Alan Grayson – Page 5 – Florida Politics

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 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, 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.

Mitch Perry Report for 8.31.16 — Moving on to November

Good morning, everyone.

Florida’s primary election is history. So, where to begin?

Patrick Murphy will face Marco Rubio in November. Murphy crushed Alan Grayson, 59  to 18 percent, with Pam Keith a close third at 15 percent. Rubio gets credit for honesty, saying that he can’t say for sure that he’ll fulfill all six years of his term if elected, which naturally Murphy is attempting to exploit.

Boy, this race is going to get tawdry.

In what has to be considered a mini-upset, St. Petersburg’s Darryl Rouson holds an ever-so-slight lead over Ed Narain when all the votes were tabulated in last night’s Senate District 19 race. With over 37,000 votes cast on both sides of the Bay, Rouson had 61 more votes, close enough to trigger an automatic machine recount after Thursday. A huge (probable) win for Rouson, and a big loss for not just Narain, but the Florida Democratic Party, who have viewed Narain as an up-and-coming star in the party. He likely will be back, but not in 2017.

Augie Ribeiro did decently in St. Pete in terms of votes, but there was no way he was able to get his name out effectively enough in such a short time. A lot of people are talking today about how big money came up short in this election, but in the case of Ribeiro, he was trying to go from zero to 60 in less than two months.

You don’t have Jim Norman to kick around anymore, Hillsborough Democrats, Republicans and members of the media. That comeback experience ended last night, and now his GOP opponent, Tim Schock, advances to the general election against Pat Kemp. That should be a good battle, and one would think the Hillsborough Dems would get strongly behind Kemp. If not, they’re looking at a board that will have a 6-1 Republican advantage.

Jackie Toledo narrowly edged out Rebecca Smith in the GOP House District 60 race. Congrats to Toledo, who absolutely outworked Smith in the grassroots to get more votes.

The trash talking has already begun in the CD 13 race between David Jolly and Charlie Crist after Jolly cruised to an easy re-election victory in his GOP race for the nomination.

In the end, it wasn’t all that close in South Florida, as former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz defeated insurgent progressive challenger Tim Canova by 14 points, 57 to 43 percent in the race for Congress in Florida’s 23rd District.

Ben Diamond defeated Eric Lynn in the highly competitive House District 68 race in Pinellas County.

Tampa attorney Sean Shaw won a close contest against East Tampa businesswoman Dianne Hart in the House District 61 seat.

Pat Frank whipped Kevin Beckner in the Hillsborough Clerk of the Courts race.

Daniel Webster wins in CD 11.

It wouldn’t be Election Day in Hillsborough County with some report of shenanigans taking place. As this one went, however, it was pretty small potatoes.

Murphy’s comment to us on Monday that he’d likely pursue adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act continues to ruffle the waters, as this statement from Americans for Prosperity Florida indicates.

Sarasota area Republican Alex Miller says she’ll change her main TV ad now that she’s going to the general election in House District 72, after several members of the public stated that they didn’t appreciate her “one of us” tagline.

With a major storm approaching Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn used the occasion yesterday to lobby City Council members to approve his $250 million stormwater infrastructure improvement plan.

Patrick Murphy easily wins Democratic nod for U.S. Senate race

Florida’s Democrats Tuesday picked U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy’s youth, moderate politics and well-oiled campaign machine to battle with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat this fall.

Murphy, 33, of Palm Beach Gardens, crushed U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando and lawyer Pam Keith of Miami in what had been a cutthroat primary campaign battle, preparing the winner for what likely will be another cutthroat general election battle this fall.

Early returns showed Murphy with an insurmountable lead, drawing 59 percent of the Democratic vote, while Grayson was receiving 17 percent and Keith 15 percent.

Rubio was easily defeating Bradenton businessman Carlos Beruff for the Republican nomination.

