Alan Grayson Archives - Florida Politics

Nurses’ union backs Darren Soto in CD 9 race

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto has picked up another endorsement from a reliable Democratic ally in his battle with his predecessor former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson for the party primary in Florida’s 9th Congressional District.

National Nurses United, the largest organization of registered nurses in the country, has endorsed Soto, his campaign announced Monday.

In its endorsement letter, the union said Soto “embodies nurses’ values of caring, compassion and community.”

The winner of the Soto-Grayson primary faces Republican Wayne Liebnitzky in the Nov. 6 election. The district covers south Orange County, Osceola County and east Polk County.

“I’m honored to have the support of nurses in our community and nationwide. We must care for the caregivers,” Soto stated in a news release from his campaign. “Nurses, like all workers, deserve wages that can support a family, safe working conditions, and the right to unionize and bargain collectively. Throughout my career, I’ve fought for the working people of Central Florida, and I’m proud to be supported by many unions including the Florida AFL-CIO.”

Alan Grayson’s new ad: ‘Impeach Trump … Grayson will; Soto won’t’

Is this video Alan Grayson‘s latest television commercial … or a trailer for the next Hollywood blockbuster?

Grayson, the Democratic former congressman trying to win his seat back in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, is launching a new television commercial Tuesday that focuses on his commitment to seek President Donald Trump‘s impeachment.

The spot has just the most fleeting of references, a negative one, to Grayson’s Democratic primary rival, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto.

The 30-second video, “When They Break the Law,” plays out like an action movie trailer, with two video sequences of dozens of rapid-fire images, backed by dramatic crescendos of music, seeking the implications that Trump and his team have broken the law, and that Grayson will go after them.

The video opens with the first sequence, quick flashes of stark images of Trump, members of his family, and inner circle blasting onto the screen as the music crescendo climbs toward a bang.

That bang leads to a calmer, bridge moment in the video, starting with text screens that read “When They Break The Law,” “Stand With Grayson,” and “Impeach!!” That’s followed by some old TV footage of Grayson being interviewed by, or talked about by, progressive TV commentators admiring him. Some of that footage is recycled from his previous TV commercials. It includes Grayson declaring, “If we do nothing you can kiss this country goodbye!”

The second crescendo sequence then starts, featuring a mixture of images of all kinds of Democrats’ bugaboos, from Vladimir Putin to ICE agents, and from global warming problems to lines of police in riot gear. Sprinkled in are a few pictures of Democratic protesters and others resisting, and of Grayson looking brave and patriotic. That sequence also includes — so quickly that the messages might be best seen as subliminal — text screens that read, “Impeach Trump,” “Grayson Will,” and “Soto Won’t.”

That sequence draws from one of the points of hot contention in a CD 9 Democratic debate last week at the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida, in which Grayson said he is ready to pursue impeachment articles against Trump — right now — that Soto twice voted against bills to impeach.

Soto responded that he wants to wait until after Special Council Robert Mueller finishes his investigation, but would be among the first to vote for impeachment if that investigation warrants it.

There were no details provided late Monday by Grayson’s campaign team about what sort of media buy is backing the commercial.


After a heartbreaking Polk County deportation, introspective Darren Soto lays it out at Tiger Bay

Friday should have been a victory lap of sorts for Democratic Congressman Darren Soto — he was still receiving rave reviews from many in the party for his debate with primary challenger former Congressman Alan Grayson, and he had many local accomplishments to tout in his first term in Congress.

But he arrived at the Thursday luncheon of the Polk County Tiger Bay Club tired and introspective. The deportation to Mexico of 20-year Polk County resident Alejandra Juarez earlier in the day and his long fight to prevent it had taken a toll.

After a campaign to get support in Congress and with federal agencies, Soto accompanied the family to the airport in Orlando to say goodbye to the wife of a Marine veteran.

Temo Juarez is a naturalized citizen and Marine veteran who served two deployments to Iraq and Africa. Her two daughters were born in the United States; both are citizens.

“It was highly emotional and (the deportation order) just puzzled minds,” Soto said. “It was a sad morning.”

Alejandra Juarez says goodbye to daughters Pamela, 16, and Estella, 8, as U.S. Rep. Darren Soto looks on.

There are two options, Soto said.

“We are seeking an appeal for reconsideration by the Department of Homeland Security. The second option is if there is a change in Congress,” referring to a possible Democratic majority after the midterm elections in November.

