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August 26, 2016

Rubio refrains from criticizing Trump on immigration

via @TMarreroTimes

If Sen. Marco Rubio is miffed that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has wavered a bit on his hardline immigration status, he's not letting it show.

Rubio, who is expected to win the GOP primary Tuesday in his bid to keep his seat, said Friday he'd "seen the headlines" about Trump's comments that seem to indicate he's softening a bit on immigration and tacking toward the policy proposals that Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush advocated during the presidential race. 

Compare that to Bush, Rubio's fellow failed presidential candidate, who called Trump's shift "abhorrent."

Rubio is expected to handily win the Republican primary against businessman Carlos Beruff. The Buzz asked Rubio how he’ll explain his support for Trump, however reluctant and lukewarm, to general election voters.

Continue reading "Rubio refrains from criticizing Trump on immigration" »

Candidates who self-fund often lose, but they're becoming more common


After Tuesday, Irv Slosberg could be a state senator — or he could be out more than $1 million in a failed election.

Slosberg, a Democratic state House member from Boca Raton, has spent about $1.1 million of his own money in a primary battle with Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth.

"I could spend my time going around begging for money from all of these special interests," Slosberg said. "Or I could just write a check myself rather than owing them."

Such extravagant personal spending is growing more popular for legislative jobs — despite their stingy $29,697 salaries.

In 2008, nine legislative candidates gave their campaigns $100,000 or more. So far this year, 27 have — and there are still two months left until November's general election.

A number of conditions explain why.

• The concentration of wealth in the last 30 years has produced a record number of billionaires and millionaires undaunted by the typical expenses of a campaign.

• While state law limits donors to $1,000 per candidate each election year, no such restrictions exist for candidates. They can loan or donate themselves as much as they can afford.

• In an era where being an outsider appeals to voters, relying on personal wealth comes with political benefits. Candidates don't have to worry about appearing bought and paid for by big money donors.

• Convenience. Candidates don't have to spend time making pleas for big bucks.

Read the full story here.

Ahead of storm, Gov. Scott warns: Vote now for Tuesday primary


With the prospect of a major storm bearing down on Florida as early as this weekend, state officials all have the same message: Go vote early.

"With the primary election on Tuesday, it is crucial that everyone goes out to vote early, regardless of weather," Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement urging Floridians to monitor the weather and prepare for a possible storm.

Scott himself has already voted. He filled in a mail ballot.

The National Hurricane Center believes there's a 60-percent chance of a system in the Caribbean turning into a cyclone in the next five days and that it could be headed toward Florida's Gulf Coast.

That would wreak havoc on next Tuesday's primary election, in which voters will decide the party nominees for congressional and state legislative seats, state attorneys and county offices, as well as nonpartisan offices and a constitutional amendment on solar power.

Early voting is available in all 67 Florida counties today and Saturday. Voters in 10 counties can cast early ballots on Sunday. They include Hillsborough, Pinellas, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Orange, Duval, Bradford, Charlotte and Osceola.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Ken Detzner and Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer issued similar alerts to Scott's.

"While it is too premature to determine if voters will be impacted by adverse weather conditions, I encourage all Florida voters who have not voted by mail to get ahead of any possible weather disturbances by voting early," Detzner said.

Judge throws out lawsuit in Miami-Dade judicial race

via @DavidOvalle305

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jason Bloch’s effort to boot his opponent from Tuesday’s ballot failed.

Another judge on Friday threw out Bloch’s lawsuit against challenger Marcia del Rey over her disclosure of income from a motel she owns in Puerto Rico.

Circuit Judge Jerald Bagley ruled that Bloch should have first complained to Florida’s ethics commission. And Bagley agreed with del Rey’s lawyer that kicking the candidate off the ballot “would disenfranchise the citizens of Miami-Dade County from voting for their candidate of choice.”

Bloch’s lawsuit was unusual because Florida judicial races are normally uneventful affairs. Candidates are limited in what how they campaign – and del Rey’s lawyer attacked the legal challenge as nothing more than “politial mudslinging disguised as lawsuit.”

More here.

Photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff

Broward prosecutors to investigate bribery allegations against Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor

Broward prosecutors will investigate whether Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Bill Julian took bribes in return for a favorable vote on development project, after Julian was caught on tape apparently admitting to taking the favors.

The accusations involve whether the developers provided money to a pet charity of Julian’s and offered to provide as many as 300 workers to help with his campaign.

“I know there are some complaints and allegations that have been referred to us and we will review those,” said Tim Donnelly, public corruption chief for Broward State Attorney Mike Satz, told the Miami Herald Friday morning. “It's going to be investigated.”

WPLG Channel 10 reporter Bob Norman first aired the allegations against Julian Wednesday based on a voice message by Julian related to the $450 million condo and hotel project at the Diplomat Golf and Tennis club.

In the profanity-laced recording, Julian said he got the developer to buy a food bank “a frigging van” but that “I couldn’t tell anybody.”

It spilled over into the city’s budget hearing Thursday when two city commissioners accused Julian of taking bribes.

