Mitch Perry, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 332

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

Shawn Harrison brings in more than $36,000 in June for re-election bid

Shawn Harrison narrowly avoided losing his House District 63 seat last year. Heading into the 2018 election cycle, Democrats are fired up about a “wave” election they say will help them win the seat.

Harrison is fully aware of that, which is why he’s stepping up fundraising efforts early in the election cycle, raking in $36,178 in last month.

Harrison has now raised $55.678 for the cycle.

A great deal of those contributions come from political committees or organizations, including law enforcement. Harrison received $1,000 contributions each from the Florida Public Benevolent Association (PBA), Tampa Police PBA, West Central PBA and Sun Coast PBA PAC.

Harrison hosted a fundraiser late in June at the Tampa Theatre featuring Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Harrison defeated Democrat Lisa Montelione by less than two percentage points last November. No Democrat has entered the race.

Six Florida congressional Democrats now support single-payer health care system

As Senate Republicans return to Washington this week, looking to salvage their attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, support grows among Democrats for a single-payer health care system.

The co-sponsor count for Michigan Democrat John Conyers‘ “Medicare for All” bill now stands at 113, nearly twice as many as last year. One of those new Democratic co-sponsors is Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor.

Castor signed on to the legislation in April, joined by five other Florida Democrats this year: Alcee Hastings, Frederica Wilson, Al Lawson, Darren Soto and Ted Deutch. 

In a brief interview Monday after speaking with health care officials in Tampa on the opioid epidemic, Castor said that while she knows that such legislation won’t be passed anytime soon in a Republican-controlled Congress, she thinks now is the time to look for alternatives to bring down escalating costs of health care in America.

Under a single-payer system, all Americans would have health coverage, while the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates 22 million people would become uninsured under the Senate GOP health care plan.

Republicans believe support for the issue can hurt Democrats at the polls.

Although Florida Senator Bill Nelson doesn’t support such a plan, the fact that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren does was enough for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) to run a Facebook ad last week linking the two lawmakers.

Citing Warren’s recent comments on getting behind a single-payer plan, the ad’s narrator says such a system “would be absolutely devastating for Florida families and businesses.”

Castor noted that she has previously supported a government public-option plan.

The idea of a public option is to create a separate, government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers offering coverage through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders included versions of the public option in their proposals in 2009 when they first began working on health care reform. But they dropped the idea relatively quickly.

Democrat Patrick Murphy embraced the idea during his unsuccessful Senate run last year, as has current gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham.

Support for a single-payer health care system has never been higher.

In the June Kaiser Health Tracking poll, 53 percent of respondents now favor such a system, with 43 percent opposing.

That’s the highest level of support in the 19 years since Kaiser began polling on the issue. However, Kaiser Health officials point out that “a prolonged national debate” on the issue could easily shift the public’s attitudes.

According to the Kaiser Health website“For example, when those who initially say they favor a single-payer or Medicare-for-all plan are asked how they would feel if they heard that such a plan would give the government too much control over health care, about four in ten (21 percent of the public overall) say they would change their mind and would now oppose the plan, pushing total opposition up to 62 percent.

“Similarly, when this group is told such a plan would require many Americans to pay more in taxes or that it would eliminate or replace the Affordable Care Act, total opposition increases to 60 percent and 53 percent, respectively.”


Bob White wants to give GOP voters an alternative in governor’s race

For Florida Republicans unsure who to support for governor in 2018, Bob White wants to give them a staunchly conservative alternative.

One might add ‘libertarian’ as well: White chairs the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida, which is “dedicated to working within the Republican Party to advance the principles of individual rights, limited government and free markets,” its website says.

The Florida GOP has occupied the Governor’s Mansion for nearly two decades. Several candidates — both officially and unofficially — hope to keep it that way:

— Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has more than $11 million cash-on-hand for his run and is the acknowledged front-runner.

— State Sen. Jack Latvala is all but in the race, crisscrossing the state to accept awards and gather contributions.

— There’s also talk of U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis joining the field, while House Speaker Richard Corcoran says he won’t announce his 2018 ambitions until next year, but he continues to dominate the headlines and raise beaucoup bucks for his political committee.

So where does White fit into all of this?

The 60-year-old Suntree resident (that’s in Brevard County) has become another official candidate in the 2018 sweepstakes.

White says that, in a divided field, many Republican primary voters don’t want the “same old.” That, he believes, makes him a serious player.