Many Democrats at the luncheon were boisterous that Soto would be the one returned to the seat from Florida’s 9th Congressional District. They viewed the primary debate Wednesday with Grayson as a victory and cited all of his endorsements. The Republican candidate would face an overwhelming “blue wave” regardless of who wins the primary, they said, because of the heavily Democratic registration in the district.

Soto began with a litany of grants and bills he had brought to Polk County in his first term. Part of that legislative recounting to the group may have been to combat Grayson’s campaign ads claiming he brought back more benefits to the district when he was in Congress.

Thirteen of the 17 cities in Polk County is within CD 9, which also includes all of Osceola County and portions of Orange County.

The shopping list was frugal, though widely distributed:

— Money for improvement of the airports in Winter Haven and Lake Wales, along with the Bartow airport which is in his district, but the city is not. “All emerging cities,” he said

— New police cars for Lake Hamilton.

— Additional funds for fighting last year’s wildfires, which he worked with Congressman Dennis Ross a Lakeland Republican,

“These are the day-to-day things done to solve people’s problems,” he said.

He also refuted Grayson’s claims in television ads that he was in Washington when Hurricane Irma hit.

“I was in with my wife in our home in Celebration. I returned before the hurricane and was flying back with (Congresswoman) Val Demings. The plane was almost empty flying into Florida with a hurricane approaching,” he said. “Then I was out to emergency centers.”

An obvious question from a Polk County crowd — What about citrus greening? — put Soto in a nearly professorial role, considering his position on the House Agriculture Committee, where he discusses plant biology, pesticides and grower-developed treatments of trace metals.

It is crucial to solve the disease, Soto said, noting that in a single year citrus production had dropped from a projected 70 million boxes to 30 million boxes — cutting work for many in the large juice production companies.

He praised the research station in Lake Alfred noting that a new gift fruit species, known as Sugar Bell has shown signs of being resistant to the greening disease.

When asked about the dissent and combativeness in Congress, Soto replied that while there are massive differences on large bills, there is bipartisan cooperation on key everyday issues.

“Eighty percent of our bills pass every day,” Soto said. “A few weeks ago, I passed a bill to protect sharks, marlins and swordfish. It passed House and Senate on voice votes … there are hundreds of examples like that.”

On Puerto Rico statehood, he said there likely could be a bill or resolution in the next few months.

Associated Industries endorses Fred Costello, Mike Miller in open-seat congressional races

The Associated Industries of Florida has thrown its backing behind Republican state Rep. Mike Miller‘s bid for Congress in Florida’s 7th Congressional District and former state Rep. Fred Costello‘s bid in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

Miller’s endorsement may come as a bit of a sting to his Aug. 28 Republican primary opponent Scott Sturgill, who is himself professionally in the manufacturing sector represented by AIF.

Miller is aiming to oust Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in CD 7, which covers Seminole County and much of north and central Orange County. He first must get past Sturgill in what has been a bruising primary battle. Also in the primaries are Republican Vennia Francois and Democrat Chardo Richardson.

Costello is in a battle with Republicans John Ward and Michael Waltz for the Aug. 28 Republican primary, with another three Democrats vying, and the prospect that the November election could be competitive in a seat Republicans have long held. Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is running for governor.

The group also endorsed the re-election bids of Republican U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz in CD 1; Neal Dunn in CD 2; Ted Yoho in CD 3; John Rutherford in CD 4; Al Lawson in CD 5; Bill Posey in District 8; Dan Webster in CD 11; Gus Bilirakis in CD 12; Vern Buchanan in CD 16; Brian Mast in CD 18; Francis Rooney in CD 19; Maria Diaz-Balart in CD 25; and Carlos Curbelo in CD 26.

And the AIF endorsed two Democrat congressmen seeking re-election: Al Lawson in CD 5, and Darren Soto in CD 9.

“Today, the AIF Board of Directors is proud to release our endorsements for those candidates here in Florida that we believe will best serve Florida businesses and families in the U.S. House of Representatives,” AIF President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Feeney, a former congressman himself. “We believe these individuals are the most qualified candidates in their respective races to take our pro-growth, pro-job and free-enterprise message to Washington to continue to make Florida a top state in the nation to live, work and raise a family.”

