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461 posts from August 2016

August 31, 2016

Curbelo touts bipartisanship in first TV ad


U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo will kick off TV advertising for his tough reelection campaign Thursday by comparing elusive bipartisanship in Congress with the upcoming college football season.

The Miami Republican's first TV spot shows him and his wife, Cecilia, in their kitchen -- she sporting University of Florida colors, he in a University of Miami polo.

"You can't let rivalry turn to bitterness," Curbelo says into the camera, alluding to fights among Republicans and Democrats. "For Washington politicians, party always comes first and solutions last. That's not me."

The kicker: "I don't care who scores, as long as it's a win for our community."

The ad is set to begin airing with the start of college football games -- and just two days after Democratic primary voters chose former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia to challenge Curbelo. Garcia, who lost to Curbelo two years ago, has long cast the Republican as a hardline conservative. Curbelo has worked assiduously to avoid that label and is running as an unabashed moderate in the newly redrawn, Democratic-leaning 26th congressional district.


Fundraising email for Miami-Dade mayor asked for checks "one last time." Then came the runoff.


How confident was Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's camp heading into Tuesday's primary, which saw the incumbent forced into a November runoff with Raquel Regalado?

Gimenez's chief fundraiser sent out an email the week before telling donors they only had a little bit of time left to make a donation before the effort came to an end.

"Well, I know you are going to miss all my fundraising emails for Mayor Carlos Gimenez's re-election," finance director Brian Goldmeier wrote donors on Aug. 24, six days before Tuesday's primary. "However, sadly, this will be my last."

Of course, it won't be.

Gimenez needed to cross the 50-percent threshold to end the race Tuesday night. After Gimenez finished with 48 percent of the vote in the seven-candidate field, he's facing a nine-week contest with Regalado, a school-board member, before Election Day on November. And with most of Gimenez's $4.5 million war chest drained, Goldmeier must revisit the mayor's donor base for a quick refueling of campaign cash for the two-candidate runoff.  

But there was no hint of a possible long haul in last Wednesday's email.

"Tomorrow, Aug. 25th, is the last day that we will be able to collect any contributions for the Mayor's campaign," Goldmeier wrote, "so please consider joining us at the Biltmore one last time to drop off a check."

This post was updated to remove an image of the email from Brian Goldmeier mentioned above. The image had over-sized type that the source had added to emphasize certain words in the original email. 



Now both GOP candidates for Miami-Dade mayor say they're not voting for Trump


Pushed into a run-off against a rival who has already denounced Donald Trump, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said for the first time Wednesday he was not planning to vote for the GOP nominee.

Gimenez was forced into a November race Tuesday with challenger Raquel Regalado after no candidate crossed the 50-percent mark in the seven-person primary for county mayor. Both are Republicans, but Regalado, a school board member, said before the primary that supporting Trump “was a non-starter” given his immigration position.

In a round of post-primary interviews Wednesday, Gimenez offered a less definitive statement. But it still was the first time Gimenez suggested Trump wouldn’t get his vote in November.

“I don’t see myself voting for him,” he said outside his suite of offices on County Hall’s 29th Floor in downtown Miami. He declined to say whether he could see himself voting for Hillary Clinton. “The presidential election really is not on my mind right now. It’s on my reelection in November.”

Read the story here

A Miami tradition: Electing troubled candidates

Pjimage (8)


Miami-Dade County voters decided Tuesday that a candidate with 19 arrests, a candidate who has been investigated for Medicare fraud and a candidate still under suspicion of violating federal law by secretly financing a ringer campaign were all worthy of winning election.

Roy Hardemon is heading to Tallahassee as a state representative despite his lengthy rap sheet. He has no opponent in November.

Daphne Campbell is poised to move up to the state Senate from the state House despite her home healthcare business being shut down by the state. She defeated five rivals and now faces an independent candidate.

And David Rivera, a former congressman, is close to returning to the state House, where he began his political career alongside Marco Rubio, despite the ongoing federal criminal investigation into his 2012 reelection campaign. A Democrat with no political experience is the only thing that stands in his way.

