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August 19, 2016

Big-money Democrats face off in Broward Senate race

District 34 Candidates


Trial attorney Gary Farmer has no intention of playing nice in his first foray into electoral politics.

Farmer, a Democrat, has accused his opponents of voting with the National Rifle Association, defunding public education and supporting fracking in Florida.

But his opponents, former state Rep. Jim Waldman and sitting state Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed, are also Democrats, even though the election for the state Senate has the tone of an inter-party race. The three will face off in Aug. 30 primary.

“I'm the true progressive — dare I say liberal Democrat — in this race,” Farmer said. “Jim Waldman voted to expand Stand your Ground.”

Farmer was referring to a vote in the Legislature on the 2014 “warning shot” bill, which gives additional protections to people who fire weapons to defend themselves. However, some law enforcement agencies said the bill made Stand your Ground harder to enforce.

“The bill had nothing to do with Stand your Ground,” Waldman said. “In fact, it actually... weakens Stand your Ground. You have the ability to not have to kill somebody.”

Donald Trump's first TV ad in Florida focuses on immigration


Donald Trump has released his first TV ad of the general election in Florida and other swing states.

The ad "Two Americas: Immigration" contrasts the immigration positions of Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Here is the script: "In Hillary Clinton’s America: The system stays rigged against Americans. Syrian refugees flood in. Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay. Collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line. Our border open. It’s more of the same, but worse. Donald Trump’s America is secure. Terrorists and dangerous criminals: kept out. The border: secured. Our families: safe. Change that makes America safe again."

The text on the screen quotes Clinton saying in September "U.S. should take 65,000 Syrian refugees." Clinton said in response to the refugee crisis that the U.S. should raise the number of refugees taken in from 10,000 to 65,000. But she also made it clear that the U.S. shouldn't just blindly take in anyone from Syria.

Trump also has repeatedly said that Clinton wants open borders -- a claim PolitiFact Florida has ruled False.

(For a more thorough analysis of the immigration positions of Trump and Clinton turn to PolitiFact.)

The campaign is spending $4.8 million to air the ad for 10 days in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. 

Broward early voting starts Saturday

Broward County starts early voting on Saturday for the U.S. Senate, congressional and local races.

Early voting will be open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 20-28. Here are the locations throughout the county including the sites where people can drop off mail ballots. Through Aug. 15, about 42,000 people in Broward have voted by mail.

The hottest races on the Broward ballot include a few Democratic contests: the U.S. Senate battle between Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz who is trying to fend off feisty challenger Tim Canova and Gary Farmer who is running against Jim Waldman for a state legislative seat. Broward voters are also casting ballots in school board and judicial races.

Early voting in several counties including Miami-Dade is already underway.


In tough editorial, Miami Herald recommends Marco Rubio and long-shot Pam Keith for Senate

From the Miami Herald editorial board:

Democratic and Republican leaders have displayed a damn-the-voters attitude in this year’s Florida Senate primary races that discredits both parties. They’re doing their best to rig the outcome before a single vote is cast.

In the Democratic race, the leadership has placed its bet on U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who narrowly beat firebrand GOP incumbent Allen West in 2012 in a district that leans slightly Republican. Both President Obama and Vice President Biden have campaigned with Mr. Murphy, with the president featured in a frequent Murphy TV commercial.

The party leadership sees Rep. Murphy as more palatable to voters than primary challenger Alan Grayson, a feisty, mince-no-words congressman from Orlando. But that should be up to the voters to decide. That’s why we have primaries instead of appointed nominees. Stacking the deck against Rep. Grayson corrupts the process.

On the Republican side, party leaders are scared to death of losing the seat held by Sen. Marco Rubio. They persuaded him to go back on this word after he’d said No to this race countless times. Three candidates dropped out of what had been a five-person race, including Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a proven vote-getter in Miami-Dade County, and newcomer Todd Wilcox, a conservative military veteran who made a good impression before exiting.

When a party leaves its own members with fewer choices, or abandons neutrality to favor one candidate over another, voters lose. It’s an insult to anyone who wants fairness in the electoral system. And it’s one more reason so many voters despise partisan politics.

More here.

Get to know Florida's U.S. Senate contenders in the August primary



In Florida’s closely watched and highly competitive U.S. Senate race, four Republicans and five Democrats are competing in the Aug. 30 primaries for coveted spots on the general election ballot.

Incumbent Republican Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy are the most well-known names on each party’s ballot, but they face resilient challengers hoping to edge out a come-from-behind victory.

After a failed presidential run, Rubio wants to stay in office for another six-year term, while Democrats are pulling no punches to unseat him — pouring money and high-profile endorsements behind Murphy’s bid, in particular. Democrats hope a victory in Florida’s race will help them win back control of the U.S. Senate in 2017.

Click here to learn about the top contenders for Florida’s U.S. Senate contest.

MORE: Miami Herald's Voters Guide

Pivotal party primaries will decide a quarter of Florida's legislative seats


via @stevebousquet

It’s called a primary, but the election on Aug. 30 could be a defining moment for the Florida Legislature.

