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October 21, 2016

New Clinton TV ad in Florida features Khan family


Hillary Clinton's latest TV ad in Florida features Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father from Virginia who spoke forcefully against Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention as he invoked the death of his son, Capt. Humayun Khan, in Iraq.

"He saved everyone in his unit," a tearful Khan says in the commercial. "He was 27 years old, and he was a Muslim American. I want to ask Mr. Trump: 'Would my son have a place in your America?'"

The ad will air in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to the Clinton campaign. 

Univision: Spanish-language debate between Rubio, Murphy isn't happening



A potential U.S. Senate debate on Univision between Republican incumbent Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy won’t be happening after all, because the two campaigns have seemingly failed to agree to terms for the Miami event.

“The debate was canceled,” Univision spokesman Jose Zamora told the Herald/Times on Friday. He couldn’t immediately elaborate as to why.

Rubio’s campaign alleged Murphy is “blowing off” the event, but Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said the debate is still a possibility and disputed Univision’s statement that it was canceled.

“We’re continuing to work with Univision to make this debate happen,” Karp said, adding that the campaigns were looking at Oct. 28 as a date for it. “We’re talking about the format.”

Although both Rubio and Murphy had accepted invitations for the event, they haven’t finalized negotiations on terms — including in what language the debate would be done.

More here.

Photo credit: AP

Two debates remain between Garcia, Curbelo, after last-minute addition


Voters in Florida's swing 26th congressional district will have two more chance to watch Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo debate Democratic challenger Joe Garcia on TV -- one in English and one in Spanish.

An English-language debate on WPLG-ABC 10 that was taped Friday will air Sunday. A Spanish-language debate on WJAN-América TeVé will take place Nov. 1, a week before Election Day, when thousands of ballots will have already been cast.

The two campaigns have been unable to agree to any other exchanges, despite a flurry of invitations from local stations.

Garcia has said no -- or not responded -- to invitations from WSCV-Telemundo 51 and WLTV-Univision 23, both of which Curbelo accepted. Curbelo chose a one-on-one interview -- rather than a debate -- on WPBS and did not confirm a date with WSBS-Mega TV. Garcia said yes to both.

The League of Women Voters invited both candidates to a debate. Garcia said yes and was told it would air locally on C-SPAN and WLRN radio. Curbelo said no but wasn't told the debate would be televised, according to his campaign. The League of Women Voters did not respond to requests from the Miami Herald.

Almost all of the invitations were also in Spanish. Garcia and Curbelo have faced off once in English, at their alma mater, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, but that debate wasn't televised -- despite being moderated by national ABC News reporter Tom Llamas, a fellow Belen alumnus. The two candidates also appeared in a Key West forum Monday that was live-streamed online.

Both campaigns have pointed fingers about the lack of debate consensus, with Joanna Rodriguez, a Curbelo spokeswoman, called Garcia "desperate to hide" from Spanish-speaking voters after Garcia turned down Univision and Telemundo, the most-watched Spanish-language stations.

"One Spanish debate on a cable channel is a disservice to the voters of this district who deserve a quality debate between the candidates," she said.

"I'm sure both Carlos' camp and ours agree that it's impossible to accept every invite," Garcia spokesman Javier Hernandez said. The Garcia camp called out Curbelo on Thursday for not attending a Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations forum that he turned down after trying to find a different date. Curbelo had already accepted an invite to meet with the local Disabled American Veterans chapter.

Curbelo might benefit most from more TV time, despite having more campaign money and political ads already on air. He was already vulnerable in the Democratic-leaning district before Donald Trump. Republicans fear Trump's candidacy could hurt down-ballot candidates, particularly for the U.S. House. For Garcia, it might be enough to ride Hillary Clinton's electoral coattails.

Both Garcia and Curbelo are Cuban American -- and bilingual.

This post and its headline have been updated with news that Curbelo and Garcia taped the WPLG-ABC 10 debate.

Photo credit: David Santiago, el Nuevo Herald

Pool of newly-registered post-hurricane voters keeps growing

First it was 64,000. Then it was 72,000.

On Friday, the number of new voters who registered during Florida's court-ordered week-long extension period had swelled to more than 86,000, suggesting for the first time that there could be more than 100,000 people who took advantage of the extra time ordered by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker as a result of disruption caused by Hurricane Matthew.

The state reported Friday that the number of verified new voters between Oct. 11-20 is 61,233 and that an additional 24,854 people are being verified, for a potential post-Matthew bounty of 86,087 new voters.

Now for a little numerical perspective: All of Sumter County, home of The Villages, had about 91,000 voters as of Sept. 30. Unofficial data indicates that Miami-Dade registered far more new voters than any other county, but the specifics by county and by party won't be released by the state for several more days.

The state's latest voter registration report is through Thursday. That means the higher total likely includes voter forms that were postmarked by the Oct. 18 deadline that arrived by mail at county and state elections offices.