“I’m predicting that somebody’s going to win the Republican primary with less than 30 percent of the vote,” he said Friday in Tampa. “And that means anything can happen. So we just gotta find a way to organize the grassroots to get them motivated to get out there and help us.”

Yes, White is optimistic. But he’s also angry about some injustices. And as anyone who runs such a quixotic campaign must be, he’s also an optimist.

Rock-solid conservative on issues like abortion, Medicaid expansion, and the escalating national debt, his platform is enacting serious campaign finance reform. That’s not something you’re likely to hear from political insiders Putnam, Latvala or Corcoran.

“I’m not going to be one of the big money candidates in this race, and that’s intentional,” he said. White is focusing on running against dark money and special interest contributions that he believes are fundamentally destroying the voice of the people in Florida’s legislative process.

“We’ve got to find a way to make that message, to get that message out because it resonates everywhere we go, every person we talk to about that issue agrees with us 100 percent and they become very fast supporters of ours,” he said.

White was speaking in a small studio at WMNF radio in Tampa, part of a local media blitz that included interviews with other radio and TV stations in the region as he begins the slog of a statewide campaign with virtually no name recognition (outside of the confines of the Liberty Caucus, which has about 1,500 members statewide).

While Putnam remains the big dog in the race, White said the Lakeland native is extremely vulnerable as the living definition of a “career politician” (the soon-to-turn 43-year-old Putnam has served in politics literally half his life).

Putnam is also vulnerable on some key votes during his tenure in Congress that he says will be fresh meat for attack from all other potential candidates. “It is going to be very difficult for him,” White predicts.

White admires Corcoran (who has accepted an invitation to speak at a Liberty Caucus’ Constitution Day Dinner event in September), but slams the Speaker as being somewhat hypocritical in declaring victory over Gov. Rick Scott in the Session-long battle to defund Enterprise Florida, the public-private state agency that the governor said was crucial to retain to recruit companies to come to Florida.

After it was all said and done, the Florida Legislature ended up funding $85 million this year to create what is known as the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund within the Department of Economic Opportunity.

The fund will finance projects that fit broad criteria to help targeted industries: rural infrastructure, transportation projects for local governments and individual training programs at state colleges and technical schools. There are no restrictions on how to disperse grant money, except that it “shall not be used for the exclusive benefit of any single company, corporation, or business entity.”

Nothing in the legislation requires an audit. There are no application requirements, no job metrics and no mandate that the project show it is developing jobs.

“Richard Corcoran was actually against corporate welfare until he was for corporate welfare,” quipped White in evaluating what went down with Enterprise Florida this year. He said the new law essentially creates a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) for the entire state of Florida, “with an $85 million budget, and a board of directors of one.”

White supported Rand Paul for president last year, but said Donald Trump had done a good job in his first six months in office, notwithstanding his present coverage.

“I would prefer it if he would just lighten up on the tweets if would stop personalizing it as much as he is. He needs to be I think to a certain extent, he needs … to raise the level of the debate on a lot of these issues  and not take the bait that’s being put out there, but he’s got his own personality, he’s got his own way of doing business, he’s going to have to continue to do his own thing.”

Vern Buchanan calls on Senate to pass his bill punishing cop killers

Vern Buchanan is seizing on heavy media coverage of a New York City police officer’s execution Wednesday, calling for the U.S. Senate to pass legislation making the murder or attempted murder of a police officer an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations.

New York City Police Officer Miosotis Familia was sitting in the back of a marked van writing in her memo book when she was shot and killed with no warning by a gunman at around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday. The gunman, Alexander Bonds, was subsequently shot and killed by NYC police officers. It’s been reported that he wrote anti-police posts on Facebook and claimed officers kill inmates at the jails he was in.

The story of her death is featured on the Thursday covers of both of New York City dailies the New York Post and the New York Daily News.

The “Thin Blue Line Act,” sponsored by the Sarasota Republican congressman, passed the House in May. The proposal makes the murder or attempted murder of a law enforcement officer an “aggravating” factor in death penalty cases.

“It’s time to protect those who put their lives on the line for us every day,” Buchanan said in a statement Thursday. “We need to send a strong message that the heinous targeting of police officers or first responders will not be tolerated.”

