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June 20, 2016

Joe Garcia forgoes TV ads, for now, in Miami Congressional race


Former Congressman Joe Garcia isn't hitting the airwaves anytime soon. The Democrat, who is running for his old 26th District seat in South Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys, is focused on saving funds for a potential general election matchup with Republican Carlos Curbelo.

"At some point we may look at doing television advertising," Garcia said. "Last time, the Koch Brothers and company spent almost $7 million attacking me and I have no doubt they will be back again."

The 26th District race promises to be one of the most expensive in the country, and Garcia appears to be saving resources instead of spending on his primary campaign with Annette Taddeo. The district was redrawn prior to this year's election and is seen as a prime pickup target for House Democrats.

"This is a district that's been redesigned on three separate occasions to try to keep me from winning," Garcia said.

Garcia represented the district for one term before losing to Curbelo.

Taddeo trails in the polls and must build her name recognition with voters before the August 30th primary. She has endorsements from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, EMILY's List and the AFL-CIO.

"If Washington knew how to win elections we would have a Congress that's Democratic," Garcia said in response to the DCCC's endorsement of Taddeo. "While it's very nice to be running for Congress for a year and a half, it's not my polls that say I'm winning."

Garcia chose not to highlight any policy differences with Taddeo, who recently touted her progressive stance on the Cuban embargo.

"I understand she wants to create a distinction and I'm sure I could too but its not worth it," Garcia said.

Garcia pointed out his long-term friendship between himself and Taddeo, stating that he attended fundraisers at Taddeo's house and that they have endorsed each other in previous elections before this year's primary.  

He saved his sharpest criticism for Curbelo.

"Mr. Curbelo opposed DACA and now he is for it, or at least not going to oppose it," Garcia said. "This is a guy who opposes Obamacare and voted to shut it down on every single occasion, yet his district is one of the ones that has benefited the most in the country with healthcare."

Republican, Democratic fields take shape for Florida U.S. Senate race


@ByKristenMClark & @MichaelAuslen

Three main contenders for Florida's U.S. Senate seat have officially secured their positions on the party ballots, and a couple newcomers also staked a claim in the race as the qualifying period for Florida's August primary elections began today.

Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republicans Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox all pre-filed their paperwork -- along with a $10,440 check -- earlier this month to qualify for the ballot.

Several other candidates actively campaigning have yet to file -- including several Republicans, and Democrats Alan Grayson and Pam Keith. They have until noon Friday to do so.

The Republican field remains largely in limbo, as uncertainty swirls about whether Sen. Marco Rubio will seek re-election despite promising during his presidential campaign that he would leave the Senate if he lost the March presidential primary.

Rubio has signaled for several weeks a growing change of heart and said last week, in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, that he was re-considering his pledge to become a private citizen again in 2017. He had said he would take this past weekend to consider his options.

Until he announces his plans, other Republican candidates appear to be biding their time. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, had not filed to qualify, as of this afternoon.

Lopez-Cantera, a close friend of Rubio, said he will step aside if the senator runs again. DeSantis has hinted that he also may leave the race if Rubio runs. U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, announced Friday that he will seek re-election to his congressional seat, rather than continuing his Senate campaign.

Meanwhile, the Democratic field grew more crowded with two previously unknown contenders qualifying: Jacksonville attorney Reginald Luster and real estate developer "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente, who still has an active presidential campaign based in San Diego.

Continue reading "Republican, Democratic fields take shape for Florida U.S. Senate race" »

Beruff digs into campaign as Rubio decision looms

While the rest of the Republican Party braces for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's potential re-entry in the Senate race, Republican Carlos Beruff is putting more money into television ads, still touring the state, and taking a few swipes at Rubio.

Beruff's campaign has already said they won't back out of the race if Rubio gets in. Now, to prove that point his campaign has put another $300,000 into TV advertising over the next two weeks, planning campaign stops in Panama City later this week, and his campaign put out a statement warning that they will question Rubio's commitment to being in the Senate if he changes his mind and does seek re-election.

Chris Hartline, campaign spokesman for Beruff, in a statement said they will frame the race as Beruff, a guy with real world experience, versus Rubio, a "career politician."

