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September 25, 2015

'Outraged' Marco Rubio says Debbie Wasserman Schultz attack over fundraiser a sign of Democratic 'panic'


via @learyreports

Marco Rubio decried on Fox News Thursday night an attack from Debbie Wasserman Schultz over attending a fundraiser at the home of a man who owns Hitler paintings.

“I was outraged,” Rubio told Bill O’Reilly, who opened his show by condemning Wasserman Schultz.

Rubio said it was a sign Democrats are in a “panic” over the struggles Hillary Clinton has faced. And he pointed out that Wasserman Schultz is in favor of the Iran nuclear deal, suggesting she betrayed her own Jewish people.

The fundraiser was Tuesday at the Dallas home Harlan Crowwho has an extensive collection of historical items, including the Hilter-created art. Noting the event came on Yom Kippur, Wasserman Schultz said, “There’s really no excuse for such a gross act of disrespect.”

A number of outlets lashed out at Wasserman Schultz’s attack as pathetic.

O’Reilly also asked Rubio about Trump and Rubio said his adversary lacks foreign policy knowledge, or knowledge of any policy in general.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

September 24, 2015

Sen. Nancy Detert won't run for reelection in 2016

@MichaelAuslen and @MaryEllenKlas

Sen. Nancy Detert will step down from the Legislature in 2016, confirming speculation that she will instead seek a seat on the Sarasota County Commission.

The decision, reported Thursday evening by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, means that the Venice Republican will leave the Legislature two years before she faces term limits in 2018. But it’s a move that’s been widely anticipated as three Republicans are already vying to take her place: former Sarasota mayor Nora Patterson, Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, and former Rep. Doug Holder, R-Osprey. Rep. Ray Pilon was in the mix as well but decided to seek another term in the House instead.

Detert’s decision not to run in 2016 plays into an already volatile power struggle as Sens. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, battle for the Senate presidency in 2016-2018. Detert has long been a staunch Latvala ally.

Negron announced last month that he has enough pledged votes to be president. But the whole race will be upended by the Senate redistricting special session next month and other sitting lawmakers’ decisions to step out of the race. Holder said he has signed a pledge card for Negron "some time ago" and expects "a very competitive race" with Patterson, whom he has worked with and considers a friend. Steube would support Negron, as well.

"We have very different political views and about the direction of where the Republican Party should go,'' Holder said. 

Patterson's allegiances are unknown. Although Latvala said Thursday night he will not confirm which candidates have pledged their votes to him, he is throwing his support behind Patterson in the race to replace Detert.

Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, says Detert stepping down is a likely point in the Negron column. Senate leadership has scheduled a presidential designation ceremony for Negron at 2 p.m. on Dec. 2.

First elected to the Senate in 2008 after an eight-year term in the House from 1998-2006, Detert is an outspoken moderate Republican who supports women’s right to have an abortion and plays an important role in economic development policy. She sits on the board of Enterprise Florida but has been a critic of how the economic-development and jobs agency spends money.

House map drawer defends base map, saying he 'had no idea' it helped Curbelo

Jason PoredaThe lead map-drawer for the Florida House told a Leon County Circuit Court on Thursday that he did not know that they were moving black communities out of U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo's district when they were drawing the Legislature's base map.

Jason Poreda, staff director of the House Select Committee on Redistricting said "I had no idea" that he was shifting a community dominated by Democrats out of the district in a way that challengers argue made it more favorable to a Republican. 

Plaintiffs allege that the map was drawn in a way to help Curbelo win re-election by moving three African-American communities -- West Perrine, Palmetto Estates and Richmond Heights -- from his District 26 and into U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen's District 27, because she was a stronger incumbent.

Poreda testified the change was made to follow the Florida Turnpike and pick up population in order to abide by the Florida Supreme Court ruling that rejected a previous map that split the City of Homestead.

Continue reading "House map drawer defends base map, saying he 'had no idea' it helped Curbelo" »

Commission candidate calls self 'Queen of Miami'


Grace Solares is campaigning to claim Miami's District 2 commission seat, a powerful position that oversees the city's financial center and important waterfront assets. And she is nothing if not confident.

Check out the audio below of Solares referring to herself during a public meeting last week as the "Queen of Miami."

Download Sunshine Meeting - Introductions - 2015-09-17 (1)

Update: Solares' consultant, Christian Ulvert, sent the following statement:

"There is no doubt that Grace Solares is the queen of good government and holding city hall accountable. She is known among community advocates as a longtime champion of city residents and our neighborhoods. She made in jest an introduction to soften the mood in a community meeting and followed up her introduction as president of the Urban Environment League.”

Donald Trump: Marco Rubio is a 'kid.' Rubio: Trump is 'touchy and insecure'


Donald Trump unloaded on Marco Rubio -- who he now apparently considers a threat -- in a speech Wednesday and on CNN on Thursday. In the CNN interview, Trump, 69, referred to Rubio, 44, as "a kid."

"He shouldn't running in this race as far as I'm concerned," Trump said.

Rubio then spoke to Kentucky Sports Radio and poked Trump back.

"He takes shot at eveyrbody that gets anywhere close to him in terms of a pol,l or anytime he hits a rough spot -- that's what he does," Rubio said. "He had a really bad debate performance last week -- he's not well-informed on the issues, he really never talks about issues and can't have more than a 10-second sound bite on any key issue -- and so I think he's kind of been exposed a little bit over the past 7 days. And he's a very touchy and insecure guy, and so that's how he reacts -- and people can see through it."