“I am honored to earn the Democratic nomination to be Florida’s next U.S. Senator,” Murphy said. “Over the past year, I have met and listened to so many hardworking families from across our state. They deserve a senator who values hard work, and who will always put them first. Together, I know that we can strengthen our middle class, strengthen Social Security and Medicare, pass meaningful legislation to curb gun violence, and defend a woman’s right to choose.

“For the past six years, Marco Rubio has put himself first, failing to show up for his job except when it benefits his special interest campaign donors,” he continued. Sen. Rubio put his personal ambition ahead of Florida’s middle class, earning the worst vote attendance record for a Florida senator in nearly 50 years. Floridians are ready for a senator who puts them first, and we’re going to make that a reality this November.”

Murphy is a two-term congressman who had already proven he could run an all-out campaign when he defeated conservative Republican icon U.S. Rep. Allen West for his House seat in 2012.

He brings the kind of moderate record and calm demeanor to the campaign that harkens to the only other Democrats who’ve succeeded in recent decades, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.

Grayson had challenged that moderation as a weakness, and all along sought to depict the battle as a true progressive Democrat — himself — versus a Democrat of questionable Democratic values —Murphy. But in the end the contest was not about that. It was, as Murphy’s campaign had long expected, a contrast between someone who is Alan Grayson, and someone who isn’t.

Grayson’s campaign was barely seaworthy, having shed numerous top staffers over the past year and underperformed in fundraising and ground troops, and it could not survive Grayson’s own past or the barrage of Grayson criticisms shot its way by Murphy’s campaign. One final shot in late July, revelations alleging domestic violence, sank Grayson.

Keith was never a serious factor, lost in Grayson’s progressive-champion shadow and shut out by Murphy’s almost complete accumulation of mainline party support. Yet she picked up some surprising late support, including an endorsement from the Miami Herald, and nearly caught Grayson for second in the voting.

It’s not the party … it’s the after party! A rundown of where Florida candidates will be on Election Night

Win or lose, at least there will be a party.

Election night parties will be raging across the state Tuesday night. For some candidates, it’s a chance to celebrate and thank supporters; maybe even have a little bit of fun before the final sprint to November. It will be a somber event for others, marking the last hurrah of their campaign.

Here’s a rundown of where candidates will be partying hard when the polls close on Tuesday.

U.S. Senate

Rep. Patrick Murphy will hold his primary night shindig at the DoubleTree Hotel in Palm Beach Gardens. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. It will likely be a celebratory bash; polls have Murphy leading Rep. Alan Grayson by double digits. A St. Leo University poll conducted between Aug. 14 and Aug. 18 showed Murphy led Grayson 48 percent to 17 percent. A Florida Chamber Polling Institute survey, conducted from Aug. 17 to Aug. 22, showed Murphy was at 40 percent to Grayson’s 11 percent.

Sen. Marco Rubio will hold his primary night party at the Embassy Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista South in Kissimmee. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and guests are asked to register. Rubio is leading in the polls, with the St. Leo University poll showing he leads Carlos Beruff 68 percent to 14 percent. The Florida Chamber survey found Rubio leads Beruff 68 percent to 19 percent.

U.S. House

CD 2 — Neal Dunn is holding his election night gathering at the home of two supporters, Carey and Nancy Scott, in Panama City. The event begins at 7 p.m. central time (8 p.m. eastern time).

CD 4 — Republican John Rutherford will hold his election night party at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. The party kicks off at 7 p.m. Melissa Nelson, a state attorney candidate in Florida’s 4th Judicial Circuit, will also be holding her party at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.

CD 7 — Democrat Stephanie Murphy is hosting an primary night watch party at 7 p.m. at CaddyShanks the University of Central Florida.

CD 5 — Al Lawson will hold his election night party at The Moon in Tallahassee. The party kicks off at 6:30 p.m.

CD 10 — Democrat Bob Poe is hosting a primary night party at 7 p.m. at his campaign headquarters in Orlando

CD 11  — Republican Justin Grabelle plans to spend the evening at home, watching the returns and celebrating with his family and friends.

