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471 posts from October 2016

October 31, 2016

A rundown of Miami-Dade's judicial races

via @KyraGurney

Two circuit court judicial races are headed for a runoff on Nov. 8, with a former assistant state attorney and assistant public defender facing off in one race and a former U.S. Navy lawyer running against a Miami-Dade prosecutor in the other.

Mark Blumstein and Luis Perez-Medina beat two other contenders in a tight Aug. 30 primary race for the seat of Judge Gill Freeman, who retired this year. They are in Group 34.

Blumstein, 47, is a former Surfside commissioner who has also served as a U.S. Navy lawyer. He opened his own law firm, Blumstein & Associates, in 2008 and focuses on civil and commercial cases, including class-action lawsuits.

In the Navy, Blumstein served as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. He is a champion of the Veterans Court, a new initiative in Miami-Dade aimed at helping former soldiers navigate the court system.

“I’m probably the most unique candidate running for judge in that I have military experience, as well as private-sector litigation experience,” Blumstein said. “My motivation for running is obviously service-driven, specifically to assist veterans in our community.”

Perez-Medina, 56, has been an assistant state attorney since 2006. He has supervised felony attorneys and tried homicide cases, among other assignments, and worked his way up to the Public Corruption Unit, where he oversees investigations.

More here.

South Florida's voter fraud without a scorecard

Absentee Rejects TC

via @glenngarvin

If the news that two Miami women were arrested on allegations of voting fraud Thursday seemed a little bit déjà vu-ish, that’s because you really had seen it before. South Florida has been humming a ballad of ballot banditry for many years. Here’s a brief scorecard of some of the most well-known cases of the past couple of decades.

More here.

Photo credit: Tim Chapman, Miami Herald file

After election, whither Academica's Tallahassee political power?


via @KyraGurney

One of Florida’s largest for-profit charter school management companies, Academica, has long enjoyed considerable influence in the state Legislature. Until last year, two Academica employees served as state lawmakers — and the brother-in-law of the company’s founder also held the education purse strings in the House.

The November election puts the company’s clout at risk and, at least potentially, could have broader implications for a booming charter school industry that has claimed a significant share of state taxpayer dollars.

Academica runs more than 100 schools in Florida and makes $158 million a year in total revenue from its South Florida schools alone, including $9 million annually in management fees, according to 2011 estimates.

It’s a big industry, one that critics say has profited from well-placed political supporters in Tallahassee. For Academica, the biggest loss is Rep. Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican who is outgoing chair of the House education budget subcommittee — term-limited after eight years. He is the brother-in-law of Academica founder and executive Fernando Zulueta, and has worked as a consultant for Civica, an architecture firm that specializes in building charter schools.

Two other Miami lawmakers with close ties to the company are also facing challengers who could have a shot.

More here.

GOP super PAC spends another $3M in fresh ad attack against 'Party Boy Patrick' Murphy



A national Republican super PAC has launched a new attack ad against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy, which is airing in Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

The Senate Leadership Fund debuted the ad Saturday as part of a new $3.2 million ad buy in the final 10 days of the election. The group is spending $11 million in all on TV advertising this fall to tear down Murphy as he challenges Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

In its new ad, the Senate Leadership Fund dubs the two-term Jupiter congressman "Party Boy Patrick" and attacks him for embellishing his academic and professional résumés and for being among the "least effective" members of Congress.

PolitiFact has looked at ads using similar attacks before: on Murphy embellishing his University of Miami degree ("Mostly True"), on him exaggerating his business experience (It's complicated), and on him being an ineffective congressman ("Mostly False").

MORE from PolitiFact: "No, Patrick Murphy, PolitiFact did not debunk every attack against you"

Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen called the ad "false and desperate."

"Marco Rubio and his allies are getting desperate as the polls have tightened and Patrick's campaign has the momentum," Slayen said.

While Murphy was able to narrow Rubio's lead during October, Rubio still holds the advantage in the race and could actually be widening that, according to two new polls released Sunday.

Murphy's campaign has routinely tried to discredit attacks on Murphy's résumé, with Murphy repeating falsely during two recent debates that PolitiFact had debunked "all" of them. That's not the case.

SLF's ad closes with a controversial image of Murphy that Rubio publicized in their first debate: a several years-old image of Murphy appearing to grab the breast of, according to his campaign, a former college girlfriend. Rubio tried to use it against Murphy but it got little traction after Rubio's initial mention of it.

 Image credit: Senate Leadership Fund / YouTube

October 30, 2016

Hillary Clinton vows to fight for underdogs in South Florida



Hillary Clinton campaigned before African-American and LGBTQ voters in Broward County Sunday, two reliable Democratic voting blocs.

Her overall message to an African-American church in Fort Lauderdale and a gay club in Wilton Manors was the same: she will fight against discrimination while she accused Donald Trump of stoking it.

“Donald Trump has insulted more than half our population,” she said at the Manors Complex club, listing African Americans, Latinos, POWs and women. “I have been fighting for families and underdogs my entire life. I’m not stopping now.”

Clinton tweaked her messages for the two separate audiences. She talked about how the LGBT community continues to face discrimination at work and her desire to preserve the right of same-sex marriage while she praised the New Mount Olive Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale for working to improve neglected neighborhoods and spoke about her calls to reform the criminal justice system and invest in early childhood education.