"The most important question for Marco Rubio to think about today as he decides whether to run for reelection: Are you willing to look the voters of Florida in the eye and commit to serving out an entire 6-year term in the U.S. Senate? Do you commit to not running for President in 2020? Do you pledge to truly serve the people of Florida by showing up to work and not missing votes or committee hearings," Hartline said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, has already dropped out of the Senate race, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is likely to follow suit if Rubio jumps into the race. But Beruff and Todd Wilcox have both said they are ready to battle Rubio for the Republican nomination. During a campaign stop in Tallahassee last week, Wilcox noted that Rubio lost 66 of 67 counties to Donald Trump in the presidential primary, giving him confidence that Rubio is no lock to win a primary if he does run.

Rubio has to decide this week if he will run for the Senate again. The deadline to qualify for the contest in Friday at noon.

For most of the year, Rubio said he planned to become a private citizen at the end of his current term. But last week, Rubio left open the possibility of running again after noting the shootings in Orlando had given him "pause" to think about how he could best serve.

Rubio has been under pressure from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other national Republicans for weeks to run for re-election because he is seen as the best chance to retain the seat for Republicans. If Hillary Clinton wins the White House, Democrats need to win four seats currently held by Republicans to retake the majority. Florida, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Illinois are key targets for Democrats.

It's a 'Rocky' start as Florida candidates climb aboard the ballot

Florida's week-long candidate qualifying period opened Monday with a "Rocky" start -- literally -- as candidates for hundreds of federal, state and county offices get on the ballot.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Democrat "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente ponied up a check for $10,440 to run for U.S. Senate. De La Fuente, who has been running a shoestring campaign for president, likely would be the fourth name on the Democratic primary ballot, joining U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy and Pam Keith. De La Fuente got the Dave Barry treatment ("a loon with four buses in Iowa!") in The Miami Herald as he sought votes in that state's caucuses in January.

The first candidate in line when the qualifying window opened was Alex Barrio, a Democrat seeking an Orlando House seat being vacated by Rep. Victor Torres' move to seek an open Senate seat.

"A lot of people will consider jumping in or jumping out," said Barrio, who has served brief stints as a legislative aide and in the Senate Democratic Office. He asked reporters: "Can you remember an election that's this volatile?"

FullSizeRender (1)Heath Rassner, 29, of Kendall, an FIU student at left, arrived wearing a wool cap and filed papers to run as a Democrat for the District 119 House seat in southwest Miami-Dade, a Republican district represented by Rep. Jeannette Nunez. Rassner said his enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy prompted him to run for office himself, and the political novice showed candor seen too rarely among politicians.

Asked if he believes he can win, Rassner said: "No. But it's worth a shot."

PolitiFact: Can workers be fired for being gay in Florida?

As the motive behind the deadly Jun 12 shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando was still being debated, singer Clay Aiken took to Twitter to characterize it as a hate crime and report that gays can be summarily fired in Florida simply because of their sexual orientation.

"A gay man who survived #orlando hate crime can STILL show up to work in FL tomorrow and have his boss fire him simply because he is gay," Aiken tweeted.

For this fact check, we will look at whether Florida really offers no job protection to gays and lesbians.

The short answer: Aiken is mostly correct when it comes to Florida as a whole, but he's wrong to suggest that there is no protection anywhere in the state.

Federal law does not protect the employment rights of the LGBT community, nor does the state of Florida.

However, thanks to city and county law, members of the LGBT community do have employment protection in some areas of Florida.

Keep reading from C. Eugene Emery, Jr. of PolitiFact Florida.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen gets AFL-CIO endorsement

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, has been endorsed by the South Florida AFL-CIO and the United Teachers of Dade.

Ros-Lehtinen's district was redrawn and is now slightly Democratic but she is still considered a safe incumbent as a social liberal who has been in Congress since 1989. She is expected to draw a Democratic challenger: Scott Furhman, a political newcomer who has national Democratic backing.

Ros-Lehtinen represents District 27 which stretches from North Bay Village to Cutler Bay.


Gov. Rick Scott criticizes decision to release partial transcript of Orlando shooter's 911 call

via @learyreports

Gov. Rick Scott says it doesn't make sense to release only partial 911 transcripts of the Orlando shooter.


Appearing today on Fox News:

On Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s comments regarding releasing the partial transcripts of the Orlando terrorist’s 911 call:

“Bill, I do not know, but I’ve talked to families and have been down here since the terrorist attack. I’ve talked to families who have lost their loved ones, I met with families that are in the hospital with loved ones in the hospital. We are all looking for answers. Why wouldn’t she release everything? We all need to know, but especially these families. They need to know exactly what happened to try and understand why this happened. It doesn’t make any sense to me why you wouldn’t release the entire transcript.”