The group skipped endorsements in several districts with highly-competitive Republican primaries, and in most districts where incumbent Democratic incumbents are likely to be re-elected. That made the endorsements of Miller, Costello, Soto and Lawson stand out.

Soto’s may in part reflect the strength of AIF’s preference of him over his Aug. 28 Democratic rival, the much more liberal former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, with the recognition that the Republican in the district, Wayne Liebnitzky, would be a long shot against either of them come November. Lawson also has a tough primary battle with former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, which likely will decide this year’s ultimate winner in that north Florida district.

“We strongly encourage our fellow Floridians to vote to send these candidates to Washington to fight for Florida,” Feeney stated. “Our businesses and families can count on these individuals to foster a business-friendly environment our future generations can rely on.”

Darren Soto and Alan Grayson debate: brawling, bruising, ‘lies!’

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto and Democratic former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who wants to take his job back from Soto, may agree in principal on most Democratic positions but on Thursday that didn’t stop an almost unrelenting brawl with bruising attacks on each other ranging from how they treat women to multiple accusations of lies.

Past histories of anti-abortion votes. Congressional ethics investigations. NRA ratings. Setting up off-shore hedge fund accounts. Insensitively-timed fundraisers. Monday-morning quarterbacking rather than helping with hurricane relief. Not living in the district. Not bringing home the bacon. Investments in a Russian firm. Campaign money from special interests. Campaign money from radicals whipped up by “saying crazy things on the internet.” Claims of poor treatment of and disrespect toward women. Leaving a wife to be arrested for disorderly intoxication.

All of it was alleged or at least implied, and most of it angrily refuted, as the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida sat through 46-minute debate between the two seeking to win the Aug. 28 Democratic primary to run this fall in Florida’s 9th Congressional District by trying to make the other guy look unfit.

The Republican waiting for a survivor to challenge, Wayne Liebnitzky, would have been the gleeful winner Thursday, if he weren’t such a significant underdog to either of them in the very-blue district covering South Orange County, all of Osceola County, and east Polk County.

When the final bell rang and the two fighters left the ring, they had offered mostly similar positions on immigration, guns, abortion rights, Social Security, Medicare, tariffs, opposition to President Donald Trump, Puerto Rico, and the Internet, with the differences on many of those issues primarily being defined as who’s been more consistent, who got to the positions first, and who has been and is likely to be more effective in pushing them in the next Congress.

The discord began early when they were asked why each of them would best represent the district.

“I actually live in the district, rather than 30 miles away,” Soto said at one point. “Second, I represent the emerging demographics of the district and work every day for my constituents, not myself.”

“Darren has been a complete failure in getting money. … He doesn’t know how to fight for it,” Grayson said.

The first of many accusations of lies came when Soto accused Grayson of not overseeing what became problematic construction of Orlando’s new Veterans Administration Medical Center four years ago, allowing the problems to languish for over a year and a half. Grayson refuted that. saying he got the contractor banned from getting more federal contracts.

“Now you’re just making things up,” Grayson charged. “What a silly lie that was.”

Even when the questions involved a seemingly a uniting opponent like Trump, the two couldn’t keep their gloves off each other.

“The president has blown it ever since he came to office for cheating and colluding with the Russians. Frankly, I would have voted already to have him impeached,” Grayson said. “I would hope to see him impeached and convicted when I return to Congress. … My opponent has voted twice with the president against impeachment, and that’s the worst form of appeasement that I can imagine.”

“We have an investigation going right now, and should [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller find that President Trump committed high crimes, I’ll be the first to vote for impeachment. But we have a process to go through,” Soto responded. “And I doubt that my opponent is the best person to be trying to take on Russia, since he supported [Russia President Vladimir] Putin‘s invasion of Crimea, and he has investments over there that makes it a total conflict of interest.”

“Okay, Darren, what investments do I have in Russia? Go ahead!” Grayson challenged.

Soto mentioned one.

“Okay, I haven’t owned [that one] in 10 years. What else you got? Nothing! Okay, let’s move on,” Grayson said.

“You supported Putin invading Crimea!” Soto reminded him.

“Okay, and when did you become the great champion of self-determination?” Grayson responded.

They also battled about their dueling TV commercials. Grayson’s alleged that Soto was attending fundraisers instead of helping the district during Hurricane Irma. Soto vehemently disputed the claim, saying he was in Central Florida. “You know that… You put up a lie on TV which has no truth whatsoever,” Soto declared “This is just more of a campaign of deception, and we don’t need that in politics.”

