Alan Grayson Archives - Page 3 of 52 - Florida Politics

Nearly half of Floridians think assault weapons ban is step in right direction

Floridians think banning the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons would be a step in the right direction.

Almost half (49 percent) of Floridians view a ban of the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons as a move in the right direction, according to the 2016 USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey. Thirty-seven percent said they thought a ban would be a step in the wrong direction, while 13 percent did not give an opinion.

Gun control has been on the minds of many in the Sunshine State since the June attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Rep. Alan Grayson said in June he was going to introduce legislation banning assault weapons; and state Sen. Darren Soto called on the state Legislature to pursue legislation prohibiting people on watch lists from buying a weapon.

The Sunshine State Survey found 60 percent of women think banning semi-automatic assault weapons is a step in the right direction, compared to 39 percent of men. The survey also found 56 percent of college graduates, 56 percent of retired Floridians, and 61 percent of African-American Floridians, thought a ban was a step in the right direction.

The survey also looked at whether Floridians thought it should be easier or harder for felons to regain gun rights. The survey found 57 percent of Floridians thought it should be harder and 3 percent said it should be impossible for convicted felons to have their gun rights restored.

Convicted felons can currently have their rights restored, but need to wait eight years before they can apply and the governor must approve their request.

One-third of Floridians said they supported the current policy.

Sixty percent of females said it should be harder for felons to have their rights restored, compared to 53 percent of men. Among those Floridians with children still in their homes, 59 percent said it should be more difficult for felons to get guns.

The Sunshine State Survey was conducted by The Nielsen Company from Sept. 1 through Sept. 9. The company surveyed 1,248 Floridians, and the survey has a margin of error of 2.7 percent.

felons

Florida Democratic delegation calls on Rick Scott to extend registration deadline to Oct. 14

(UPDATE) As Gov. Rick Scott continues to offer updates on Hurricane Matthew while it slowly moves up Florida’s Atlantic Coast, members of Florida’s Democratic delegation are calling on him to extend the voter registration deadline from next Tuesday to Friday, Oct. 14.

“We strongly urge you to extend the deadline for our citizens to register to vote in November’s election, at least from October 11th to October 14th,” reads the letter. “It goes without saying that our democracy is stronger when more people vote. With a natural disaster on our doorstep, registering to vote understandably will not be possible in the immediate aftermath of such a significant storm. Of course, clean up and dealing with storm-related damage will be many Floridians’ primary focus.”

The letter was sent by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and co-signed by Sen. Bill Nelson, and Congress members Alcee Hastings, Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch, Frederica Wilson, Alan Grayson, Lois Frankel, Patrick Murphy, and Gwen Graham.

Scott rejected such a request made on Thursday by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“I’m not going to extend it,” the governor told reporters Thursday. “Everybody has had a lot of time to register. On top of that, we have lots of opportunities to vote: early voting, absentee voting, Election Day. So I don’t intend to make any changes.”

Another Republican governor whose state is preparing to be hit by Hurricane Matthew, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, has extended her state’s registration deadline, which was scheduled for Saturday. That prompted the ACLU of Florida to join the Democratic delegation in calling on Scott to extend Florida’s registration deadline.

Later on Friday the ACLU of Florida made their own request to extend the voter registration deadline.

“This is a simple, non-partisan request for the governor to use his authority to ensure that every eligible voter has the opportunity to participate in this important election,” said ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon. “Preparing our state for a natural disaster and enabling full and fair participation in our democratic process aren’t mutually exclusive – in fact, they should go hand in hand.”

There has been some speculation the Democrats may sue Scott to extend the registration deadline if he doesn’t adhere to their request. But as election expert Rick Hasen wrote on Thursday in Slate, Scott could be sued for actually extending the deadline on the basis that such an extension is illegal, since only the Florida Legislature is allowed to set the rules on presidential elections.

The request to extend the deadline is hardly trivial, as parts of the state contend with the hurricane. As as has been widely reported in the past 24 hours, University of Florida political science professor Dan Smith has estimated “roughly” 50,000 people were registered in Florida over the last five days before the deadline in 2012.

Read the letter below:

Dear Governor Scott:

Thank you for your leadership and all of the hard work that you and state employees are doing to ensure the safety and security of Floridians as we prepare for Hurricane Matthew and related tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings.

We appreciate your steady communication with federal, state, and local leaders, as well as public health, transportation, and law enforcement experts, to ensure our state is fully prepared for evacuations, shelter openings, prevention of power outages, monitoring of fuel supply, search and rescue, and provisioning of resources and supplies.

