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78 posts from September 4, 2016 - September 10, 2016

September 10, 2016

New districts mean big Miami battle for Florida Senate

@NewsbySmiley

Heading into last month’s primary election, voters from Palmetto Bay to Miami were bombarded with political ads from the campaigns of two competing state Senate candidates touting progressive credentials like education funding and environmental regulation.

But the race for Senate District 37 wasn’t on the Aug. 30 ballot. Nor is it a competition between two Democrats.

Rather, a statewide redrawing of Florida’s Senate districts has set the table for a November clash between Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, a three-term Republican incumbent with a big name and independent streak, and José Javier Rodríguez, a two-term state representative and “rising star” in the Democratic party. (A third candidate, Mercedes Christian, has no party affiliation and no money.)

The race is already among the most competitive and contentious in the state. And in a presidential election sure to draw out its base, the Democratic party is running hard after the seat — and Diaz de la Portilla is running hard to the center.

Read more here.

There are problems with how Florida is reporting Zika cases

via @dchangmiami

For months, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and state agencies have reported almost daily on the public health crisis posed by the spread of Zika.

From the first three travel-related cases identified in January, to the emergence of local Zika infections in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood in July, followed by the discovery of mosquitoes infected with the virus in Miami Beach in September, the governor and state officials have vowed to keep Floridians informed so they can prepare.

“We're going to put out accurate and timely information,” Scott told a group of reporters following a Zika roundtable with civic leaders in Miami Beach in August. “We want everybody to be prepared. We all have to take this seriously.”

But the information issued by the governor and state agencies has not been timely or accurate — cases announced as “new” are often several weeks old, due to a time lag in diagnosis — and excludes details that public health experts say would allow people to make informed decisions and provide a complete picture of Zika’s foothold in Florida.

“I don’t think the message has been strong enough, in terms of ‘We have a problem’,” said Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics for New York University Langone Medical Center. “It makes no sense — unless you see it through the eyes of the impact on tourism. I think that’s money driving reporting rather than public health.”

Over the past month, as local Zika infections have spread beyond Miami-Dade, with cases cropping up in Broward, Palm Beach and Pinellas counties, Florida officials have:

▪ Stopped providing detailed information on epidemiological investigations into local Zika infections;

▪ Refused to identify all the locations where Zika-positive mosquitoes were trapped in Miami Beach;

▪ And under-reported the number of local Zika infections in Florida by excluding anyone who is not a state resident.

More here.

Miami-Dade mayor accuses challenger of trying to "shamelessly exploit" Zika crisis

@doug_hanks

The Zika divide in the Miami-Dade mayoral race may be the sharpest of all, with challenger Raquel Regalado on Thursday coming out against Mayor Carlos Gimenez's decision to spar aerial insecticide over Miami Beach over the objections of some residents. Read this first wave of that coverage here

Late Friday, Gimenez issued a statement that accused Regalado of choosing political opportunism over public health. "It is clear Ms. Regalado only seeks to shamelessly exploit Zika for political gain through demagogic and incendiary statements," Gimenez wrote. He likened Regalado's Zika statement to her using the June nightclub shootings in Orlando to critique the mayor's police budget in an email to supporters that asked for campaign donations.

"Ms. Regalado's objective is to create confusion and fear instead of addressing people's concerns," Gimenez wrote. He noted Regalado, a school board member, did not object to aerial spraying in Miami, home of the first Zika outbreak, earlier in the summer. Regalado's father, Tomás Regalado, is mayor of Miami.  

UPDATED University of Miami wifi blocked Trump's website -- but not Clinton's

Trump

@PatriciaMazzei

Something strange happened until Saturday morning when users tried to visit donaldjtrump.com from the University of Miami: His website got blocked.

“The site you are attempting to visit was found to be unsafe or pose harm to your system and/or device,” said the alert message that popped up instead.

No such problem arose for users who went to hillaryclinton.com.


Clinton

The problem was identified late Friday on Twitter by the UM College Republicans.

A Miami Herald reporter using the university’s guest wifi network Saturday morning confirmed that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s website was inaccessible — while Hillary Clinton’s was not.

Alerted to the problem, a UM spokeswoman said the university’s information technology problem would investigate. A few hours later, the university issued a statement saying UM’s network had automatically blocked the site after detecting “malicious activity.” The school has since manually “whitelisted” donaldjtrump.com so that it is once again accessible.

“The issue was addressed immediately and we whitelisted the site as soon as this was brought to our attention,” spokeswoman Megan M. Ondrizek said. “We are still investigating the main cause, but it appears that there was malicious activity on the website which caused it to be blocked automatically.”

This post has been updated, as has been its headline, to reflect UM's response.

The general election contest Patrick Murphy faces now

Murphy primary nite 5 - richard graulich pbp

@ByKristenMClark & @JeremySWallace

This isn’t the U.S. Senate campaign Patrick Murphy anticipated.

When he declared his candidacy in March 2015, the two-term Democratic congressman from Jupiter was poised to run for an open seat while Republican incumbent Marco Rubio sought the presidency.

Over the next 15 months, Murphy enjoyed the pole position in Florida’s Senate race.

He was unofficially blessed as the Democratic establishment’s pick to help the party win back control of the Senate.

