, who accurately forecast the 2012 elections (including Florida) is out with a batch of predictions and, despite the tied polling and the GOP's lead in banking pre-Election Day votes in the Sunshine State, his data show the Democrat is more likely to win the governor's race.

From Five Thirty Eight:

Charlie Crist of Florida, the former Republican turned Democrat, is just slightly more likely than not to oust Republican Gov. Rick Scott from office. A slightly safer bet for a Democratic pickup is in Kansas, where Paul Davis has a 81 percent chance of beating Republican incumbent Sam Brownback.

Silver's chart shows Crist's chances of winning at 60 percent. More here