So far in 2017, there have been 67 line-of-duty deaths, an 18 percent spike from the same point in 2016, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Most law enforcement agencies around the country support the bill. It is applicable in cases where the person is murdered on duty, because of the performance of their duty, or because of their status as a public official. covers federal, state and local police officers, firefighters and first responders. The only requirement is that the homicide involves federal jurisdiction, such as the interstate homicide of an officer, or an officer killed on federal land, or while serving as part of a joint task force.

The bill would cover federal, state and local police officers, firefighters and first responders. The only requirement is that the homicide involves federal jurisdiction, such as the interstate homicide of an officer, or an officer killed on federal land, or while serving as part of a joint task force.

Former Pinellas County GOP Congressman David Jolly sponsored the original bill, introduced in 2015 and again in 2016.

Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey sponsored the Senate version.

David Jolly to congressional Republicans: Ignore Trump’s tweets, isolate him

David Jolly offers some advice for his former GOP colleagues when called upon to comment on President Donald Trump‘s more egregious tweets: Just ignore him.

“No more trips to the White House. No more flights on Air Force One. No more accepting his gratuitous offers of signing ceremonies, White House cocktails, or meetings with his children. No more asking the White House for permission, for policy advice, or for the President’s priorities,” the former Pinellas County congressman writes in an op-ed on CNN’s website.

“Honor your oath as a fiduciary of Article I, who holds the public trust. Strike out with your own bold agenda that wins the hearts and minds of the American people. And leave this President behind. Leave him to his Twitter account and to placating his base with disgusting tweets.”

New polling suggests that it’s not just media elite and/or Democrats who have grown weary of some of Trump’s outlandish Twitter comments, such as his broadside against MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, who he said last week was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when he saw her a few months ago.

According to a poll conducted by Morning Consult in partnership with POLITICO published Wednesday, 65 percent of those surveyed said it was “unacceptable” for Trump to attack Brzezinski as he did.

Even among Republicans, more people called it unacceptable (46 percent) than acceptable (28 percent) for the president to say such things. Both men and women agreed the tweets were unacceptable, though more men (22 percent) than women (12 percent) found the comments acceptable.

As a prolific commentator on CNN and MSNBC since Trump’s inauguration in January, Jolly has been mostly critical of the president’s policies and performance in office. While that makes him an outlier among Republicans currently in office, he’s hardly the only conservative on cable airwaves taking issue with Trump, joining Ana Navarro, Jennifer Rubin, George Will and others on the right to criticize the president.

“You see, when members of Congress condemn a tweet and then fall in line with the President’s awkward leadership of domestic and foreign policy — such as when they race to be his guest at a South Lawn ceremony celebrating passage of a flawed health care bill that even the President himself now disowns — all their condemnation, and congressional resolve itself, is exposed as meritless,” Jolly writes.

Trump’s tweet against Brzezinski was certainly one of the most flagrant comments since using Twitter as president, earning a flood criticism from Democrats and even some Republicans in the immediate aftermath last week.

“President is a poor role model for America’s children, all of us,” Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor tweeted last week. “His tweets, actions are far beneath the dignity required of the office.”

One Democrat deciding not to comment on the latest social media messages from the president: Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.

Speaking with reporters in Tampa earlier this week, Nelson was asked (by this reporter) if he was bothered by Trump’s tweets on Brzezinski, as well as another featuring a mock video showing him body-slamming WWE promoter Vince McMahonwhose face was covered by a CNN logo.

“The essence of your question is — you’d like me to jump all over the president, and I’ll tell you what my answer is — I can’t do anything about how he conducts himself, but I can do something about how I conduct myself,” Nelson responded. “And it is my responsibility to conduct myself as a gentleman, to respect others, to try to be bipartisan, to try to bring people together and build bipartisan consensus.”

“That is my responsibility and my obligation, and I tried to do that, and I will continue to try to do that,” he concluded.

Florida Democrats to Ken Detzner: Reject Trump administration’s request for private information of Florida voters

Florida is one of less than a handful of states that has yet to respond to the Trump administration’s election integrity commission’s request to provide extensive amounts of voter information. But before it can, several Florida Democrat lawmakers are calling on Secretary of State Ken Detzner to reject the request.

Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity, sent a letter to all 50 states last Wednesday requesting extensive voter data files, including registrants’ full names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, the last four digits of their social security numbers, a list of the elections they voted in since 2006, information on any felony convictions, information on whether they were registered to vote in other states, their military status, and whether they lived overseas.