Democrats failed Thursday in a request that the judge order the state to verify every new applicant by Sunday to prevent them from being forced to cast provisional ballots at early voting sites beginning next Monday.  

The big unknown is how many of these brand-new voters will actually show up to vote in the election and how they will vote. But this much is for sure: If any race in the state is decided by a handful of votes on Nov. 8, Judge Walker's decision to extend the registration period, over the initial opposition of Gov. Rick Scott, is sure to be cited as a critical factor.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner will continually update the numbers as forms are received, processed and verified. You can monitor the state's numbers here.

Obama endorses 13 Florida legislative candidates, including several in Miami-Dade races


President Barack Obama is supporting 13 Florida Democrats running for the state Legislature, the Florida Democratic Party announced this morning.

The list includes several high-profile candidates in highly competitive races -- many in Miami-Dade county.

Those include District 37 Senate candidate and current Miami state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez and District 39 candidate and political newcomer Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, of Pinecrest.

Both Rodriguez and Mucarsel-Powell are trying to unseat powerful Miami Republicans -- Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Anitere Flores, respectively -- and help Democrats narrow the Republicans' hold on the chamber majority.

On the House side, Obama also backed Miami-Dade legislative contenders Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich (challenging Hialeah Republican Manny Diaz Jr. in District 103); Nick Duran (running for Rodriguez's open seat in District 112 against Rosa Maria Palomino); Daisy Baez (running for the open District 114 seat against John Couriel); and Robert Asencio (who's in a bitter battle against former state Rep. David Rivera in District 118).

Many other Democrats also running against Republicans in Florida legislative districts weren't included in Obama's endorsement list, which is solely non-incumbents.

But noticeably absent from the list were state Sen. Dwight Bullard (who's running for re-election in District 40 in a heated race against state Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami) and District 38 Senate candidate and current state Rep. Daphne Campbell (who's running against former state Rep. Phillip Brutus).

Here is the full list of Florida legislative candidates Obama endorsed:


Continue reading "Obama endorses 13 Florida legislative candidates, including several in Miami-Dade races" »

After TV ad, Obama also does Spanish-language radio ad for Murphy



President Barack Obama has been all-in on raising Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy's still-relatively-limited profile with Florida voters this week.

Obama did a Spanish-language TV ad that was released Wednesday, and today Murphy's campaign released a Spanish-language radio ad that the president did, too.

(Not to mention, on Thursday in person, Obama spent a noticeable portion of his campaign speech at a Hillary Clinton rally in Miami Gardens urging Democrats to help Murphy unseat Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.)

The new radio ad largely mirrors the TV one, but since it's 30 seconds longer, it has a couple additional lines by the president, both highlighting Murphy's character -- while also taking a subtle jab at Rubio:

"He’s a person with integrity that doesn’t abandon his responsibility," Obama says of Murphy in the radio ad.

"I count on Patrick Murphy and want you to do so also," Obama adds.

A narrator also offered this fresh line that wasn't in the TV spot: "Patrick Murphy worked with President Obama on immigration, while Senator Rubio supports Donald Trump."

"Voters know Marco's record of service on behalf of the Hispanic community," Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said, adding that Murphy has "used Dreamers as a talking point in this race"

"Marco is the only candidate who will act as a check and balance on the next president, regardless of who that may be," she said.

Murphy's campaign has aggressively been trying to improve the Jupiter congressman's appeal with Hispanic voters since the campaign hired Miami strategist Freddy Balsera in late September.

Listen to the radio ad here:

*This post has been updated with comment from Rubio's campaign.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Clinton's Florida history: It's long, and it's complicated

via @adamsmithtimes

Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Florida, not unlike an enduring but exacting marriage, is long and complex.

Consider her journey from idealistic law student at Yale sticking up for Florida migrant workers to presidential frontrunner chatting up the corporate elite who paid $50,000 a plate to dine with her on Miami Beach’s Star Island.

In July 1970, 22-year-old Hillary Rodham, an intern for a children’s advocacy group in Washington, was sent to monitor Walter Mondale’s Senate committee hearings about terrible working conditions on corporate-owned farms in Florida.

Some Yale classmates with internships at big law firms saw the hearings as proof that agribusinesses needed better PR. But Clinton, who had babysat migrant children in Illinois, had a different take.

“I suggested that the best way to do that would be to improve the treatment of their farm workers,” Clinton wrote in an autobiography. She threw herself into studying how laws affect children.

Fast forward 20 years. Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton launches a bid for president with his lawyer-wife at his side and they target Florida as key to winning the Democratic nomination. They seek the money and support of sugar baron Alfonso “Alfy” Fanjul, whose family-owned company faced numerous lawsuits alleging mistreatment of Jamaican guest workers cutting cane in South Florida’s muck. No matter. Fanjul becomes co-chairman of the 1992 Clinton campaign.

Four years later, an embarrassing political footnote: President Clinton was in the Oval Office with Monica Lewinsky when he had a 22-minute phone call with Fanjul, whose industry enjoyed special protections under Clinton’s NAFTA deal.