CD 18 — Republican Brian Mast kicks off his primary night party at 6:30 p.m. at the Palm City Civic Organization in Palm City. Republican Rebecca Negron will hold her election night watch party at Stuart Coffee in downtown Stuart. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. On the Democratic side, Randy Perkins will hold his primary night watch party at 6:30 p.m. at Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce.

CD 19 — Chauncey Goss will hold his watch party at The Edison at Fort Myers Country Club. His party kicks off at 6 p.m. Francis Rooney will hold his primary watch party at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs. The watch party begins at 6 p.m.

CD 23 — Tim Canova will hold an election night watch party at a private residence in Pembroke Pines. The party starts at 8 p.m.

CD 26 — Joe Garcia, who is trying to reclaim his former seat in Congress, will hold his election night party at La Carreta in Miami. The event begins at 8:15 p.m.

State Senate

SD 12 — Dennis Baxley is holding his election night party at his campaign headquarters, 6006 S.E. Abshier Blvd. in Belleview. The fun kicks off at 7 p.m. and supporters are asked to RSVP to

SD 19 — Rep. Ed Narain is scheduled to hold his election night festivities at the Tampa Heights Community Center in Tampa. Augie Ribeiro is holding his party at Three Birds Tavern beginning 7 p.m. Rep. Darryl Rouson will be at the Green Bench Brewery beginning at 6 p.m.

SD 27 — Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto will hold her watch party at CRU Restaurant in Fort Myers. The party begins at 6:30 p.m., and supporters are asked to RSVP to

SD 28 — Rep. Matt Hudson is having a private party to thank volunteers, supporters, family and friends.  Rep. Kathleen Passidomo will her hold a primary night shindig at her campaign headquarters, located inside the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce building in Naples.

SD 34 — Democrat Gary Farmer is kicking off his party at 7:30 p.m. He’ll be watching returns with supporters at Maguire’s Hill 16 in Fort Lauderdale.

State House

HD 48 — Democrat Alex Barrio is holding his festivities at Oh’ Que Bueno Restaurant in Orlando. The event begins at 7:30 p.m.

HD 59 — Rena Frazier is holding her election night watch party at O’Toole’s Irish Pub in Brandon. The party begins at 6:30 p.m.

HD 68 — Ben Diamond is holding his party at 400 Beach Seafood and Taphouse in St. Petersburg. The party begins at 6:30 p.m., and Diamond will join supporters after the polls close at 7 p.m. Eric Lynn is settling in at Reno Downtown Joint in St. Petersburg for his election night party. The fun begins at 7 p.m.

HD 114 — Daisy Baez will hold her election night party at PinchMe Gastrobar & Market in Coral Gables. The festivities begin at 9 p.m.

Candidates won’t be the only ones hosting election night parties.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce will hold a primary watch party starting at 7 p.m. at the Florida Chamber of Commerce building, 136. S. Bronough St. in Tallahassee. The event is hosted by Marian Johnson, Andrew Wiggins, Andy Gonzalez, and Hannah Kaplan.

The Orange County Democratic Party is throwing a shindig at 5:30 p.m. at Hammered Lamb, 1235 N. Orange Ave. in Orlando. The first 50 Democrats to arrive will receive a free drink.

Tom Jackson: Maybe if we thought of primaries as playoffs …

The impression I get is people have the wrong idea about primary elections. To apply a sports analogy, people — I’d call them voters, except they’re plainly not — think of primaries as the exhibition season.

This is not without solid foundation. I mean, they do sort of look like the preseason. Starry-eyed unknowns hoping to take down the veteran; once-storied hotshots looking for one last hurrah. (I’m looking at you, Jim Norman.)

And the way we treat it, it’s like the Grapefruit League and NFL preseason rolled into one: fun to talk about, but if we miss it, meh, there’s always the Big One in November.

Even the name we give it sounds lightweight: the primaries, suggesting nothing more than a scrimmage among unknowns. It’s the I’ll-get-around-to-it-unless-something-else-comes-up election, and, given the usual turnouts, something usually does.