Soto’s commercial alleged that Grayson set up off-shore hedge funds. Grayson vigoursly disputed that, saying he created an empty fund there to meet legal requirements for the American fund he set up for his family and a couple of friends. He also doubled-down on his allegations about Soto’s fundraiser, saying that if it actually took place four days earlier than the federal filings suggested, as Soto insisted, that was a lie to the Federal Election Commission. “Who’s really lying here?” Grayson demanded.

The debate tetered on becoming ugly after Soto twice made implied references to Grayson’s treatment of women, alluding to, though not explicitly mentioning, his record of discord with his ex-wife Lolita Carson-Grayson.

“If anybody on this stage is a champion of women, of protecting women, it is me, and that is not even close. I respect women in public,” Soto declared. He then accused Grayson of calling women “senile, in print, on TV. I’m the only one up here who respects women and gives them the dignity they deserve.”

Grayson swung back hard, referring to the incident in April when Soto’s wife Amanda Soto was arrested for disorderly intoxication at Walt Disney World. Reports showed he was with her at the start, but conspicously absent when she was hauled away.

“Is that why you left your wife at Disney World when she was intoxicated?” Grayson demanded.

Grayson was in his natural activity, brawling, and through most of the debate appeared to have the advantage and land the hardest blows. It’s a nature that made him a favorite and a poster child, nationally, among progressive Democratic activists.

But it’s also his weakness, for Grayson’s scortched-earth approach to politics burned a lot of bridges during his three terms, from 2008-’10, and ’12-’16. Consequently, Soto drew all the Tiger Bay applause outbursts Thursday, and Grayson none; and a lot of progressive groups have been raining endorsements on Soto in this race. Even in the issues where Grayson attacked Soto the hardest, Soto had the seals-of-approval to counter-punch.

Abortion? Soto once voted in the Florida House for a bill pushed by anti-abortion lawmakers: mandatory trans-vaginal ulrasounds for any woman contemplating an abortion, Grayson charged. Soto’s response: He’s changed, and Planned Parenthood endorsed him, not Grayson.

Guns? Soto in the Florida House backed several measures offered by the National Rifle Association, and the NRA even endorsed him in 2010, Grayson offered. Soto’s response: He’s changed, and three major national gun-control organizations, Giffords PAC the Pride Fund, and Moms Demand Action all endorsed him, not Grayson.

Social Security? Grayson accused Soto of saying in a media interview that he’s open-minded about eliminating Social Security benefits. Soto’s response? He disputed that, and noted that the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare endorsed him, not Grayson.

“Who is there working every day, and gives our district the dignity and respect that it deserves?” Soto challenged.

Soto’s strength also is the weakness Grayson went after and upended: he’s usually quite cordial. Grayson repeatedly accused him of being ineffective in Congress and repeatedly contrasted that with his own record, including having been named the most effective member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, by several publications during his tenures. In Grayson’s statements, Soto may have brought tens of millions of federal dollars home, but Grayson brought hundreds of millions.

Slate magazine named me the most effective member of Congress. I’ve demonstrated what you can do with this job. I haven’t noticed anybody saying Darren Soto is the most effective member of Congress. People talk about: ‘Is this someone you’d like to have a cup of coffee with, or a drink?'” Grayson said. “The voters take it much more seriously. The voters think: ‘What are you going to do for me?'”

There almost was an acknowledgement of agreement when Soto talked about measures he had sponsored for Social Security, and then Grayson pointed out that he’d brought those things up first. But, even then, the blows came.

“He legislates by carbon-copy,” Grayson said. “He’s really taken things that I passed through the House, and introduced them himself.”

“Why not embrace good ideas? Soto replied.

“There’s nothing like the real thing, baby,” Grayson responded.

Giffords PAC endorses Darren Soto in CD 9 race

The national gun-control political action committee founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, Giffords PAC, is endorsing Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto in his re-election bid in Florida’s 9th Congressional District.

The endorsement, announced Tuesday by Soto’s campaign, comes to Soto who’s been under attack for his career political record on guns by his Aug. 28 Democratic primary challenger former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who was a colleague of Giffords in Congress.

The Giffords PAC was founded by Kelly, a former NASA space shuttle astronaut and retired U.S. Navy captain, and his wife, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt that also killed six people and wounded 18 others. The Arizona Democrat was left with permanent brain injuries but recovered to return to Congress and become a leader in the gun-control movement.

