Note: This blog's templates will be updated this afternoon to a responsive design bringing it in line with

At that time, we will also change to the Facebook commenting system. You will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment.

October 20, 2016

Entering October, Rubio had 2x as much campaign cash as Murphy



After a lackluster fundraising quarter and an expensive primary, Democrat Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign entered October with about $2.8 million in the bank -- less than half of the $5.7 million in campaign cash Republican incumbent Marco Rubio had.

That new detail and others regarding Murphy's and Rubio's campaign finances were revealed in their third-quarter disclosure reports, which were filed with the Federal Election Commission late last week. Because Senate candidates first file paper copies with the Secretary of the Senate's office, there is a lag of several days before the reports become publicly available through the FEC.

Both campaigns had declined repeated requests for their cash-on-hand figures, opting to let their quarterly reports speak for themselves. That was the first time they'd done that all cycle; previously, they revealed their cash on hand simultaneously with how much they'd raised during the filing period.

Also revealed in the newly filed disclosures: Murphy spent more than twice as much as he brought in between July and September -- the bulk of it ($4.2 million) going out in the first part of the quarter during his contentious Aug. 30 primary race against fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

Continue reading "Entering October, Rubio had 2x as much campaign cash as Murphy" »

A look at Florida Congressional vulnerability rankings

It’s been six months since the Buzz last handicapped the most vulnerable congressional seats in Florida. Since then, the list of House-seat battlegrounds in the state -- and the intensity of several key races -- has only grown.

Florida was already on track for a volatile season of congressional races, thanks to newly redrawn district lines, a contested U.S. Senate race that attracted U.S. House members, and a smattering of retirements. 

Recently, though, the vulnerability of several Florida Republican incumbents has continued to rise, due to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, which is expected to energize Latino voters and dampen support among moderate Republicans. In fact, earlier this month, when the Capitol Hill-based newspaper Roll Call named its list of most vulnerable House incumbents, three of the top 10 spots went to Florida Republicans.

This is the fourth consecutive election cycle that the Buzz has published periodic rankings of the most vulnerable seats in Florida's U.S. House delegation, which includes 17 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

Here are the seats we're keeping an eye on, in descending order by how vulnerable the incumbent party is to losing the seat on Election Day.

Keep reading from Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact and the Tampa Bay Times here:

Rubio to campaign with up-and-coming Colorado senator


Making his first public Broward County campaign stop in some time, Marco Rubio will greet voters Thursday at a Fort Lauderdale sports bar with a special guest: Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.

"I look forward to welcoming Senator Gardner to the Sunshine State today to join me in meeting with Floridians to talk about the importance of this race," Rubio said in a statement put out by his campaign. Gardner, like Rubio, is considered a bright star in the GOP's future. Unlike Rubio, Gardner has rescinded his support for Donald Trump.

They will campaign at 3:30 p.m. at Bokampers Sports Bar & Grill. Rubio is running for reelection against Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy.

Patrick Murphy uses Trump tape remarks against Marco Rubio in new ad



Taking a page from Hillary Clinton's playbook, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is elevating attacks on his opponent by using words from Donald Trump's own mouth.

In a new ad Murphy's campaign will release Thursday morning, the Jupiter congressman further publicizes Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's continued support for the Republican presidential nominee by juxtaposing a couple of Trump's lewd comments from the 2005 Access Hollywood video with a clip of Rubio this summer saying, "We have to make sure that Donald wins this election."

MORE: Murphy looks to gain edge over Rubio using Trump video, but will it be enough?

Murphy also uses the ad as an opportunity to plug recent endorsements he's gotten from the editorial boards of Florida's largest newspapers, including the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald.

Watch the ad below:

Continue reading "Patrick Murphy uses Trump tape remarks against Marco Rubio in new ad" »

Democrats back in court, pushing state to OK new voters faster

For the third time in two weeks, Florida Democrats are headed back to a courtroom in Tallahassee, battling Gov. Rick Scott's administration on a voting rights issue.

Democrats are 2-0, having successfully forced the state to count mail ballots with signature flaws and a week-long extension to register voters because of Hurricane Matthew. Round 3, once again before U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, involves newly-registered voters who could get caught in bureaucratic red tape and not be verified by the time early voting begins in most large counties next Monday, Oct. 24.

Scott's chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, already the object of sharp criticism from the judge, is once again at the center of controversy. Detzner has vowed that everyone who registered during the extension week (Oct. 12-18) will be verified by Oct. 29, which is the last day that early voting can begin in Florida. That group includes more than 64,000 people.

But Democrats are insisting that the voters all be verified by Sunday in time for the first day that early voting can begin on Monday, including in Miami-Dade, Broward, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Orange and Palm Beach counties -- all counties that favor Democrats and where thousands of new voters have registered.

Voters whose forms aren't yet verified would have to cast provisional ballots. Democrats filed an emergency motion in court Wednesday, saying "the consequences ... are severe and may result in the disenfranchisement of these voters" if Detzner's office doesn't get every new voter verified.