Today, most of the cane cutters are gone from the Fanjul fields in South Florida, replaced by machinery. But the Fanjul family remains tight with the Clintons, donating at least $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Records show Alfy Fanjul met numerous times privately with Secretary of State Clinton. In August, shortly after the Democratic National Convention, Fanjul, his wife, Raysa, and former Ambassador Paul Cejas and his wife host a $100,000-per-couple dinner at Cejas’ Miami Beach mansion for the Democratic nominee who decries the unfair clout of the rich.

Call the Clinton-Fanjul ties irony, or even hypocrisy. Ultimately, the story of Hillary Clinton and her relationships in Florida is one of longevity.

“It’s not anything new with the Clintons’ calculus,” said Gregory Schell, a Palm Beach County lawyer who has spent decades fighting for farm workers — and suing the Fanjuls. “Everything about them is bottom line and the ends justify the means. They want to win.”

Schell plans to vote for her.

More here.

Photo credit: Mark Foley, AP

Miami-Dade leading the way as more than 1 million have voted

More than 1 million voters have already cast ballots in the presidential election in Florida.

The state reported Friday that 997,123 people have voted by mail, but the posted total will easy surpass 1 million as county election supervisors report updated tallies throughout the day Friday.

Democrats have bolted to a lead in the number of mail ballots provided, but Republicans lead in ballot returns by 1.8 percentage points (416,778 returns to 399,434 for Democrats, according to the mid-morning snapshot Friday).

County-by-county, Miami-Dade is No. 1 in mail ballot returns with about 269,000, followed by Pinellas, Broward, Orange and Palm Beach. All five counties voted Democratic in the 2012 presidential election.

The total number of mail ballots provided as of Friday morning was 2,104,917.

Early voting will begin on Monday in most of the state as 50 of Florida's 67 counties open libraries, city halls, elections offices and community centers for voting. Monday also marks the first day that counties can begin to review mail ballots, which will trigger a new provision that allows mail-ballot voters with signature defects to correct their ballots in time for them to be counted.

Patrick Murphy's dad also gave another $1M to a Democratic super PAC last month


Tom Murphy Jr.'s generous political donations to help his youngest son's U.S. Senate bid keep on coming.

Patrick Murphy's father gave another $1 million to a major Democratic super PAC last month, just 10 days before the group pulled $6 million in planned ads out of Florida as Murphy's campaign struggled to gain ground on Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio in September. (Patrick Murphy is faring better this month, as the race remains a dead-heat but Democrats haven't re-invested the dollars they pulled.)

Tom Murphy's latest major gift to the Senate Majority PAC -- revealed in a new campaign finance disclosure report filed Thursday -- means he's spent at least $2.8 million on Democratic efforts directly supporting Patrick Murphy this cycle.

MORE: "The financial muscle behind Patrick Murphy’s Senate bid: Dad"

It was the second $1 million contribution Tom Murphy made to the Senate Majority PAC since this summer -- and it came on the same day in September he also gave another $250,000 to "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class," a super PAC dedicated to supporting Murphy's Senate campaign.

Earlier this year, Murphy's father previously also gave $500,000 -- through himself and Coastal -- to the pro-Murphy super PAC.

Super PACs can raise unlimited funds but are prohibited from coordinating with candidates' campaigns.

Patrick Murphy has come under scrutiny because of his father's generous support. His former primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, and at least one conservative group have each alleged Tom Murphy's donations constitute illegal coordination between Murphy's campaign and the independent super PACs -- something Murphy's campaign has called a "frivolous and unfounded attack."

Murphy has made campaign finance reform one of his campaign platforms -- saying earlier this year, he "hates" super PACs -- but he hasn't spoken out against his father's six- and seven-figure donations on his behalf. Rather he's expressed gratitude for the support from his father, whom he frequently describes as his "best friend and mentor."

Tom Murphy is the founder, CEO and chairman of Coastal Construction Group, one of the largest construction companies in South Florida. On the campaign trail -- including at a Hillary Clinton rally on Thursday in Miami Gardens -- Murphy often recounts how his father was a union carpenter who never got a college degree and "started his business out of the back of a truck with no guarantee of success." But success Tom Murphy found, turning Coastal into a billion-dollar company that made the family, including Patrick Murphy, millionaires.

Photo credit: AP

October 20, 2016

Lawsuit alleges some Broward ballots omitted pot question

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A marijuana-legalization group has sued the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, saying a statewide amendment on medical marijuana was omitted from some voters’ absentee ballots.

Norm Kent, acting on behalf of NORML of Florida, filed the lawsuit in Broward circuit court at 4:48 p.m. Thursday seeking an emergency hearing.

There is an “immiment danger that a significant portion of the voting public in Broward County, Florida, will be deprived of the opportunity to fully participate in the 2016 general election,” the lawsuit says.

Keep reading here.