“Darren Soto is a fighter who has stood up to the gun lobby in Congress, refused to stay silent on the need to address our gun violence crisis, and championed legislation that will save lives,” Giffords stated in a news release. “We are proud to endorse Darren for re-election because he is committed to protecting not only the people of Florida, but communities all across the country. We look forward to continuing our work with Darren as we push for the solutions that will keep our schools, streets, churches, and neighborhoods safe.”

Grayson also has been a strong advocate of significant gun control measures, and he’s been challenging Soto’s career record on the issue, noting that while Soto was in the Florida House of Representatives, he received an A rating and an endorsement from the National Rifle Association in 2010.

Soto and his campaign have dismissed that circumstance as not indicative of who he is and argued that he’d been a strong voice for gun law reforms in Congress, voting against a concealed weapons reciprocity measure last year and advocating background checks on all firearm sales, among other positions. Soto also was among the first to call for bans on the sales of semi-automatic weapons in Florida, when he was in the Florida Senate, holding a news conference on the call just a few days after the June 12, 2016, massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

“Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is a singular force in American life,” Soto stated. “She is the definition of courage. It is humbling to have her support. Her, her husband Mark, and the entire Giffords organization are true leaders, and I am honored to work with them to end gun violence. The NRA is a determined opponent, but the great majority of Americans are seeing through their lies. Together, we will overcome them and pass real gun safety reform.”

Darren Soto picks up Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida nod

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto announced the endorsement of his re-election campaign by the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida Tuesday.

The endorsement adds to a list of Democratic and progressive groups that previously might have been expected to endorse Soto’s Democratic primary challenger and predecessor in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

The Democratic Environmental Caucus‘s President Michael Newett expressed appreciation for Soto’s “commitment to preserve, protect and enhance Florida’s natural environment.”

Soto and Grayson are battling over CD 9, covering south Orange, all of Osceola, and east Polk counties, a region that is the crux of the South Florida Water Management District flow through the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, and the algae-plagued coasts east and west of Okeechobee. The winner of the Aug. 28 Democratic primary faces Republican Wayne Liebnitzky in November.

Soto, a member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee and the Natural Resources Committee, has pushed legislation to address Kissimmee River restoration and other water management projects, and has previously received the endorsements of the League of Conservation Voters and the Flordia Conservation Voters.

“DECF members are some of the most active, informed progressive voters in Central Florida, and I’m honored to have their support. I sought a seat on the Natural Resources Committee because the people of our District wanted a fighter for Florida’s environment,” he stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “In Congress, I’ve helped stop Trump’s reckless attempt to allow oil drilling in our waters, passed a law to hold foreign oil drillers more liable for their spills, and passed bills out of the House to protect the Kissimmee River and marine life like sharks and marlins. With the support of DECF members, I know we can accomplish even more.”

Gloves off: Darren Soto ad blasts ‘shady, lying’ Alan Grayson

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto rips his predecessor and primary election opponent former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in a television commercial that started airing in Orlando Friday.

Soto’s commercial, airing on at least four Orlando TV stations, accuses Grayson of lying about him and also accuses Grayson of having a “double life running a hedge fund in Congress where he tried to profit off natural disasters in a shady Cayman Islands account.”

Soto’s 30-second spot, “Shady,” is at least in part a response to a TV commercial Grayson began running earlier this month that accused Soto of ignoring constituents during last year’s hurricanes, holding a fundraiser. This week Grayson also returned to running an earlier spot on TV, using old footage of liberal commentators hailing him.

A review of Federal Communication Commission files shows Soto’s campaign just purchased about 70 time slots, about $15,000 in airtime, on four TV stations through the end of next week.

Grayson is taking on Soto in the Aug. 28 primary for Florida’s 9th Congressional District, which Grayson represented for two terms before Soto won it in 2016.

Just two weeks earlier, Soto released an internet ad intended to show he will run a positive campaign. But that’s ended.

“When we get attacked with lies, we will hit back with facts,” said Soto’s campaign spokesman Harry Kruglik. “That’s what we’ve done in this ad.”

Grayson’s response:

“When we go high, Soto goes low. I don’t know what’s worse: Soto’s smarmy feigned moral superiority, his headlong flight from his own record, his distant relationship with the truth, or his rank incompetence as a Member of Congress. To attack an ad of ours that is 100 percent true as dishonest demonstrates that Darren Soto can even lie about lying.”