In state legislative races, local voters seem to love a good political redemption story.

“It does say a lot about South Florida — and our society in general — that 33 or 34 percent of the electorate decided to vote for David Rivera,” said Emiliano Antunez, the campaign manager for Rivera’s chief primary rival, Kendall businessman Anthony Rodriguez.

Bill Clinton returns to Miami next week for fundraising


Bill Clinton will be hitting up Miami donors again after Labor Day weekend.

The former president is scheduled to attend an evening event on Sept. 7 to benefit Hillary Clinton's campaign. The rumored location is the Fillmore Miami Beach.

Donors who contribute at the highest level -- by cutting a $10,000 check or raising $27,000 -- get "premium" seating and a photo with Bill Clinton, according to an invitation obtained by the Miami Herald. The minimum requested contribution is $250, with a limited number of tickets for young professionals available for $45 each.

Clinton is slated to later attend a high-dollar dinner -- $50,000 a plate -- at the home of Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

Clinton fundraised in Florida on his wife's behalf in April, and in Miami in February.

Photo credit: Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS

Miami Beach man gets 10 years for running prostitution ring



A Miami Beach man was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in federal prison for running an escort service called "International Playmates" from a Fort Lauderdale hotel.

Miguel A. Hernandez, 50. had pleaded guilty in May before U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami federal court to charges linked to prostitution, including bringing Spanish, Columbian, Venezuelan and other Latin American women into the country for his illegal enterprise.

"To facilitate the operation, Hernandez and his associates reserved and paid for plane tickets for foreign nationals to enter the United States, completed immigration paperwork, coached foreign nationals on what to say to customs officials when entering the United States and picked foreign national up at the airport," the U.S Justice Department said in announcing the sentence.

Hernandez had previously been convicted and sentenced to six years in prison in his native country of Spain for immigration fraud, but he'd fled to the United States before serving his sentence.

"This case is a testament to our shared goal of bringing traffickers to justice and vindicating the rights of vulnerable women and girls exploited for financial gain," Vanita Gupta, head of DOJ's civil rights division, said.

For more details:

Photo credit: David J. Neal, Miami Herald



Our Revolution: We lost a big one in Florida


Tim Canova's biggest backer who propelled him to a $3 million warchest -- U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders -- never showed up to campaign for Canova. And in the end, Canova lost to U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Sanders' newly formed group that works to help progressive candidates -- Our Revolution -- put out a statement about races won and lost including Canova's. Here is part of the statement:

"Sisters and Brothers -

Last night was a tremendous night for our political revolution. Out of the five progressive primary campaigns we supported, three were victorious. But we did lose one, a big one, in Florida: Tim Canova against Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

As we move forward into the next chapter of our political revolution, we are going to win some elections, and we are going to lose some elections. But through it all, as Bernie said, our job is to transform the Democratic Party and this country. And it's our job to hold elected officials accountable when they work against the progressive values we all share.

During this race, Debbie Wasserman Schultz changed her position on a number of important issues, including fracking. And because of the challenge we gave her, you can expect a more fair and impartial Democratic National Committee in the next presidential primary."

Here is what Wasserman Schultz said about fracking during a debate and later in a statement to the Miami Herald.

The statement did mention that one other candidate it backed in South Florida won: Dwight Bullard who won a state Senate race.

- Photo by Sun Sentinel

Not one, not two, but three machine recounts expected

State and county voting officials say machine recounts will be required in three of Florida's closest primary races.

They are the Democratic primary in Senate District 19 in Tampa Bay; a race for circuit judge in the 4th Judicial Circuit in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties; and the Democratic primary in Congressional District 2 in 19 counties stretching from Marion County to the Panhandle.

That last one could be a major logistical challenge because many of the counties in CD 2 are also smack in the path of Tropical Storm Hermine, which is predicted to make landfall somewhere in the Big Bend region on Thursday.

The counties, some of them in the low-lying coastal Big Bend area that's highly prone to flooding, are Bay, Calhoun, Columbia, Dixie, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Marion, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington. As of Wednesday, six of them said their county courthouses would be closed Thursday. They are Dixie, Gilchrist, Gulf, Lafayette, Levy and Taylor.