On whether he disagrees with Lynch only releasing partial transcripts:

“Absolutely. This seems like it is another example of not focusing on the evil here. This is evil. It’s ISIS. It’s radical Islam. At some point – we lost 49 lives here, we lost Steven Sotloff in 2014 that was beheaded by ISIS. At some point, we’re going to get a president that’s going to say I care about destroying ISIS. I want it for everybody that was impacted by this. I want a focus on how we get rid of ISIS. How do we stop this, how do we stop radical Islam. This is wrong. It’s hurting our country. This was an attack on our gay community, our Hispanic community, our entire country.”

On Lynch’s comments that she is only releasing partial transcript because she doesn’t want to ‘re-victimize the victims’:

“I have no idea what she means, but I’ll tell you what. I’ve gone to funerals, I’ve sat down and cried with the parents. I’ve gone and visited individuals in the hospitals, they’re grieving. They want answers. If it was my family, I’d want answers, she would too. We all would like answers. She should release everything that doesn’t impact the investigation. I could understand if it was something that impacted that investigation until this is finished, I get that. She’s not saying that. It doesn’t make any sense to me. We’ve got to get serious about destroying ISIS. Destroy ISIS, stop radical Islam.”

On what he thinks the administration’s motive behind not releasing the full transcript is:

“I have no idea, but it sure appears that they don’t want to talk about that ISIS was involved. This is clearly ISIS-inspired. It’s clearly a result of evil, radical Islam. We’ve got to call this what it is. We’ve got to defend our country. We’ve got to stop saying ISIS is not the problem, they are the problem. They want to destroy us. There’s people that want to kill us, they are killing us. 49 people in my state massacred because of radical Islam, because of the evil of ISIS.”

Donald Trump fires Corey Lewandowski

Donald Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, the New York Times reports:

“The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign,” the campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said in a statement. “The campaign is grateful to Corey for his hard work and dedication and we wish him the best in the future.”

Lewandowski was charged with misdemeanor battery for the March 8 incident at Trump National Golf Club in which he yanked on the arm of former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields. Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg declined to prosecute because he said the evidence wasn't strong enough. Although Lewandowski drew negative publicity for the skirmish in Florida, Trump won all but one Florida county -- Miami-Dade -- in the March 15 primary.

In late March, the Trump campaign hired strategist Paul Manafort and Lewandowski's role in the campaign appeared to diminish. 

See Lewandowski's Truth-O-Meter record from PolitiFact including his False claim that "The chairman of the party of Florida, who is an avid and outward supporter of Marco Rubio, gets to appoint 30 of those delegates."  


Annette Taddeo endorsed by AFL-CIO in Miami Congressional race

Miami Congressional candidate Annette Taddeo has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO.

Taddeo is running in a Democratic primary against former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia in a Miami-Dade/Monroe district currently represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

“Fighting for working families in Florida is at the heart of my campaign,” said Annette Taddeo in a press release. “It’s an honor to have the backing of the AFL-CIO and its members in South Florida, and I look forward to working with them to fight for South Florida working families.”

Andy Madtes, president of the South Florida AFL-CIO, said in a statement: “No one will fight harder for South Florida than Annette Taddeo. Annette understands our struggle, she knows that raising incomes is good for working families and it’s good for South Florida. We’re proud to endorse Annette, and look forward to knocking on every single door, and making every last phone call to help send Annette to Congress.”


President Obama helps Patrick Murphy in new radio ad


Signaling a new stage in the Democratic primary for Florida's U.S. Senate race, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy unveiled a new radio ad on Monday that features a heavyweight narrator: President Barack Obama.

"In Congress, I could always count on Patrick to have my back. He’s been there for me when I needed him," Obama says, asking listeners to support Murphy in the Aug. 30 primary.

In the ad -- titled "For What's Right -- Obama also hails Murphy as a "strong progressive," while praising several of his policy positions, such as on Social Security and Medicare, health care and criminal justice reform.

The 60-second spot is paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which endorsed Murphy more than a year ago and is prepared to spend millions on his behalf in the campaign ahead. Florida's seat, currently held by Republican Marco Rubio, could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate next year.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden endorsed Murphy in March. They've also already joined the Jupiter congressman on the campaign trail three times this spring -- Obama and Biden with separate trips to Miami and Biden once by himself in Orlando.

Murphy is competing against fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, and Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith in the U.S. Senate primary.

Listen to the radio ad here:

Continue reading "President Obama helps Patrick Murphy in new radio ad" »