Across the state, primary races soon to be decided by a relative handful of voters may determine whether the Florida Senate stays on its moderate course or shifts to the right as new battles loom over abortion, education, guns and the environment.

The primary may decide whether Gov. Rick Scott will have more friends in the Capitol next spring, and whether deep-pocket newcomers can duplicate Scott’s success and use their personal wealth to catapult themselves to office.

From Miami to Pensacola, primary candidates and their allies are spending millions on TV spots, mailers, polls and phone calls, some of it highly personal, most of it negative, and all of it aimed at “super voters” who faithfully show up in primary elections.

“The primaries this year seem to be very intense,” said Marian Johnson, the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s long-time political director. “The question is, how many people will come out?”

More here.

Photo credit: The Florida House during debate in the final week of the 2016 session. Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times

Florida GOP forms 'Leadership Victory Committee' ahead of November election

via @learyreports

Allies of Marco Rubio will head up a Florida Leadership Victory Committee designed to get out the vote in November.

The state GOP announced the committee today, saying it will be co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, CFO Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Rubio is not mentioned in a release but he will raise money for the committee, which will in turn help his campaign and other down-ballot Republicans. The committee comes as Donald Trump is still organizing a ground game in Florida, creating some worry.

“It has always been our objective that Republicans up and down the ballot have success come November," RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said. "As a battleground state, the Republican Party of Florida is spending its time and resources supporting candidates that stand for conservative principles that will reverse the course of President Obama’s failed agenda.  For the Sunshine State, this election is about keeping Hillary Clinton out of the oval office by delivering Florida's 29 electoral votes to the Republican nominee and restoring prosperity to our country."

Continue reading "Florida GOP forms 'Leadership Victory Committee' ahead of November election" »

August 18, 2016

Taddeo camp touts latest fundraising total



Annette Taddeo and Joe Garcia are in the final stages of a bitter Democratic primary campaign, and the Taddeo camp released their most recent fundraising numbers on Thursday afternoon. 

The Taddeo campaign says she raised $150,970 in a just over a month since the last reporting deadline, which was June 30. Taddeo’s campaign reported $250,000 in cash on hand as of August 18.

“I’m humbled by the incredible support from the thousands of Floridians who have joined our campaign,” Taddeo said in a statement. “This month’s fundraising surge shows we have the momentum and our campaign will continue to give South Floridians a real chance to truly end the divisive politics of Donald Trump.”

Taddeo and Garcia face off in the Aug. 30 primary for the right to challenge incumbent Republican Carlos Curbelo in the November election.

Garcia's fundraising numbers are due by the end of the week.

Judge strikes down parts of state abortion law


A federal judge on Thursday threw out key parts of an abortion restriction law that would have blocked all state funding to clinics such as Planned Parenthood and required the inspection of as many as 35,000 women’s health records.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle made permanent an earlier decision to temporarily halt those portions of the law from going into effect while a lawsuit filed against the state by Planned Parenthood was ongoing.

Earlier this month, the two parties reached an agreement to end the suit. In it, health officials agreed to the terms of Hinkle’s earlier ruling.

Gov. Rick Scott signed the abortion law this spring. It blocked state and local money from preventive services like STD and cancer screenings at abortion clinics. State law already bans taxpayer-funded abortions.

Planned Parenthood said it stood to lose $500,0000 in government contracts for Medicaid services and education programs as a result of the law and sued. The state contracts have already been renewed, said Laura Goodhue, Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates executive director. She’s hopeful local governments will again provide grants to Planned Parenthood in the future.

In his earlier ruling, Hinkle said that portion of the law discouraged clinics from performing abortions, which he said is unconstitutional.

“You can’t defund based on exercising a constitutional right,” he told lawyers for the state during a court hearing in June

He also threw out a requirement that the state review records for half of the abortions performed each year, which generally exceeds 70,000.

Technically, the state could appeal the ruling. However, because they requested that the judge make his injunction permanent, it’s not likely they would do so

Scott’s office has not yet said whether it intends to do so.

Some parts of the abortion law remain in effect, including a requirement that physicians performing abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital or that clinics have a transfer agreement.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a law that forced Texas abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges, no one has challenged that part of the Florida law. Goodhue said Planned Parenthood doesn’t have any plans to do so at this time.

State House candidate’s son arrested — while campaigning

Roy Hardemon’s son Simeon Boykin was arrested on Thursday. Hardemon is a candidate for state House.


Campaign workers typically stand outside polling places, waving signs and shouting slogans of support for their preferred candidate.

But they are rarely arrested while trying to sway a voter.

Simeon Boykin, the son of state House candidate Roy Hardemon, was arrested outside the Kwik Stop at 6101 NE Fourth Court in Little Haiti. He was clad in a red “Elect Roy Hardemon for State Representative District 108” T-shirt at the time of his arrest. Miami police did not make the arrest report with charges available.

Lemon City Library, one of 20 early voting locations in Miami-Dade County, is across the street from the convenience store.

Hardemon told the Miami Herald that Boykin, 33, was trying to give a potential voter information on his campaign inside the Kwik Stop. The voter refused to take a campaign flier and Boykin started arguing with the clerk.

Read more here: State House candidate's son arrested--while campaigning