As you have rightly cautioned our citizens, Hurricane Matthew is a life-threatening storm that Floridians must take seriously, or risk being killed by it. President Obama has officially declared Hurricane Matthew’s expected impact in Florida to be a federal emergency, and we will work with you to ensure Florida has the federal recovery resources and support we need.

Some of the potential impacts of the storm include structural damage to even the sturdiest buildings, which will be worsened by large airborne projectiles, and make some locations uninhabitable for months. In addition, we can expect trees to snap or uproot, rendering many roads impassable and causing widespread power and communications outages.

The federal government has further cautioned that surging and deadly winds are not the only areas of concern — major rainfall flooding can also be life-threatening, with rivers and tributaries rapidly overflowing their banks, causing flood control systems and barriers to become stressed, and escape routes to become submerged.

The bottom line is that Floridians do not and should not have anything on their minds right now other than keeping themselves and their families safe from what could be a historic Category 4 blow to a large part of our state. As a result, it will be logistically challenging and likely impossible for many who would like to register to vote to be able to do so before the impending deadline on October 11th.

We strongly urge you to extend the deadline for our citizens to register to vote in November’s election, at least from October 11th to October 14th. It goes without saying that our democracy is stronger when more people vote.  With a natural disaster on our doorstep, registering to vote understandably will not be possible in the immediate aftermath of such a significant storm. Of course, clean up and dealing with storm-related damage will be many Floridians’ primary focus.

Therefore, we respectfully request an extension of the voter registration deadline so that we may ensure the franchise, the integrity of our democracy, and the rights we as Americans hold dear, are fully protected.

As elected officials, we must do all that we can to keep our citizens safe as well as safeguard the freedom of every individual to elect their representatives, from the state house to the White House.

 

 

Orlando facing prospect of all-freshman lineup in Congress

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown and her nearly 24 years in Congress – gone.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and his nearly six years in Congress – gone.

U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster and his nearly six years in Congress – gone, moved to an outside district.

U.S. Rep. John Mica and his nearly 24 years in Congress – more at risk than he’s faced in more than a decade.

This year, Orlando is losing most and potentially all its seniority, experience, leadership and clout in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Whoever gets elected, the voters’ choices for change may wind up being for the better. And in the long run, who knows, at this point, how effective the new class might become?

But at first it could be like replacing an entire college basketball team starting lineup with freshmen for the coming year. And it’s not about wins or losses. At least in the short term, it’s about attracting Washington’s attention to Central Florida’s needs and priorities, and about finding and bringing federal money for such discretionary goodies as transportation improvements, veterans’ facilities, military simulation center support, social services’ grants, and college and university research funding.

Might Central Florida’s next congressional starting line-up be able to compete?

“It certainly might have a big effect when you lose so many people who are established in Washington and have been serving this area for at least some time,” said University of Central Florida political scientist Aubrey Jewett. “How much it hurts will be determined by which party is in control of Congress. That’s going to play a big role.”

Technically, Orlando still has U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, the Rockledge Republican, assuming he wins re-election in Florida’s 8th Congressional District. But he’s always been first and foremost about the Space Coast, not the inland counties, though his district includes a sparsely-populated corner of Orange County.

Technically, Orlando may be picking up U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Flagler County Republican, whose newly-redrawn Florida’s 6th Congressional District, assuming he wins re-election, stretches into the northernmost Orlando suburbs in Volusia County. But his attention more likely would be focused east and north, from Daytona through St. Augustine, where his base always has been.

Technically, Orlando may be able to count on Webster, the Clermont Republican, assuming he wins re-election, because he’ll still be representing Orlando’s western-most suburbs in Lake County, if he’s elected in Florida’s 11th Congressional District. But he no longer has any responsibility toward Orlando voters. And any congressional clout Webster had was largely stripped away in 2015 anyway, after he first challenged John Boehner and then Paul Ryan for the house speakership. Insurgents who lose are not rewarded with shared power.

That leaves Mica, the Winter Park Republican who is the only Orlando-oriented member of Congress with a chance to still be in office next year. Suddenly he is getting a stiff challenge from Stephanie Murphy in a race the national Democrats are trying very hard to win, for Florida’s 7th Congressional District seat representing north Orange County and Seminole County. A poll commissioned by Democrats last week showed her in the margin of error against him.