“What a psycho — you’re taking bribes!” says City Commissioner Michele Lazarow during the hearing, according to a video from Lazarow’s Facebook page posted by

“You’re taking bribes and you’ve got the cojones to accuse other people?” Commissioner Keith London said.

“Stick a sock in it,” Julian replied, while eating a snack on the commission dais.

Keep reading here.

Poll: Jewish voters prefer Clinton to Trump


Jewish voters in Florida favor Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump by a wide margin.

That shouldn't be too surprising. After all, Florida's Jewish population -- especially in South Florida -- has supported Democratic candidates for years. But a poll released Friday by West End Strategy confirms it: 66% of respondents said they'd support Clinton with 23% for Trump, 6% Gary Johnson and 2% Jill Stein.

Among Jewish voters, Clinton has high favorability (57%) compared to Trump (21%). 

Notably, even some Trump supporters told the pollsters they oppose his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States. 75% said the U.S. should not ban Muslims.

The group called 500 registered Florida voters "who have distinctly Jewish names." The poll has a 4.4-point margin of error. Read the full poll here.

Sun & clouds in solar's double message to Florida voters

IMG_6039Signs like this one will be popping up regularly across the Sunshine State as pro-Amendment 4 forces urge voters to vote yes now -- and no later.

Many groups supporting Amendment 4 on next Tuesday's primary ballot are also working to defeat Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot. Amendment 1 is actually a business-backed ballot initiative that critics say is deceptively pretending to be a consumer-friendly proposal, when in fact it is pro-utility and anti-consumer.

Utilities are the biggest financial backers of Amendment 1. (Read this letter published in the Miami Herald by Sam Fields of Plantation).  

Back to these signs, it's unusual -- and potentially a bit confusing -- for any interest group to send voters two different messages at the same time. The sign above shows no disclaimer from a sponsoring organization but the identical sign appears on the web site of the official "Yes On 4" effort, led by Floridians for Solar Choice.

Polls show voters are strongly in favor of Amendment 4, which would exempt solar panels and other renewable energy devices from property taxes paid by businesses. Passage requires approval by 60 percent of voters, and a recent Florida Chamber poll showed 70 percent in favor.

Clinton counters Trump outreach to African-Americans in new Florida ad


Donald Trump has been trying to attract more African-American voters by asking them, "What do you have to lose?"

Hillary Clinton's answer, in a TV ad airing in Florida, is: "Everything."

Clinton will need black voters to cast ballots for her in big numbers to recreate President Barack Obama's winning coalition. Polls show African-Americans strongly favoring the Democrat.

The ad is also playing in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to the Clinton camp.


Rubio appears ready to reverse TPP support

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio is expressing doubts about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, suggesting he may be ready to reverse support, a stark example of eroding support for trade agreements in the Donald Trump era.

"Well, we still haven't made a final determination," Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times this week. "I've reviewed the trade commission's report. I've been meeting with advocates both for and against it. I'm a little disappointed in the returns on it — the economic returns are more modest than I had anticipated."

A reversal would be striking because Rubio has been an outspoken champion for the deal and free trade agreements in general. It comes as the White House is making a push for congressional approval in the lame duck session, a prospect that has triggered ferocious lobbying from both sides.

Rubio, who is running for re-election and still has presidential aspirations, said he has "a couple" of additional meetings with TPP proponents but added that he was also "concerned" about intellectual property issues.

"I believe we need a trade agreement, but it's got to be one that is good for America. We're only going to get one shot at it," Rubio said. "The returns on it are a bit more modest than I had anticipated. They're good for agriculture, but not very good for manufacturing."

"Proponents," he added, "I'm going to let them make their argument."

Continue reading "Rubio appears ready to reverse TPP support" »

Pam Keith electrifies Pinellas Democrats over Grayson; Murphy didn't attend

Pam keithvia @JackSuntrup

CLEARWATER — A 47-year-old Miami labor attorney and Navy veteran paced around a pint-sized Marriott hotel ballroom Thursday evening throwing out ideas to Pinellas County Democrats.

They loved it.

Require that the military buy guns only from manufacturers that don't sell civilians AR-15-style weapons? That sounds interesting. Make gun owners carry insurance? Absolutely. Collect data on judges to ensure they apply the law evenly to all races and genders? Worth a shot.

"Equality under the law is not about the way the law is written," the attorney told roughly 75 people at the monthly meeting of the Pinellas Democratic Party. "It's about the way the law is applied."

If you hadn't seen the social media notices, you might not know who the attorney was. She's Pam Keith, and she's running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate in the Aug. 30 primary. You may have heard of her opponents, U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson of Orlando and Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, but she hasn't gained much traction — which is curious, based on the positive reaction of the crowd.

MORE: "Florida, meet your U.S. Senate candidates"

Teresa Kelly, 56, of St. Petersburg, voted early for Grayson. Did she have buyer's remorse, based on how Keith electrified the crowd?

"Maybe a little," Kelly said. "Maybe I didn't do my homework, and I'm ashamed to admit that."

Read the full story here.