The request came months after President Donald Trump claimed, without evidence, that millions of people have voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election. While some states have complied, many others, especially those with Democratic governors, have vehemently objected.

In their letter, the Florida Democrat leaders call the commission “a total sham,” and say the whole exercise is “fearmongering at its worst and a direct attack on the integrity of our electoral process by our nation’s highest officeholder.”

“The false claim of widespread voter fraud has been universally debunked countless times,” writes Florida Democratic Party Chair Stephen Bittel, Senate Leader Oscar Braynon, Senate Leader-Designate Jeff Clemens, House Leader Janet Cruz and House Leader-Designate Kionne McGhee. “It is outrageous for the President to abuse his bully pulpit to spread such an egregious lie. By propagating this absurd claim, Donald Trump is severely undercutting the credibility of our democracy—to the citizens of this nation and to the members of the international community.

In addition, the Florida League of Women Voters sent a letter to Detzner Wednesday night, also calling on him to reject Kobach’s request. The Florida LWV contends that some of the information being request is shielded under Florida law, specifically listing the statute regarding social security numbers.

Earlier this week, Florida’s senior Democrat, Senator Bill Nelson, chimed in as well, dismissing the request as “ridiculous,”and saying, “give us your personally identifiable voters information that is not public, and we’re going to put it in a centrally registered point that is unsecured? It’s just an open invitation to North Korea, the Russians, China and non-state actors to come in and get that information.”

The Rick Scott administration has said little in the past week about the request. A spokesperson for the state department said earlier this week that they had received Kobach’s letter, and were “reviewing it.”

Read the letter in full below:

Dear Mr. Secretary,

Over the past week, top election officials from around the country—Democrat and Republican—have rejected requests for sensitive voter data from Donald Trump’s “election integrity” commission.

This commission is a total sham. Donald Trump’s assertion that 3 to 5 million votes were cast illegally is an outright lie. This is fearmongering at its worst and a direct attack on the integrity of our electoral process by our nation’s highest officeholder.

The false claim of widespread voter fraud has been universally debunked countless times.  For making this claim, Donald Trump is either massively ignorant and ill-advised, or this is a thinly-veiled attempt at justifying national voter suppression tactics—we believe it is likely a combination of the two.

This request is voluntary and many states have already refused to turn over their citizens’ data. We remind you that complying with this request may put voters at risk of identity theft, encroach federal rights to privacy, and violate the Federal Voting Rights Act in addition to the Florida Constitution.

There are certainly issues in our electoral system that should be addressed—foreign attempts to influence our elections come to mind most immediately.

It is outrageous for the President to abuse his bully pulpit to spread such an egregious lie. By propagating this absurd claim, Donald Trump is severely undercutting the credibility of our democracy—to the citizens of this nation and to the members of the international community.

We strongly urge our state government to show good judgement and reject Donald Trump’s request for the private information of Florida voters. To entertain the notion of massive voter fraud—where there is none— is to put our democracy in jeopardy. We trust that the administration will put politics aside in this instance and do the right thing.

Attorney General candidate Ryan Torrens calls out Rick Scott for attempt to pack Supreme Court

In one of his first public statements since he announced his candidacy last month, Democratic Attorney General candidate Ryan Torrens says he’s strongly opposed to Rick Scott’s attempt to replace three members of the Florida Supreme Court on his last day of office in 2019.

“In 2014, Florida voters had an opportunity to approve a constitutional amendment which would have permitted this practice and our voters rejected it,” Torrens said. “Governor Scott needs to respect the wishes of Florida voters and permit our new governor to appoint the replacement justices. After all, a newly-elected governor better reflects the will of the people rather than a governor elected four years ago.”

That constitutional amendment cited by Torrens not only failed to get the 60 percent support necessary for passage but lost outright by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin. However, Scott continues to say that after finishing his second term in January of 2019, he will name the the successors to the three justices who are scheduled to leave office on the same day as he does.

Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince are scheduled to retire because they have reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 on Jan. 8, 2019 — the same day a new Governor will be sworn in the replace Scott. They also make up a part of the Florida Supreme Court’s liberal majority.

Two voting rights groups – the Florida League of Women Voters and Common Cause – filed a petition last month requesting that the Florida Supreme Court Governor Scott from appointing the justices’ replacements.

“I encourage the Florida Supreme Court to affirm the will of the voters and to find that this appointment power rests with the newly-elected governor, not the outgoing governor,”said Torrens, who is also calling on Attorney General Pam Bondi to take a stand on Scott’s attempt to “pack our Supreme Court.”