Mica, first elected in 1992, is almost a poster child for how a member of Congress grows in power with seniority, key committee assignments, and longterm relationships, and using them to bring federal support for his district. SunRail, the Interstate 4 expansion, Orlando International Airport expansions, the Orlando Veterans Administration Medical Center, Orlando’s National Center for Simulation, and other Orlando projects have gotten federal approval and money, due in part to his his connections, and in part to his work with Brown, Grayson, and Webster, who had their own clout.

Mica makes congressional seniority and the power that comes with it a key part of his campaign message.

“I do have a senior position in Congress and because there are 435 members it takes many years to gain positions of importance,” he said.

Mica offers another advantage, as big brother to the new members of Congress. Orlando will have two freshmen for sure, either Democratic state Sen. Darren Soto or Republican businessman Wayne Liebnitzky in Grayson’s old Florida’s 9th Congressional District; and either Democratic former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings or retired businesswoman Thuy Lowe in Webster’s old Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Brown’s entire district is gone. First her district was pulled from Orlando in last year’s redistricting, then she lost her primary.

Statewide, there will be at least seven freshmen, out of 27 Florida members of Congress.

“If I’m re-elected one of the things I’m going to work with both Republicans and Democrats in my position – I’m fairly well respected – to help them get on committees that they want. Eventually they will benefit our community and our state, and of course our country too,” Mica said. “That’s one of my goals: to help place and mentor the new kids on the block.”

But there’s that word “if,” which seemed unnecessary and modest until recently, though Mica always says he never takes re-election for granted.

Mica also has political policy positions and records, particularly conservative views on social issues, which Murphy and the Democrats are portraying as out of step with the changing, younger, more diverse, more Democratic new CD 7, which covers much of north Orange County and all of Seminole County.

Murphy is asking voters to trade Mica’s seniority and experience for fresh ideas and more liberal policies. National Democrats are investing millions of dollars to help her knock off Mica. A recent poll – commissioned by Democrats – showed the race within the margin of error.

She also says that Congress simply doesn’t work anymore, adding that Mica votes with the Republican line 97 percent of the time. So his seniority is partisan, she said.

“I think seniority is important if you are willing to work across the aisle in a bipartisan manner and actually lead on issues,” she said.

She dismissed any notion that the next class of Orlando members of Congress would lack experience.

“I have deep experience in business, in national security and academia and I would be able to draw on those real-world experiences to bring fresh perspectives to Congress, and a willingness to work across the aisle to get things done,” Murphy said. “I’m excited about the prospect of having a trio of members of Congress representing the Orlando area who will be a powerhouse representing the area with fresh new ideas that actually represent the people as opposed to being very partisan.”

Meanwhile, Orlando leaders are bracing for changes that are likely to require them to start over in building relationships with member of Congress, whether Mica or Murphy wins. The lobbyists and institutional leaders across the region insist they play no political or partisan favorites – they just want someone they can talk to who can get things done.

“We’ve been very fortunate in terms of the team we have there, not just who’s there, but the length of them they’ve had there, and their abilities to be effective. I’m very mindful about the changes that might take place. I’ve had discussions with board members about what that might mean,” said Harry Barley, executive director of MetroPlan Orlando, Central Florida’s transportation planning agency.

He noted both Brown and Mica have had senior positions on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, saying, “They’ve worked well together over the years. I’m not sure they’ve agreed on anything other than transportation. But that’s been a very great team. They’ve both been very, very helpful to us.”

Michael Waldrop, chair of Orlando’s Veterans Advisory Council, said the issue is making sure the new members of Congress are willing to work together to forward veterans’ and defense concerns, which he said must be non-partisan matters.

“You would hope a newer delegation that represents us in Central Florida realizes this and if they can work together on any one or two topics then it is the defense of our nation nd supporting our veteran community,” he said.

UCF Senior Vice President Dan Holsenbeck, who has overseen the university’s lobbying for decades, said there is reason to be concerned, but ultimately reasons to be hopeful.

“Seniority is the way you get a principal voice in budgeting, the way you get access to make meaningfully comments on policy,” Holsenbeck said. “So if you lose your seniority in the eleciton, then it does have a significant impact on policy and budgeting, on persuasion opportunities.”

But, he added, new relationships eventually lead to new opportunities.

“We’ve done very well over the years, our president and others, to build new relationships,” he said. “That would be our challenge, to build new relationships of trust and support for UCF.”

Patrick Murphy to debate Marco Rubio two times before Nov 8 election

Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio announced Monday they would debate three times and participate in a separate campaign forum, bringing an end to speculation Murphy was reluctant to engage in debates with the GOP Senate incumbent. However, there’s still a dispute about how many events they will actually have, because Rubio says two of the events have ties to Murphy supporters.