Hillsborough County’s elections Supervisor Craig Latimer is pretty fired up that about 104,000 ballots have been cast by mail (76,687) and at early voting precincts (27,667). But even if that number doubles come Tuesday’s Election Day — a stretch, with storms anticipated — it’ll mean only slightly more than a quarter of the county’s eligible voters will have bothered.

In the greater Tampa Bay area, early and mail turnout has been slightly better in Pinellas (19.5 percent) and Manatee (16.6 percent), but it’s worse in Pasco (11 percent) and Polk (9.9 percent).

At least those elections supervisors are reporting numbers. With a website that gives every sign of not having been updated in a month and is otherwise practically indecipherable, how Sarasota County is doing is anybody’s guess.

Moreover, given the number of studies that suggest early and mail balloting do not expand voter participation, but merely front-load it with those who’d otherwise show up on Election Day, it’s fair to predict — for all the hype about how this year is changing the very nature of elections — that nothing, really, is different.

Maybe we’re distracted by the approach of Labor Day. Or settling back into the school routine.

Maybe it’s the candidates, although the race for U.S. Senate scarcely lacks for intrigue, Republicans presenting “Liddle” Marco Rubio versus Carlos “Mini-Donald” Beruff and Democrats countering with Patrick “Never Mind My Resume” Murphy and Alan “I’ll Say Anything” Grayson.

Who wouldn’t want to help decide those? Answer: Close to 75 percent of us. Did I mention Labor Day?

Or maybe it’s a marketing problem.

Maybe if we called this first round something packing a little more brinksmanship, it would better stir the public’s passions. Like, say, “the semifinals.” Or, borrowing from professional sports, which have their conference or league championships, suppose we called them the “Party Championships,” and capitalized them.

Gives you a tingle, right? Makes you feel something important is at stake? Sort of makes you want to throw down? Heck, yeah.

In fact, in most cases, the party championship — excuse me, the Party Championship — is precisely what we’re deciding. What self-respecting major-party member couldn’t get charged up about that?

Add contests for circuit and county judges and the interesting, to say the least, primary election placement of a state constitutional amendment regarding the tax treatment of solar arrays on homesteaded property, and, folks, we don’t just have a major-party playoff happening Tuesday.

We have a playoff with the equivalent of a pregame tailgate party.

And if all that is insufficient motivation, remember this: If you skip out, you’re ceding influence to people who will vote.

Like me.

Mitch Perry Report for 8.30.16 — Election Day questions

Primary Election Day is here, finally, for those of us who care. Because that isn’t close to the majority of registered voters in Florida.

Going into today, the turnout by percentage via early and absentee voting here in Hillsborough County where I’m located was lower than it turned out to be in 2012, which Congresswoman Kathy Castor says is disappointing.

We’re talking below 20 percent, folks. Whether that percentage might increase if the election weren’t held in the last week of August is something really not worth contemplating, since tradition has kept it at this time for, well, ever since I came to this state back in 2000. Then again, we still had runoff primary elections in the state at that time.

So, what will I be looking at tonight? In my neighborhood of V.M. Ybor in Tampa, there are open seats for the House (between Sean Shaw, Dianne Hart, and Walter Smith) and Senate (Ed Narain, Augie Ribeiro, Darryl Rouson, and Betty Reed). Both are too close to call in my opinion at this time.

The House District 68 seat is up for grabs as well between Ben Diamond and Eric Lynn.

I suppose the most competitive congressional race in the Tampa Bay area is probably in CD 11, where first-time Republican candidate Justin Grabelle will try to defeat Daniel Webster, a well-known name in Florida Republican politics who has never run in the district, which encompasses Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter counties.

But there isn’t any drama in our U.S. Senate races. The Alan GraysonPatrick Murphy matchup had the potential to be one of the greats, but it’s devolved. Will underdog Pam Keith get into the high single digits after her endorsement from the Miami Herald?