Republicans will be in court to oppose the Democrats' motion and to argue that those unverified voters should be required to cast provisional ballots. "In addition to changing the rules in the middle of an election, this is dangerous, unprecedented and has the potential to create chaos at the polls," party chairman Blaise Ingoglia said.


Clinton and Trump broke a tradition of debate handshakes. A look back at 40 years of greetings.


Wednesday night's final face-off between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appears to be historic in at least one measure: the first time presidential candidates didn't shake hands while sharing a debate stage. 

Naked Politics reviewed YouTube's archives of presidential debates, and we found an unbroken streak of handshakes dating all the way back to the first time Gerald Ford faced Jimmy Carter in 1976. There were three debates that year, and footage of the second and third show handshakes between the rivals. It's probably a safe bet they shook hands in the first debate, too, but the video footage was incomplete. 

The handshake streak almost died during the second presidential debate of 2016, when Clinton and Trump kept to their sides of the stage at the start of the Oct. 9 event in St. Louis amid the fallout over Trump bringing women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. But the two candidates ended up keeping the tradition alive by shaking hands at the end.

That wasn't the case Wednesday night: Clinton and Trump avoided contact at the start and the end. That's probably an unprecedented moment -- or, more accurately, an unprecedented lack of a moment. 

Here's a look back at America's lost tradition of courteous greetings among its presidential candidates.

2016: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump


The one that almost got away: a handshake at the end, but not the beginning. 


(The awkward moment at the start.) 


The traditional greeting.

2012: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney


 A handshake, plus a hand on the elbow. Power move?




Continue reading "Clinton and Trump broke a tradition of debate handshakes. A look back at 40 years of greetings." »

October 19, 2016

Debate stunner: Trump refuses to say if he’ll accept election result


In an election characterized by remarkably unorthodox debates, the third and final night of Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump often offered much more traditional fare on policy and politics — until one of the two nominees for the presidency of the United States refused to say if he’d accept the results of the Nov. 8 election.

“I will look at it at the time,” Trump said.

When moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News, sounding aghast, pressed Trump on whether he would accept a peaceful transition, the hallmark of American democracy, Trump held fast: “I’ll keep you in suspense.”

“That’s horrifying,” Clinton interjected.

“Every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is, is rigged against him,” she said, rattling off a long list of examples. “There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row — and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged against him.”

“Should have gotten it,” Trump said.

Trump’s unprecedented refusal stood out in a 90-minute debate that Wallace kept tightly focused on the issues — a welcome change, perhaps, from the theatrics and mudslinging of the first two debates, though parts of Wednesday night also felt detached from the questions that have been driving the past few frenzied weeks of the presidential campaign.

More here.

Photo credit: John Locher, AP

Fact-checking Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the Las Vegas debate


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met for the third and final presidential debate of 2016, in the wake of Trump’s baseless claims of a rigged election and the release ofhacked emails from Clinton’s campaign manager.

Here are claims from the two candidates, fact-checked.

Trump: Illegal immigrants are treated better than vets.

This is False. Veterans are entitled to several more benefits that are not offered to civilians, much less undocumented immigrants, who aren’t eligible for Medicaid, Obamacare and Social Security and are barred from enrolling in colleges in some states

Trump: Obamacare premiums are going up 60, 70 percent.

Last year, Trump floated rates of 35 to 55 percent. Some insurance plans in the federal exchange will see price hikes at the levels that Trump is suggesting. But he was cherry-picking the high end of premium changes to come.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the standard insurance plan will increase by an average of 9 percent in 2017, with some cities seeing decreases of 13 percent while others see 25 percent.

Keep reading from PolitiFact.

Photo by the Associated Press

Kaine heads to Miami for first day of early voting


Hillary Clinton's campaign will send running mate Tim Kaine to Miami on Monday, the first day of early voting.

It's part of a two-day trip for Kaine, who on Sunday will attend events in Alachua and Orange counties. He'll also stop by Palm Beach on Monday. Kaine has made South Florida a frequent destination; he spent last weekend in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Democrats typically prefer voting early in person than by mail, and Clinton's team is doing everything it can to turn out its supporters during the two-week period (it's fewer days in other counties, where early voting won't begin until Oct. 29). Clinton will be in Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Three groups accuse Florida of violating federal 'motor voter' law

Three voting rights groups on Wednesday put the state of Florida on notice that it may file a lawsuit for alleged violations of the federal "motor voter" law.

In a release, Project Vote, Demos and the League of Women Voters of Florida said they notified the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) that it is violating federal law by not offering online customers a chance to register to vote as required by federal law, and that DHSMV is not meeting its voter registration obligations regarding changes of address that are done in person, by mail and online. The state agency is under the control of Gov. Rick Scott and the three elected Cabinet members.

According to the League's release, federal law "requires an 'opt out' system, in which an individual who changes their address through DHSMV will automatically have their voter registration information updated unless they specifically decline the update. None of the DHSMV address change methods comply with this requirement." Unless the state is willing to meet with the League to work out a corrective plan, "the groups plan to initiate litigation," the League said.

The League's release did not explain why it waited until 20 days before a presidential election to take action. DHSMV did not respond to the Times/Herald's request for comment Wednesday. "We are reviewing," an agency spokesman said.