The first debate will be held in Orlando on October 17, and is sponsored by POLITICO, ABC affiliate WFTV, and Cox Media, and will be broadcast statewide on ABC affiliate stations. That’s still one.

The next debate will the Leadership Florida and Florida Press Association at Broward College in Davie on Oct. 26, also broadcast on ABC affiliates (that debate had previously been announced).

The candidates’ third scheduled debate is in question: that’s the event co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Telemundo and broadcast on Telemundo stations from Tampa. That, along with a separate forum at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, may not happen, because the Rubio camp says they’re affiliated with Murphy supporters.

Nevertheless, the news will undoubtedly please statewide Democrats who weren’t enthused about the perception that Murphy was not eager to debate Rubio, who he trails in virtually every poll published on the U.S. Senate race in Florida.

“I’m excited to debate Marco Rubio and talk about the issues that matter most to Florida families,” said Murphy. “Floridians face an important choice this November, between someone who will show up and work hard for them, and Marco Rubio, who abandoned our state and has the worst vote attendance record of any Florida Senator in nearly 50 years. I look forward to making that choice clear in our upcoming debates.”

The day after the Florida Primary on Aug. 31, Rubio immediately challenged Murphy to six debates. Murphy initially called it a “stunt,” and said he’s only do so if Rubio committed to serving a full six-year term (something that Rubio has not done). Rubio brought the issue back up on Monday.

“As he’s done in every election he’s been a part of — Patrick Murphy is ducking debates yet again. I did six debates six years ago. Why only do half now? ” Rubio said in a statement. “Floridians today deserve no less than what they received in 2010, and they deserve to know where we stand on the important issues facing our country. I will ask Patrick, once again, to join me in committing to six media-sponsored debates between now and Election Day.”

Murphy did not debate his challengers — Alan Grayson and Pam Keith — in the Senate Democratic Primary.

David Jolly accuses Charlie Crist of lying about his stance on student debt

For the second time in a little over a week, the David Jolly campaign is accusing Charlie Crist of lying about Jolly’s record.

At issue on Thursday was a tweet by Crist, in which he said Jolly opposed the refinancing of student debt.

Not true, countered the Jolly campaign. They responded by providing a link to a videotape of Jolly’s debate against Alan Grayson April 25, where he said, “There are some simple things we can do right now by allowing student loans to be refinanced, by making them eligible for reorganization in bankruptcy cases — those are two initiatives I have supported …”

Jolly added he would also like to create additional flexibility for accelerating and expanding Pell Grants, and would also like to tie the performance of longterm student loans to what the universities receive in federal funding.

Jolly is also one of just two Republican co-sponsors on a bill (H.R. 449) that would make student loan debt eligible for reorganization in bankruptcy and other relief provisions. Congresswoman Kathy Castor is a co-sponsor of the same bill.

Jolly does not support the “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act” (SB 2432) first introduced in the Senate by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2014. The bill has more than 170 co-sponsors, including Castor.

“Then why hasn’t he co-sponsored the bill?” Crist spokesman Kevin Cate responded. “Actions speak louder than words.” The Crist camp also says they’d like to know any other examples in which Jolly has come out in support of refinancing student debt.

According to the Jolly campaign, this is Crist’s second misstatement, or lie, of the campaign. On Election Night last week, Crist said Jolly was supporting Donald Trump‘s agenda. The Jolly camp took offense to that, saying the GOP congressman has not endorsed Trump for president.

The Crist campaign responds their candidate never said Jolly had endorsed Trump, but that he supported Trump’s agenda.

“This Republican primary season has been pretty frightening,” Crist said in that statement. “It saddens me to think that anyone who supports Donald Trump’s agenda could ever represent Pinellas County. And I look forward to sharing our vision for seniors, veterans, women, students, and our environment in the weeks ahead.”

 

Bill Rufty: Polk becoming a two-Party county?

Polk County will likely never return to the Democratic bastion that was home to four U.S. senators, three governors, and four presidents of the Florida Senate.

But from Tuesday’s primaries and the fielding of candidates for the Nov. 8 general elections, Polk Democrats are slowly learning to make the now-GOP bastion a two-party county again.

There was a big Democratic Primary in eastern Polk County for Florida’s 9th Congressional District, but not one of the four candidates were from Polk.

However, for the first time in a decade, there was a Democratic Primary for Florida House District 41, which is fully contained within the county’s borders.

As the I-4 corridor begins to turn Democratic in performance, eastern Polk County appears to be following the trend. But the western side, which includes Lakeland, Bartow and Mulberry, is still the Republican stronghold it has been since 1996.