The new spot touts Soto’s efforts to help Central Florida following Hurricane Irma and to help Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans coming to the United States — a big deal in the Puerto Rican-rich CD 9 — after Hurricane Maria. That’s an apparent response to Grayson’s attack.

It also takes the attack Grayson on a different front.

“Alan Grayson at it again, this time lying about Darren Soto,” the commercial begins. It does not say what Grayson lied about, or make any specific reference to Grayson’s spot.

“After Irma, Darren secured FEMA relief for Central Florida and helped countless families recover,” the commercial continues. “He led the fight for Puerto Rican evacuees and stopped [Donald] Trump from cutting off food and water aid to the island.”

Back to Grayson.

“So why is Grayson lying? To cover up his double life running a hedge fund in Congress where he tried to profit off natural disasters in a shady Cayman Islands account. The better choice? Darren Soto.”

The reference to the Cayman Islands hedge fund is a reference to a 2015 controversy, which came up again in 2016 when Grayson ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. It’s about hedge funds he founded in 2011 using his name in the title that, and that hedge fund had a Cayman entitity, which was never funded.

A Congressional ethics inquiry dismissed charges against him but still issued a report his that his Democratic primary opponent, then U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, called damning.

‘Moms’ gun control group likes Darren Soto in CD 9

The national gun control political action committee Moms Demand Action has given Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto its “Gun Sense Candidate” Distinction, demonstrating how far he has come since he once was endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

The group, formed as part of Everytown for Gun Safety after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., is one of only two gun-control organizations backing candidates as a counterweight to the NRA. However, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America calls its badge of honor a distinction rather than an endorsement, and sometimes awards more than one in the same race.

“Thank you again for standing up for gun violence prevention and recognizing gun safety,” the group stated.

Soto has been criticized — largely by his Democratic primary opponent, former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson — for being more in line with the NRA when he was in the Florida Legislature. The NRA gave Soto an A rating and endorsed him in his 2010 state House campaign.

Later in his Florida House tenure, his state Senate tenure and in Congress, Soto’s NRA ratings plunged. He has maintained that he is a strong proponent of gun law reforms. A few days after the 2016 massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, Soto was among the first Florida lawmakers to call for bans of assault weapons.

“In Congress, Darren Soto is a 100 percent reliable vote for gun safety reform,” his campaign declared in a news release.

“Darren stood up to the NRA, has fought for gun safety legislation, and has put forward a five-point gun safety reform plan that requires universal background checks; keeps guns away from those who are a danger to others or themselves; bans assault weapons, high capacity magazines, and bump stocks; creates a Red Flag System of gun-violence restraining orders; and bans guns for those on FBI terrorist watch list — No Fly, No Buy,” the release continued.

Social Security Group endorses Darren Soto in for re-election

On Thursday, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare endorsed Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto for re-election in Florida’s 9th Congressional District.

“You are a key ally in the effort to serve the needs of seniors and their families. You appreciate that Social Security benefits are modest, on average only $15,456 annually and even lower for women who most often have their working careers interrupted for family caregiving,” committee president Max Richtman said in an endorsement letter.

Richtman later wrote: “There is no membership in the nation more aware or active politically than the men and women who proudly are associated with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. National Committee members know they can continue to count on you in the United States House of Representatives!”

Soto is currently in his first term representing CD 9, which covers south-central Orange, Osceola and eastern Polk counties. He faces former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in what’s shaping up to be a contentious Democratic primary.

From day one, Soto had to fend off attacks from the “congressman with guts,” who is attempting to paint him as an “entirely ineffective” lawmaker while touting himself as a “progressive warrior” and an effective legislator during his three terms in Congress.

Soto has castigated Grayson as a “bully” for his brash and often acerbic style — Grayson, after all, is the Congressman who made a name for himself by saying the Republican health care plan was “Don’t get sick,” and if you do, “die quickly.”

Many groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood, have opted to back Soto over Grayson in the primary race, though Grayson this week landed an endorsement from Our Revolution Orlando, a local chapter of Our Revolution, a national group that traces its roots to Democratic U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign operation.

Grayson and Soto have agreed to two debates, the first on Aug. 2 and the second on Aug. 8. The primary election is Aug. 28.

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