“We should rise above partisan politics and respect the wishes of our voters,” the University of Tampa graduate says.

“When I am your attorney general, I will always fight for our people over entrenched special interests, even if that means standing up to our governor,” said Torrens.

The 32-year-old Odessa based attorney has just recently announced his candidacy attorney general, the first Democrat to do so.

Former Hillsborough County judge Ashley Moody and Jacksonville area state Representative Jay Fant have filed to run in the Republican race for AG.

Annette Taddeo leads in SD 40 Democratic primary, new poll says

Florida Senate District 40 candidate Annette Taddeo is touting a new poll giving her a 17-point lead over Democratic primary opponent Ana Rivas Logan.

The survey, conducted by SEA Polling, shows Taddeo leading Rivas Logan, 40 to 23 percent, with more than a third of those polled (37 percent) undecided. However, neither candidate is that well known. Forty-two percent of those surveyed said they didn’t know who Taddeo is, while 54 percent say they aren’t familiar with Rivas Logan.

However, neither candidate is that well-known; 42 percent of respondents didn’t know who Taddeo is. Similarly, 54 percent say they aren’t familiar with Rivas Logan.

The gap between the two Democrats widens to 29 points after voters were presented with biographical information, the survey reports. It did not list what additional info was inserted to questions.

A Miami-based businesswoman, Taddeo has found herself on the losing side of a number of recent elections. She is perhaps best known as Charlie Crist‘s running mate in the 2014 gubernatorial election.

A former Republican, Rivas Logan switched to the Democratic Party in 2014 after a single term in the Florida Legislature. She also served on the Miami-Dade County School Board.

SD 40 encompasses Southwest Miami-Dade and was represented by Hialeah Republican Frank Artiles until April, when he resigned just days after reports emerged that he had made racist and sexist comments to two black Democratic lawmakers.

On the GOP side, the race is between state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla and Lorenzo Palomares.

The primary election is July 25; the special general election is September 26.

The poll contacted 350 registered and likely Democratic primary voters June 26-28 and was conducted in both English and Spanish. It has an error sample of 4.29 percent.


In new ad, Republicans attempt to tie Bill Nelson to Elizabeth Warren’s single-payer health care plan

Although Bill Nelson has never talked about supporting single-payer health care, the National Republican Senatorial Campaign (NRSC) is going after him in a new digital ad running in Florida tying him to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who recently has come out in support of such a proposal.

Citing Warren’s recent comments about getting behind a single-payer plan, the ad’s narrator says such a system “would be absolutely devastating for Florida families and businesses.” Next, the ad notes that Nelson “has followed Warren in near-lockstep in the Senate, voting with his good friend 90 percent of the time. Will he also support Warren’s socialized health care plan?”

The ad then notes that Nelson “has followed Warren in near-lockstep in the Senate, voting with his good friend 90 percent of the time,” before asking: “Will he also support Warren’s socialized health care plan?”

Nelson has never supported single-payer, however. In fact, he said in Tampa earlier this week that his goal would be for the Republicans and Democrats to come together to make improvements to the Affordable Care Act. He is opposed to Republican efforts to repeal and replace the legislation.

“What we ought to be doing is fixing the existing law, instead of repealing it,” Nelson said, adding that the partisan politics in Washington when it comes to health care is a “sad commentary, but that is what we’re facing.”

“Bill Nelson and Elizabeth Warren are two peas in a pod, but Florida families can’t afford a $32 trillion health care boondoggle,” said NRSC Communications Director Katie Martin. “Floridians deserve to know if Bill is going to sacrifice their well-being to support Elizabeth Warren and her extreme government-run health care plan.”

Warren told The Wall Street Journal earlier this week that it’s time for Democrats to campaign on single-payer in the 2018 and 2020 elections.

“President Obama tried to move us forward with health care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts,” Warren said Tuesday. “Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer.”

The NRSC wants to take down Nelson, one of 23 Democrats in the Senate up for reelection next year, and he is certainly considered vulnerable, particularly if Gov. Rick Scott and his tens of millions of dollars enter the race to challenge him.

Speaking to reporters in Tampa earlier this week, Nelson said he looked forward to the challenge. 

“I like the contrast because there’s a lot of contrast between his positions and mine and even our styles,” Nelson said.

Watch the ad below:





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