The highest level race in the county and much of Central Florida was a congressional race where a Democrat is almost certain to win a general election run after court-ordered redistricting.

State Sen. Darren Soto’s win over former Alan Grayson aide Susannah Randolph, Grayson’s wife Dr. Dena Grayson, and former Osceola County Democratic Party Chair Valleri Crabtree can be credited to the significant margin in Osceola County, a Democratic stronghold among the three counties making up the district. He barely won the Orange County section and came in third in the Polk County section of his district.

Democrats in Polk County are hoping to win a Florida House seat in Polk County for the first time since 1998.

Former Circuit Court Judge Bob Doyel handily won the Democratic Party’s nomination over Nicholas Garcia in the primary and now faces former contractor and Republican fundraiser Sam Killebrew, a formidable Republican activist.

Killebrew won the GOP nod by a narrow margin over former 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge Charles Davis.

It was Davis’ first run for a partisan political office and, although running as a Republican, he failed to adhere to what has become a tenant of the GOP: get the absentee voters first.

Davis won at the polls Tuesday, but longtime political planner and activist Killebrew won the race with the mail-in and early vote ballots.

The anticipated overhaul of the sometimes intransigent and stagnant Polk County School Board wound up about 50-50. After a scandal involving the then-superintendent and a top aide and the board’s slowness to do anything, many believed there would be tight contests for the four school board seats up for election this year.

One board member drew no opposition, while another, perhaps in part sensing public anger, did not seek re-election. That left two seats with incumbents and an open seat for the nonpartisan election in Tuesday’s primary.

Incumbent Lori Cunningham received more than 50 percent of the vote and was returned for her fourth four-year term.

But the other incumbent, Hunt Berryman, was a very distant second to the first-time candidate and school board critic Billy Townsend in the three-way race. Still, Townsend must now contend with Berryman in a runoff.

Becky Troutman, wife of former Florida House member and potential 2018 Cabinet candidate Baxter Troutman, led by 9,000 votes in the four-way race for the open school board seat, but did not get the required 50 percent of the vote. She will face Sara Beth Reynolds in the general election.

The most surprising win from a vote-margin standpoint was the re-election of Polk County Judge Susan Flood Barberdisciplined for an alleged romantic relationship with her bailiff.

She had been the target of some Republican leaders, who released photos of her looking at state attorney’s evidence against her while a deposition was in recess. Barber apparently didn’t realize the room’s security cameras were on, they said. It is a nonpartisan race, but so what? Parties don’t care when trying to elect one of their own.

But Barber was returned to the bench, winning by a margin of 5,500 votes over challenger Carson Bassett, due in part to a last-minute Facebook post from a well-known local attorney who endorsed her.

The results of Tuesday’s Primary elections in Polk County:

Polk Democratic Primary 9th Congressional District

Susannah Randolph – 4,791/34.67 percent

Dena Grayson – 4,534/32.81 percent

Darren Soto – 3,526/25.52 percent

Valleri Crabtree – 968/7 percent

Democratic Primary Entire 9th Congressional District

Darren Soto – 14,496/36.26 percent

Susannah Randolph – 11,267/28.18 percent     

Dena Grayson – 11,122/27.82 percent

Valleri Crabtree – 3,093/7.74 percent

Polk Republican Primary 9th Congressional District

Wayne Liebnitzky – 9,662/66.33 percent

Wanda Rentas – 4,904/33.67 percent

Republican Primary Entire 9th Congressional District

Wayne Liebnitzky – 22,725/67.56 percent

Wanda Rentas – 10,911/32.44 percent

Polk Republican Primary Florida House District 41

Sam Killebrew – 5,134/51.26 percent

Charles Davis – 4,881/48.74 percent

Polk Democratic Primary Florida House District 41

Bob Doyel – 5,360/64.95 percent

Nicolas Garcia  2,892/35.05 percent

Polk County Commission (Universal Ballot)

Bill Braswell – 40,889/66.21 percent

J.C. Martin – 20,868/33.79 percent

Polk County Judge

Susan Barber – 36,026/54.13 percent

Carson Bassett – 30,530/45.87 percent

Polk County School Board District 1

Billy Townsend (Runoff) – 27,978/42.64 percent

Hunt Berryman (Runoff) – 21,500/32.77 percent

Ed Shoemaker – 16,135/24.59 percent

Polk County School Board District 2

Lori Cunningham (Elected)  33,391/51.99 percent

Ronnie L. Clark – 17,202/26.78 percent

Kevin J. Kitto – 7,000/10.90 percent

Tim James – 6,634/10.33 percent

Polk County School Board District 4

Becky Troutman (Runoff) – 25,105/38.26 percent

Sara Beth Reynolds (Runoff) – 16,466/25.10 percent

Ed Smith – 16,085/24.52 percent

Rebekah Ricks – 7,956 /12.13 percent

 

Mitch Perry Report for 9.1.16 —The debate about the debates begins in Florida

I think I speak for a lot of Florida political observers in expressing my disappointment that, for whatever reason, Patrick Murphy never debated his Democratic Senate opponents, Pam Keith and Alan Grayson, during the just-concluded primary campaign.