The Democratic congressional primary between Steve Crapps and Walter Dartland ended with the two candidates separated by two-tenths of a percentage point after more than 60,000 votes cast, with Dartland, a consumer advocate and former assistant attorney general, holding a precarious 137-vote lead. The Democratic nominee will face Republican Neal Dunn in November in a district that favors Republicans.

The third race that's too close to call involves Circuit Judge Mark Hulsey and Gerald Wilkerson, with Hulsey holding a slight lead. All three races were cited in an email Wednesday from Maria Matthews, director of the state Division of Elections, to Florida's 67 county supervisors of elections.



Rubio challenges Murphy to six debates; Murphy offers his own counter-challenge

Rubio murphy


UPDATE: 2:20 p.m.

Since Marco Rubio challenged Patrick Murphy this morning to six debates, the U.S. Senate candidates have been trading barbs all day.

Murphy initially responded to Rubio this morning by proposing a counter-challenge -- that Rubio commit to serving a full six-year term, if elected. (It's something that Rubio, as recently as Monday, continues to be vague and non-committal about, prompting criticism that he's already interested in running for president again in 2020.)

Murphy said in a statement he was "excited to debate Marco Rubio" but called Rubio's proposal "nothing more than a desperate attempt to try and change the campaign narrative from the fact that he abandoned Florida."

At a press conference soon after in West Palm Beach, Murphy told reporters he won't commit to the six debates Rubio wants unless Rubio agrees to his counter-challenge.

"I'm going to take his challenge seriously," Murphy said. "We've already agreed to one debate, I'm looking forward to that and our teams are going to continue, you know, talking to hash out the details there. There are going to be multiple debates."

Rubio's campaign then accused Murphy of "ducking debates already."

"Just one day into the general election and Patrick Murphy is already making excuses about ducking debates," Rubio campaign manager Clint Reed said in a statement. "Marco believes Floridians deserve to know where each candidate stands on important issues facing our state and nation, but apparently Murphy doesn't agree. What is he so scared of?"

Rubio's campaign told the Tampa Bay Times today that it had accepted an invitation for a debate, possibly in early October.

Herald reporter Alex Daugherty and Times reporter Alex Leary contributed to this report.

ORIGINAL POST: 8:15 a.m.

Game on.

Wasting no time after their primary night victories, Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio challenged Democrat Patrick Murphy this morning to six live, televised debates before the November election.

Rubio said this is what the 2010 candidates agreed to. He wants the media to sponsor the debates, including one by a Spanish-language outlet.

Asked last week about debating Rubio, Murphy said "yes, absolutely" but he didn't commit to any specifics at the time. Murphy said their campaigns would negotiate the details.

Minutes after Murphy's primary race was called last night, his campaign announced a 10 a.m. press conference in West Palm Beach, signaling his own official start to the general election campaign.

Here's Rubio's letter to Murphy today: 

Continue reading "Rubio challenges Murphy to six debates; Murphy offers his own counter-challenge" »

Alan Grayson lost badly, but he says he'll be back


16692667U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson lost pretty handily in Tuesday night' Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate.

Grayson, D-Orlando, took 17.7 percent of the vote, just ahead of Pam Keith, who has never run for office before. Not a great showing for a Democrat with the backing of the party's progressive wing.

But, Grayson says, he'll be back. He told the Times/Herald he wants to keep pushing senior issues and to start advocating for felons to have their voting rights restored in Florida.

As an elected official? Or as a lawyer?

"All of the above," he said. "As a political leader."

After all, he lost his 2010 congressional reelection and then won the seat in 2012.

And there are some parts of the state where despite his loss last night, Grayson maintains support.

Democrats in his congressional district supported Grayson over Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Democratic nominee, even while rejecting his wife, Dena Grayson, in her congressional bid.

Grayson came out on top in seven counties, which he says he's keeping in mind as he prepares his next move: Osceola, Orange, Washington, Calhoun, Holmes, Jackson and Liberty.

Photo: Zach Gibson/The New York Times