Clinton, who is Methodist, quoted Scripture at the church.

“Scripture tells you when there is no vision the people perish,” Clinton said, and then said she would edit that message. “When there is negative, hateful, divisive vision the people also perish.”

Keep reading here.

Rubio says he 'probably could not' support TPP


Marco Rubio on Sunday came closer than he ever has to rejecting the Trans-Pacific Partnership he once supported, saying in a local TV interview that if a vote came up today, he would likely vote No.

"As it currently stands, I probably could not support it," Rubio, a Florida Republican, said on WFOR-TV's "Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede." He cited a number of "concerns," calling it a "massive deal" whose intent -- more free trade with Asia -- he nevertheless supports.

Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times in August that he still hadn't made a "final determination" on the proposed deal. He had praised the TPP in 2015 but started hedging on his position in January.

His Senate rival, Democrat Patrick Murphy, opposes the TPP.

Rubio: Clinton mishandling classified info more likely than Trump launching nuclear codes


Marco Rubio famously -- or infamously -- said as a Republican presidential candidate that he wouldn't trust Donald Trump with the nation's nuclear launch codes.

He has never backed away from that position, despite of his continued support for Trump over Hillary Clinton.

Pressed on that position in a WFOR-TV new interview Sunday morning, Rubio said it's more likely for a President Clinton to mishandle classified information than for a President Trump to have to launch nuclear weapons.

"I have deep concerns about her handling of classified information, which, in fact, in the real daily -- on a daily basis -- is actually much likelier than either one of these two people starting a nuclear war," Rubio said on "Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede."

"What's likely is she would mishandle classified information -- or, in her pattern of secrecy, she would create a governmental scandal that would create incredibly uncertainty in our country, as you are seeing now in this campaign," he continued. "Imagine now if the two months into her presidency, Hillary Clinton is indicted, the kind of trauma that would put our country through."

The interview hardly touched on Rubio's rival, Democrat Patrick Murphy.

Breakfast with Trump: Doral fundraiser planned for Wednesday

FullSizeRender (22)@PatriciaMazzei

Six days before the election, Donald Trump will be in his Miami-area golf resort, collecting checks from well-heeled political donors.

His campaign has scheduled a breakfast fundraiser at Trump National Doral.

Trump has yet to set any public events timed with the visit, he's expected to do so, given Florida's close poll numbers.

His running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will travel Monday to Cocoa, Maitland and Clearwater.

Two polls released Sunday show Marco Rubio with widening lead over Patrick Murphy

Murphyrubio_1026 debate5


Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio could be widening what was recently a narrow lead over Democrat Patrick Murphy, according to two new statewide polls released Sunday.

Rubio had a 9 percentage-point lead in the latest New York Times Upshot / Siena poll of Florida, and he led Murphy by 8 percentage points in a new NBC / Wall Street Journal / Marist survey.

Both polls were conducted last week, during the same time period three other polls were done -- two of which also had Rubio leading (albeit by narrower margins) and one that had them tied.

Both campaigns are, not unsurprisingly, promoting only the polls that favor their position.

Rubio has touted these two new polls, along with a mid-October Bloomberg poll that had Rubio 10 points up, as showing him running away with the race. Meanwhile, Murphy -- as recently as Sunday -- has said the race is "dead tied" between him and Rubio -- a reference to two polls in October that found the pair evenly matched.

Murphy has not led in any of the more than 30 statewide polls that have been conducted since Rubio re-entered the race in late June.

In the new NBC/WSJ/Marist survey, Rubio had 51 percent support among 779 likely voters surveyed, compared to 43 percent support for Murphy. Four percent supported another candidate and 2 percent were undecided. The results had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. (Among registered voters, Rubio's advantage was the same.)

By comparison, the previous NBC/WSJ/Marist survey three weeks prior had Rubio up by just 2 percentage points, which indicates he's growing his lead.

For the new NYT Upshot / Siena poll of 814 likely voters, Rubio led Murphy 51 percent to 42 percent. Five percent were undecided and 2 percent said they wouldn't vote in the race. The survey, done Oct. 25-27, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

“Marco Rubio is running 7 points ahead of Donald Trump in Florida and has established himself as a front-runner to keep his seat in the Senate,” said Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

Before these two polls were released Sunday, Rubio still held an edge over Murphy but polls indicated Murphy was narrowing the gap in October.

Image credit: AP

Clinton schedules Tuesday rally in Fort Lauderdale


Here's how you know Florida's presidential race is tight, tight, tight: The candidates and their top defenders plan to essentially camp out in the Sunshine State this week.

Hillary Clinton will campaign Tuesday night in Fort Lauderdale, her campaign said Sunday as Clinton concluded a full weekend in Florida. She'll hold a rally to promote early voting at 8:45 p.m. at Reverend Samuel Delevoe Memorial Park, following a pair of events that day in Tampa and Orlando.

On the same day, former President Bill Clinton will stump in Miami-Dade County. He'll also be in Collier and Pinellas counties.

Donald Trump will be fundraising in Miami on Wednesday, though his schedule doesn't list any public events yet.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama will hold another rally for Clinton.