Murphy avoided debates organized by Florida Public Radio stations and Bay News 9/News 13 in Orlando well before news broke that Grayson’s ex-wife accused him of abusing her. When that news broke, Murphy said Grayson was not worthy of a debate (ignoring Pam Keith at the time).

Now that he’s an underdog (if just slightly) against Republican Marco Rubio in the general election, however, Murphy hardly can be the one dictating terms. Right?

Not exactly. After Rubio went bold and challenged Murphy to six (!) debates yesterday, Murphy came back and challenged Rubio to say he will commit to serving for six years. Since Rubio won’t do that, Murphy said he’ll do just one debate, in late October.

There probably would never be six debates, but just one? Why not at least two or three?

Look, Rubio has had to suck it up big-time now that he has gone against his vows not to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, after he faded out badly in his run for the presidency. But with a real chance that he could compete again in 2020, he’s made the political calculation that it’s better to be part of the system in Washington to try another run.

If he were to be quoted on tape as saying that he was committed to serving all six years, and then announced in 2019 that he was running for president, well, his Republican rivals would shred him to pieces. Carlos Beruff didn’t lay a hand on him during the primary, so now it’s mano-a-mano against Murphy until Nov. 8.

Rubio seems pretty confident against the two-term Democrat from Jupiter, thus the bold announcement of six debates, immediately putting Murphy on the spot.

Murphy has been hammering all week how Rubio shouldn’t be seriously considered because of his failure to declare to serve a full term if elected. That’s a smart strategy, but he can’t say it for 70 more days. It’s going to come down to policy.

As it stands now, submitting to just one debate feels somewhat insubstantial, and an extension of what happened this past summer.

In other news …

Despite having no money and little name recognition, Pam Keith came close to getting more votes than Alan Grayson in the Florida Democratic Senate primary. Keith says she “feels like a winner” while still realizing the name of the game in politics is winning.

And they’re off: HD 60 Democratic candidate David Singer says Republican Jackie Toledo’s stances on illegal immigrants in Florida “on board” with Donald Trump.

While some people may be stunned to have seen Tim Schock trounce Jim Norman in Tuesday night’s attempt by Norman to make his political comeback, Schock said he wasn’t.

Sarasota poli sci professor Frank Alcock is going to kick off his general election campaign against Republican Greg Steube in Florida’s 23rd Senate District by doing the “Tour de Frank” this weekend.

Alan and Dena Grayson blame losses on ‘sewer money,’ don’t rule out political comebacks

Don’t expect U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson to offer any support to fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in what is likely to be a brutal U.S. Senate contest with Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

“Absolutely not,” Grayson told FloridaPolitics.com Wednesday, before accusing Murphy of running “possibly the dirtiest campaign that Florida has ever seen” and bringing up his previous allegations that Murphy is no Democrat.

Murphy, of Palm Beach Gardens, thrashed Grayson, of Orlando, on Tuesday in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary. Murphy took 59 percent of the vote to Grayson’s 18 percent, with Miami lawyer Pam Keith grabbing 15 percent.

The overwhelming victory puts Murphy up against Rubio, who won his own overwhelming victory Tuesday. This fall’s campaign is likely to be bloody and close. Grayson, a progressive-wing icon in the Democratic Party, might be able to inspire a few progressive voters to support Murphy. But he won’t.

Grayson blamed his fall in the Democratic primary — he once was running pretty close to Murphy in statewide polls — on what he called “sewer money”: advertising blitzes this summer by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee’s Senate Majority PAC, funded by Murphy’s father; and on the $4 million Grayson said Murphy collected from Wall Street interests and spent.

The same is true for Grayson’s wife, Dena Grayson, who lost her bid for the Democratic primary nomination to run for his seat in CD 9. In a separate interview with FloridaPolitics.com, she too blamed her loss on “sewer money,” PAC money that supported winner state Sen. Darren Soto in the closing weeks.

