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93 posts from September 11, 2016 - September 17, 2016

September 12, 2016

Miami-Dade mayor retains big fund-raising lead in first runoff report


Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez retains his significant advantage in fund-raising as he begins his fall runoff contest with challenger Raquel Regalado. The incumbent raised about $240,000 in the debut campaign-finance report for the two-person race, compared to about $66,000 for Regalado, according to publicly available reports. 

Gimenez's largest donations came from Norwegian Cruises, which rents a terminal in the county-owned Port Miami, and Turnberry, the company behind the Aventura Mall and the Fontainebleau Resort. Turnberry's aviation arm also rents a terminal at the county-owned Opa-locka Airport.  Both Norwegian and Turnberry gave $50,000 to Miami-Dade Residents First, Gimenez's political committee.

Regalado, a school board member and daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, saw her largest donation from Pacific Cable Television, a local company with ties to a national controversy over two brothers Ecuador wants extradited for alleged bank fraud. The company is owned by the family of Roberto and William Isaias, who were convicted of embezzlement in Ecuador. Their family members are significant donors in national races, including to President Barack Obama and Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, prompting national scrutiny over possible influence in the extradition fight. 

Pacific Cable gave $20,000 to Good Government in Miami-Dade, Regalado's political committee. 

The most recent reports cover the week between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2, dates which bookend the Aug. 30 primary that saw Gimenez fall about two points shy of crossing the 50-percent threshold needed to end the race. Instead, he's in a two-person runoff with Regalado, who took 32 percent of the vote. 

Heading into the fall runoff, Gimenez's campaign and committees have about $405,000 to spend, compared to $118,000 for Regalado. In all, Gimenez has raised about $4.8 million, and Regalado just over $1 million. 

Diaz de la Portilla releases commercials in Florida Senate race


With Democrats gunning for his Florida Senate seat, District 37 incumbent Miguel Diaz de la Portilla has released two commercials touting his support for the working class and pushing back against attacks that label him as beholden to special interests.

"Spectator politicians like to brand others as supportive of special interests," Diaz de la Portilla, wearing a blue dress shirt sans tie, says to the camera in one 30-second ad that touts endorsements from firefighters, nurses and teachers. " When you stand with your community, your community stands with you."

Continue reading "Diaz de la Portilla releases commercials in Florida Senate race" »

Marco Rubio lands a big fundraising guest: George W. Bush

FullSizeRender (10)@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio has snagged a Bush to raise money for him -- and it's not his former presidential rival, Jeb.

Former President George W. Bush will headline a pair of fundraisers for Rubio next month, the Miami Herald has learned.

On Oct. 14, Bush will be the "special guest" at a Miami luncheon for Rubio. He will then play the same role at a Palm Beach reception. The campaign has yet to announce the location for either event, but donors were sent "save the date" invitations Monday.

The Palm Beach event was first reported by the Palm Beach Post. Rubio's Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy, is a congressman in nearby Jupiter.

The minimum contribution requested to attend either gathering is $2,700. Give $25,000 and participate in a "chairman's roundtable and discussion" with Bush.

Jeb Bush backed Rubio's reelection campaign shortly after the senator decided to seek another Senate term in June.

SEIU backs Garcia for Congress, after siding with primary rival


Normally it would hardly be newsworthy for a major labor union to endorse a Democrat for Congress.

But the Service Employees International Union didn't back Joe Garcia in the primary for Florida's 26th congressional district. It backed his primary rival, Annette Taddeo, instead, a week before Garcia even entered the race. Garcia won

On Monday, SEIU formally threw its support behind him, backing the former congressman over the incumbent, Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

"Joe has the support of working families because working families know they can count on Joe," SEIU Florida Monica Russo said in a statement delivered by Garcia's campaign. "Joe has been in the trenches fighting alongside South Florida workers for years, advocating for higher wages, immigrant rights, affordable healthcare, women's right to choose, renewable energy, and more! He is not an average Joe, he is a champion for the working class."

Charges dropped against former Miami-Dade mayor after ex skips court

Carlos2 alvarez lnew cmg (2)via @DavidOvalle305

Former Miami-Dade mayor and police director Carlos Alvarez beat domestic-violence accusations Monday after his ex-girlfriend failed to show up to testify at trial.

Prosecutors had no choice but to drop the misdemeanor battery charge because they didn’t have the testimony of Evelyn Fernandez, a Miami-Dade police lieutenant with a long and tumultuous relationship with Alvarez.

Her absence wasn’t a surprise. Fernandez is facing her own criminal trial on allegations she broke into Alvarez’s Coral Gables condo. Had she been forced to testify against her former boyfriend, Fernandez had planned to invoke her right to remain silent.

Alvarez, donning his familiar guayabera shirt while talking to reporters outside Miami’s downtown family courthouse, insisted he was innocent. “Just a relief,” he said of the charge being dropped. “Hopefully we can both move on with our lives.”

More here.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, el Nuevo Herald

Republicans launch mail campaign against Patrick Murphy


The Republican Party of Florida and Americans for Prosperity -- a conservative political group funded by the Koch brothers -- have both sent out mailers in recent days urging Florida voters to oppose Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy in the November election.