Fact-checking Ben Carson's claims about vaccines

Presidential candidate Ben Carson drew fire for statements he made about vaccines during the CNN GOP primary debate.

PolitiFact has fact-checked two claims by Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon who now lives in West Palm Beach.

Carson said that  there is a "multitude" of vaccines for diseases that are not deadly or disabling.The diseases targeted by the vaccines recommended for children on a set schedule, however, are nearly universally lethal. The one obvious exception, rubella, is a disfiguring disease that can lead to birth defects. PolitiFact Georgia rated this statement False.

Carson also said pediatricians have cut down on the number and proximity of vaccines because they recognize there have been "too many in too short a period of time."

Leading medical organizations have concluded that the scheduling of vaccines -- including multiple ones at once -- is safe. While there is evidence that some parents ask pediatricians to delay vaccines, that’s a decision based on parents’ wishes and isn’t based on scientific evidence. PolitiFact Florida rated this claim Pants on Fire.

Here is Carson’s full Truth-O-Meter record from PolitiFact.

Prosecutor Meggs backs Gannett papers' anti-corruption effort

Long-time Tallahassee state prosecutor Willie Meggs is throwing his support behind a tougher anti-corruption law being championed by his hometown newspaper that's part of the Gannett chain in Florida.

The Tallahassee Democrat, one of four Gannett dailies in the state, reports that Meggs supports proposed legislation that would expand the definition of public servant so that vendors and contractors who get public money could be prosecuted for bid tampering and other crimes. The change was recommended five years ago by a statewide grand jury. 

Meggs, 72, a Democrat, has been the state attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit since 1985. He has announced that he will not seek re-election to an eighth term next year.

On its news sites, Gannett has a lengthy video that calls for a reduction in what it calls "Florida's 'corruption tax.'" The video cites a series of cases in cities where the news giant publishes Florida dailies, including Tallahassee, Fort Myers, Pensacola and Melbourne.

The proposed fix is referred to by Gannett as the Misuse of Public Office Act of 2015, but the legislation has not yet been filed for the upcoming session.  Gannett Sun Coast Newspaper Group, based in Melbourne where Florida Today is published, has for many years employed Guy Spearman III as its Tallahassee lobbyist.

Unregistered lobbyist arranged for 3 ineligible candidates to run in Miami-Dade County

via @DavidOvalle305

A political operative surrendered to face criminal charges Tuesday after prosecutors said he manipulated elections for community councils in Southwest Miami-Dade.

David Alberto Carcache, 34, was charged with falsifying records, aiding and abetting an elections-code violation and false swearing.

According to prosecutors, the unregistered lobbyist Carcache arranged for three candidates to run for community councils in Kendall and West Kendall, even though they did not live in the neighborhoods and were not eligible to run.

He is alleged to have prepared bogus qualifying documents and maintained control over the candidates’ email accounts. He also submitted fraudulent campaign financial records, prosecutors said.

Thousands of dollars in campaign expenses were also paid in checks or money orders payable to Carcache’s sister and mother, according to prosecutors.

Two candidates, Mauricio Rodriguez-Varela and Daniel Diaz, won their elections in August 2014. They resigned because of the investigation. A third candidate, Jesus Antonio Salas, withdrew from the election before voters went to the polls.

More here.

Al Gore to speak in Miami Beach about climate change


Former Vice President Al Gore will be open a climate conference Monday in the city perhaps most identified with the threat of rising seas due to global warming: Miami Beach.

Gore, author of An Inconvenient Truth, founded The Climate Reality Project, which organized the three-day "leadership corps training" conference. It will focus on climate issues specific to Florida, including the role the Latino community plays in pushing for actions related to the environment.

The former vice president's presentation, titled "The Climate Crisis and its Solutions," is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Monday.

Redistricting trial opens with Miami's districts at the heart of differences

Lewis 924

Allegations were flying in a Tallahassee courtroom Thursday as a three-day hearing into the latest congressional redistricting map began with lawyers for the Republican-led Legislature accusing challengers of drawing maps “in the dark,” Congressman Dan Webster tried and failed to “get a seat at the table” and three black communities in Miami-Dade County emerged as ground zero for differences over the final map.

“I have no fear that if we deal with the merits in this case we will satisfy the court,” said David King, lawyer for the League of Women Voters and Common Cause, which successfully challenged the Legislature’s 2012 congressional map that has forced the issue back to court.

Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis must now decide among seven different maps to recommend to the Florida Supreme Court, which invalidated the Legislature’s map because it was drawn with “improper partisan intent” and violated the constitutional ban on protecting incumbents and political parties.

Lewis must have his recommendation to the Supreme Court by Oct. 17 and ordered lawyers to have their proposed language to him by Oct. 2.

Although Republicans have been united in their defense of their maps until now, the arguments before the court revealed a broadening divide between Republicans in the two chambers — and a harbinger of the fight ahead over the redrawing of the Senate map in October. The House argues that its map, drawn by three Republican legislative staffers as a base for the discussion, is the purer one and devoid of any partisan intent.

Continue reading "Redistricting trial opens with Miami's districts at the heart of differences" »