Democratic figureheads and party loyalists showered him with endorsements and donations. He reliably led his primary opponents and consistently polled comfortably ahead in hypothetical matchups against five Republican hopefuls — each of whom failed to stand out in their own primary contest.

Entering this summer, Murphy had the potential to cap off a fierce primary battle with fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and then relatively coast through the general election to a seat in the U.S. Senate.

But Murphy’s smooth ride was quickly upended.

More here.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / Palm Beach Post

September 09, 2016

GOP says it has 200 field organizers in Florida

@PatriciaMazzei

Ahead of a planned voter-outreach operation Saturday, the Republican National Committee outlined to reporters its ongoing efforts to help Donald Trump and other Republicans get elected in November.

The party has taken political heat for having far fewer field offices across the country than Democrats and Hillary Clinton. But RNC communications chief Sean Spicer said that's by design, because the GOP has focused on contacting voters face-to-face rather than by phone. Phone-banking is a top reason for opening offices.

"Offices don't vote," Spicer said in a conference call. "People do."

In Florida, the party has more than 200 field organizers, according to national political director Chris Carr. Twenty-seven offices will eventually be open by the time the campaign is in full force. 

Trump's team is inaugurating a couple of Broward offices in the coming days. His campaign has organized door-to-door canvassing teams to go out Saturday.

 

Broward to offer maximum early voting hours

Voting (1)

@amysherman1

Broward County will offer the maximum number of early voting hours in advance of the presidential election -- longer than initially planned.

The county will offer early voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday, Oct. 24 through Sunday, Nov. 6.

A brochure on the website of the Broward Supervisor of Elections states that early voting hours will be from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. for two weeks.

The Miami Herald had asked Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes if she planned to keep those hours after Miami-Dade County announced it would offer the maximum 168 hours of early voting. Snipes' assistant told us in an email today that "early voting hours will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for a period of 14 days."

There had been some discussions among Democrats about whether the county needed the maximum number of early voting hours.

Sen. Chris Smith, who lost his race for County Commission, said he spoke with Snipes about early voting during the primary which drew only 16 percent turnout -- the lowest in the state.

"I mentioned to her the general will be much different and she needs to maximize the hours," Smith said. "She said she was looking into it."

Election supervisors have until Oct. 9th to set the hours. Statewide early voting doesn't have to begin until Oct. 29.

There were long lines during the 2012 election which prompted a change in state law to allow more early voting hours. Broward has about 1.1 million registered voters -- including the highest number of Democrats in the state -- so it is expected to turn out in large numbers for the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Election day is Nov. 8th, but it's possible that half or more of voters will cast ballots before election day at early voting sites or by mail.

- Patricia Mazzei contributed to this article

 

Scott reschedules trip to D.C. to lobby for Zika funding

@PatriciaMazzei

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will travel to Washington on Tuesday to ask Congress to set aside money to fight the Zika virus, his office said Friday.

The governor was supposed to go to Capitol Hill this week, when lawmakers returned from their summer recess, but he stayed behind in Tallahassee to deal with Hurricane Hermine cleanup.

Scott will remain in D.C. through Wednesday.

Trump campaign to hold 'Day of Action' in Broward Saturday

Trump_in_SunriseMH

Florida's bluest county will see a whole lot of Donald Trump campaign action Saturday.

The campaign for the Republican will open it's first Broward County office in Fort Lauderdale, organize volunteers at multiple fast food and coffee shops across the county and bring a campaign RV to a Haitian community event. 

The "Day of Action" includes organizing volunteers in multiple Broward cities to go door-knocking, according to an email sent to the Broward Republican Executive Committee. Door-knocking is also planned in Hispanic neighborhoods in Miami-Dade County.

A Trump campaign RV will stop by the Haitian Community Resource Fair at Franklin Park, 2501 Franklin Drive, in Fort Lauderdale from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

The Trump campaign will hold a grand opening of its first South Florida office on Saturday afternoon at 800 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale at 1 p.m.

The Trump campaign also plans to open an office at 1401 University Drive #301 Coral Springs on Sept. 13, according to an email sent to Broward Republicans from Dolly T. Rump, the Broward County chair for Trump campaign. The grand opening will be held from 5-8 p.m.

In total, seven Trump offices are expected to open soon in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Adam Putnam recalls being with President Bush on 9/11

@PatriciaMazzei

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was a freshman member of Congress during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- and he was with then-President George W. Bush in Sarasota when Bush learned about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. He later joined the president on Air Force One.

Putnam retells the story about that day in a gripping oral history published by Politico Magazine on Friday, two days before the 15-year anniversary of the attacks.

Rep. Adam Putnam: [Rep. Dan Miller and I] went up to the president’s cabin and he gave us a briefing. He told us that “One way or another” all but a couple planes were accounted for. That was his phrase “one way or another.” He told us Air Force One was headed to Barksdale and was going to drop us off there. When we left the cabin, I turned to Dan and said, “Didn’t you think that was an odd phrase?” He didn’t notice it. I said “‘One way or another,’ that sounds like that there’s more to it than that.” I said, “Do you think there’s any way we shot them down?” We were left hanging.

More here.