Soto got 36 percent, and Grayson and Susannah Randolph each got 28 percent.

Murphy’s campaign declined to comment on Alan Grayson’s statements. Soto’s did not respond to a request for comment on Dena Grayson’s statements.

Neither of the Graysons believe they are finished with politics.

First, they’re planning a honeymoon. The couple were married May 29 and a couple of days later hit the campaign trails. They’re not providing details of their honeymoon plans.

She called the honeymoon “first and foremost,” saying, “So much for marrying for political reasons; I married for love.”

After that, Alan Grayson said he plans to finish his term as representative to Florida’s 9th Congressional District by trying to get a few more amendments passed to support his causes and after that he is undecided what he will do next.

He left the door open for another possible statewide campaign in Florida in the future. He noted he carried Orange and Osceola counties and five Florida Panhandle counties — areas where his campaign ran big, late TV blitzes — and said there may be prospects from that.

He said he has no immediate plans to return to his practice as a lawyer pursuing federal whistle-blower cases.

He also said he envisions pursuing some of his political goals, such as restoring voting rights for convicted felons, as a government outsider pushing such reforms in federal, state and local venues.

And he’s not walking away from Tuesday’s primary loss with any gracious congratulations for Murphy. Grayson’s campaign centered on the message that he was a progressive Democratic warrior while Murphy was a Republican who changed parties — but not political philosophies.

“He’s denying Florida voters a true choice. He’s a Republican. We have a Republican running against a Republican,” Alan Grayson said.

He blamed his free fall among voters and ultimate 40-point loss as “very simply the $5 million of sewer money” the DSCC and Murphy’s campaign and PAC spent on advertising in July and August.

The DSCC advertising, he said, was paid for by the $1 million contribution the elder Murphy made on July 13.

Alan Grayson said his drop in the polls had nothing to do with the reports that resurfaced in late July about domestic violence reports his ex-wife Lolita Grayson had filed against him during their marriage. He called the reports a “regurgitation of the false allegations made two years ago” which he has always denied. He said they were pushed by the DSCC and Murphy’s campaign. But ultimately, he said, he doesn’t believe voters were affected by them.

Dena Grayson said the super PAC money coming to support Soto and Randolph, principally from Common Sense Leadership for America, funded by Houston hedge fund billionaire John Arnold, totaled nearly $600,000 and made the difference in the election.

“The sewer money came in. It clearly had a big effect. That’s what ended up happening. Dirty money wins, and Democracy loses,” Dena Grayson said.

She, too, would not rule out a political future. But she is a biomedical researcher and said she could be happy doing that as well.

With more than 173,000 votes, Senate hopeful Pam Keith says she feels like a winner

Although Pam Keith was always in the Senate race to win it, she won’t deny the sense of satisfaction she felt Wednesday, even though she came up well short of defeating Patrick Murphy for the Democratic nomination.

Keith captured more than 173,000 votes in the Florida Democratic Primary, finishing less than 2.5 percent behind Alan Grayson for third place in the Democratic Senate race. The 33-year-old Murphy captured 59 percent of the vote. Grayson finished in second place with just under 18 percent, and Keith, the former Navy JAG officer and Miami-based attorney, came in third with 15.4 percent. And she did that while barely raising $250,000 and airing no television ads.

“I think I conducted myself with grace, and I ran a positive campaign,” said Keith in a phone conversation Wednesday afternoon. “I didn’t spend my time smearing my opponents, and so I know I didn’t win, but I still feel like a winner. Certainly, the feedback I’ve gotten back today has been nothing but positive and encouraging.”

And unlike Grayson, Keith has already endorsed Murphy (on her Facebook page) in his race against Marco Rubio in the general election. “My goal is to make sure that we take control of the Senate and retain the White House, and if I can be helpful, I will be,” she said.

During the heat of the campaign, though, Keith was hardly so sanguine about Murphy, the Democratic Party’s establishment choice from early in 2015. She was particularly piqued when he would not submit to participating in a single debate this summer, despite several media organizations’ attempts to do so. After Grayson’s ex-wife accused the Orlando congressman of domestic abuse, Murphy unilaterally declared he would not debate him, while barely acknowledging he also was blowing off Keith.

“I think that was very wrongheaded,” she said of Murphy’s decision. “What Patrick did was basically take a default position that he had so much of a lead in fundraising and visibility, that the best move for him was to just make sure that nobody else could get any visibility or oxygen, and he would win by default,” she recounts. “And I think that a lot of people who ended up voting for him, voted for him because they didn’t even know that they had another choice, or given the opportunity to see that they had a choice.