In its mail piece, RPOF highlights the abortion positions for both Murphy and Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio. The mailer accuses Murphy of having an "extreme" record, while Rubio is "on the right side of life."

Rpof mailer 1    Rpof mailer 2

Party spokeswoman Yohana de la Torre wouldn't comment on the cost and distribution of the party's mailer.

Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen defended Murphy's position on abortion in a written statement, noting that "Marco Rubio opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and even if a mother has contracted the Zika virus."

"Patrick knows that this decision should always be between a woman, her family, her faith, and her doctor and it is Marco Rubio's extreme position that hurts Florida families," Slayen said.

Meanwhile, the AFP mailer alleges that Murphy supports an energy agenda that "threatens to make life more expensive" for Florida families.

"Patrick Murphy is more concerned with standing behind President (Barack) Obama’s job-killing, rate-hiking energy mandates than acknowledging the tough realities Florida families are facing every day trying to make ends meet," AFP's Florida director Chris Hudson said in a statement. "Murphy's ‘pay-more’ energy agenda could cost Florida thousands of energy jobs and force hardworking families to pay another $500 per year on their utilities." 

Afp mailer 2    Afp mailer 1

In response to AFP's mailer, Slayen criticized Rubio's stance on climate change.

"Marco Rubio has been too busy doing the bidding of the Koch brothers to care," Slayen said in a statement. "Of course, the Kochs and special interests are spending big to prop up their favorite senator, who is committed to their dirty energy agenda. Unlike Patrick, who will always fight to protect our environment, Marco Rubio won’t even acknowledge that the threat of climate change exists."

The mailer is part of a nationally coordinated effort by AFP -- which is funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch -- to attack Murphy's campaign, as well as Democratic candidates in other competitive U.S. Senate races.

Disclosure reports to the Federal Election Commission show AFP spent $121,500 on this anti-Murphy mailer. AFP also reported $113,000 in additional expenses so far in September against Murphy's campaign to pay for other mailers, phone banks, canvassing and staff salaries.

Both the AFP and RPOF mailers were sent to homes of Tallahassee voters who are registered as "no-party affiliation." The AFP's mailer was also received by a voter in Miami-Dade County.

Herald political writer Patricia Mazzei contributed to this story.

Environmental group touts Republican Curbelo in TV ads


The political arm of one of the country's largest environmental groups has cut TV ads in English and Spanish supporting Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo -- the first sign of outside money on the air in the competitive South Florida congressional race.

EDF Action, an arm of the moderate Environmental Defense Fund, recently announced its plans to back Curbelo's reelection. His district, the southernmost in Florida, is surrounded by the Florida Everglades, the Florida Keys and Biscayne National Park. 

"Congressman Curbelo has been a strong voice for climate action and clean energy," EDF Action President Elizabeth Thompson said in an Aug. 29 statement. "If we're going to solve this great challenge, we'll need bipartisan support -- and leaders like Carlos Curbelo. He recognizes that clean energy jobs are booming and it's time that the Sunshine State got its fair share."

Curbelo faces a Democratic challenge from former Rep. Joe Garcia.


NRA flier defends Rubio

via @learyreports

NRA mail supporting Marco Rubio hit mailboxes in Florida over the weekend.

Disclosure reports show the NRA has spent about $423,000 so far backing Rubio's re-election campaign.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Trump hits Clinton for 'deplorables' remark in Florida TV ad


Donald Trump's campaign wasted no time putting together a TV ad to blast rival HIllary Clinton for saying at a fundraiser Friday that "half" of Trump's supporters fall into a "basket of deplorables." (Clinton has since apologized for referring to "half" of Trump's fans that way.)

"You know what's deplorable?" says the TV ad. "Hillary Clinton viciously demonizing hardworking people like you."

The ad will run in Florida, according to the Trump campaign, and in and several other battleground states: North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.


Trump met Florida's tea party in 2011 and saw a path to 2016

Trump pix
via @learyreports

Donald Trump hurried off stage, leaving a sweltering, pumped-up crowd, and slid into the air-conditioned shelter of a black limousine.

“Wow! That was unbelievable,” he said to longtime aide Roger Stone. “There’s something here.”

Trump’s raw and freewheeling message captivated 2,000 tea party activists gathered in Boca Raton on April 16, 2011. While many came for the spectacle, they left energized by his blow-up-politics-as-usual style, a contention that America was being played for suckers by China and other countries, condemnations of illegal immigration and conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama’s birthplace.

“The world is laughing at us,” Trump said, wearing a blue suit, white shirt and pink tie, the wind tossing his signature mane. (“At least you know it’s my real hair, right?”) “We have to take our country back.”

In the annals of Trump — developer, playboy, author, "Apprentice" star, Republican presidential nominee — what happened that day has been largely overlooked. It was an awakening for a man, now 70, who long craved legitimacy in politics, the unconquered chapter of his quintessentially American life.

A political outsider eager to take on the machine and the media, the tea party spoke to Trump, too. Ultimately he took a pass on running for president in 2012, but the experience showed Trump a path he now barrels down.

“That was the only way he could get in the door, if he was anti-establishment,” said Pam Wohlschlegel, a tea party leader who helped organize the event. “I think it was sincere and brilliant. He planted the seeds.”

More here.

Photo credit: Lynne Sladky, Associated Press