“But the name of the game of politics is winning, and his strategy worked, so you can’t fault him for doing what he thinks you need to do to win. I just think that’s not in the interest of voters.”

Perhaps Keith’s biggest moment during her quixotic campaign occurred a few weeks ago, when the Miami Herald editorial board endorsed her for the Democratic nomination, choosing her over Murphy and Grayson. Keith called that unexpected decision “a validation” of her candidacy. “It’s such a respected publication,” she said. “They didn’t do the ‘hey, this is the front-runner thing, so the front-runner gets our endorsement.’ They asked tough questions, and they based their decision on the merits of the answers given by the candidates.”

But for every positive moment like garnering the Herald’s endorsement, Keith continued to feel a lack of respect that comes in part from never having held public office. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel never invited her in for an endorsement interview, she says. Nor did the AFL-CIO. “I can’t say that I was allowed to compete head to head, and I didn’t win.  You know, that’s not exactly what happened.”

With a very real chance of recapturing the U.S. Senate this fall, the Democratic Party in Washington and Tallahassee rallied around Murphy immediately after he declared his candidacy for the Senate in the spring of 2015, with Barack Obama and Joe Biden making an unusual endorsement of Murphy early on. At that moment the party wasn’t even attempting to be unbiased in telegraphing who they were pulling for, a charge many Bernie Sanders supporters made about former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic National Committee frequently over the past year.

“I definitely think the president should not have chimed in this race,” Keith said. “I don’t think the titular head of a party should be endorsing candidates in primaries. I think that’s wrong, and it doesn’t make for a fair race. And if we start to lose faith that we have fair primaries, then we lose something critical, and I’m not sure that it can be fixed in the future if we let it go.”

While some of her supporters are already inquiring about her running for another office in two to four years, Keith said she’s not willing to commit to anything yet — other than that after a year-and-half on the road competing with limited financial resources, she needs a job. “If you know anyone’s hiring?” she laughed, before addressing the disappointment she hears from Florida progressives, not exactly thrilled about a Murphy candidacy.

“In politics, sometimes the candidates you want sometimes don’t win and sometimes things don’t go the way that you want them to, but you gotta keep your eye on the bigger picture, and you must be pragmatic, and there are a lot of things at stake this year, and I don’t want people to use their disappointment or their bitterness to be a block toward making rational choices.

“Our country needs us to be clearheaded, and to be pragmatic, and I’m inviting all my fellow Floridians out there to take heed of that.”

 

Marco Rubio challenges Patrick Murphy to six televised debates

Challenge, accepted?

On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio challenged Rep. Patrick Murphy to six media-sponsored live debates before Election Day. In a letter to Murphy, Rubio said Floridians deserved to hear from both candidates.

Rubio easily won his primary Tuesday, receiving 72 percent of the vote. He’ll face Murphy — who beat Alan Grayson with 49 percent of the vote — in the November election.

“Despite our differences, I hope we can agree that voters deserve to know where we stand on the important issues of our time,” he wrote in a letter to Murphy. “I am writing because when it comes to a debate about our future, I believe Floridians today deserve no less than what they received in 2010. Therefore, I’m asking you to join me in committing to six media-sponsored live debates between now and Election Day. Just as we did in 2010, at least one of these debates should be sponsored by a Spanish-language media outlet.”

Rubio faced Democrat Kendrick Meek and Charlie Crist, then running as an independent, in the 2010 Senate race. The three men agreed to do six debates, hosted by different media outlets.

In a statement Wednesday, Murphy said he was “excited to debate Marco Rubio.” But Murphy appeared to stop short of agreeing to six debates, and he added his own challenge to the mix.

“His ‘challenge’ today is nothing more than a desperate attempt to try and change the campaign narrative from the fact that he abandoned Florida,” said Murphy in a statement. “I have a counter-challenge: Sen, Rubio, commit to serving a six-year term.”

Earlier this week, Rubio told CNN he couldn’t commit to a full Senate term if he wins re-election. Murphy seized on it, retweeting his comments and saying he could make that commitment.

“Clearly, Marco Rubio doesn’t understand that campaigning and debating isn’t governing. Floridians deserve better than Marco Rubio, and that difference will be on display in the upcoming debates, including the Leadership Florida debate on Oct. 26,” said Murphy. “Sen. Rubio has the worst vote attendance record of any Florida senator in nearly 50 years. He completely abandoned our state and the day after his primary victory, he has already left Florida to raise money in Texas.”

Neither Murphy nor Rubio debated their primary opponents.

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