At least Murphy is talking substance as he likely moves on the general. Yesterday, in Tampa, he told me he’ll push for a public option to be added to the Affordable Care Act if elected in November. He has to win tonight first, though.

And tonight we have the Pat FrankKevin Beckner campaign mercifully comes to an end. Despite criticism for running what has been dubbed by some as a negative campaign, Beckner says he has no regrets.

Victory seems assured for Debbie Wasserman Schultz in her bid for re-election against Tim Canova in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, but by what margin? Does she win by double digits, and if so, how much?

Stay tuned to this site later tonight, where we’ll have complete coverage throughout the state of the primary results.

Alan Grayson looms large in race to succeed him in U.S. House

Even though he’s not running for re-election, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson has very personal connections to the campaign in his Florida district.

His new wife is facing off against his former district director for the Democratic nomination in the 9th Congressional District at the end of the month, and they also face a state senator and a party activist.

Whoever wins the Democratic primary faces the winner of the Republican contest between the vice mayor of the city of Kissimmee and a businessman-engineer in the Democratic-leaning district. Incumbents seeking higher office and recent redistricting have prompted Florida’s most active congressional campaign in several seasons.

The district covers the southern half of the Orlando metro area and farming areas to the south and west. More than two-fifths of registered voters are Democrats, less than a third are Republicans and more than a quarter have no party affiliation.

Grayson isn’t running for re-election, instead seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. Grayson remains popular in the district with his shoot-from-the-hip brand of liberalism, though he has been mired in a messy separation from the mother of his children and was the subject of a House Ethics Committee probe.

For the most part, the Democratic candidates have very little ideological differences, though state Sen. Darren Soto is considered slightly more conservative.

Susannah Randolph had worked as Grayson’s district director in Orlando before deciding to run for the seat. She is half of a local political power couple – her husband, Scott, is a tax collector and former state lawmaker. Randolph has worked for progressive advocacy groups ACORN and Florida Watch Action, and is backed by several unions. She says raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is a priority.

“I’ve worked in a congressional office and know how government can work for people,” Randolph said at a recent candidates’ forum.

Grayson’s wife since May, Dr. Dena Minning Grayson, a biomedical researcher, has been using her husband’s surname and his image, including in a TV commercial in which he stands next to her at the end.

The redistricting increased the proportion of registered voters in the district who are Hispanic from about a quarter to almost a third, but Soto is the only Hispanic Democratic candidate. He says he’s hoping to be the first Puerto Rican candidate from Florida, which has become the top destination for Puerto Ricans leaving the island amid an economic crisis.

Since the Pulse nightclub shooting, Soto has championed state legislation to prohibit the sale of weapons, without a background check, to people who have been put on no-fly or watch lists. Soto and other lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to get the Florida Legislature to convene a special session on the matter.

The fourth Democratic candidate, lawyer and college instructor Valleri Crabtree, has been active in Democratic politics in Osceola County for the past decade, serving as chairwoman of the local Democratic Party executive committee.

On the Republican side, Wanda Rentas, who works for the South Florida Water Management District, is the first Latina commissioner for Kissimmee. She was raised in Puerto Rico and has sold herself as an everywoman who understands problems facing working families.

St. Cloud businessman Wayne Liebnitsky also is running for the GOP nomination.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Marco Rubio, Patrick Murphy look confident before Florida’s Senate primary

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy are campaigning as if Tuesday’s primary was already over and they won their parties’ nominations for U.S. Senate.

And it may be for good reason. Rubio’s main challenger, Carlos Beruff, appeared to throw in the towel, essentially shutting down the campaign he’d sunk $8 million of his own money into. And Murphy’s main challenger, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, has been damaged by ethics and domestic abuse allegations, leaving Murphy to focus on Rubio.

That leaves congressional races as some of the more exciting to watch during Tuesday’s primary, the first since court-mandated redistricting undid advantages for some incumbents and prompting one of the liveliest campaigns in many seasons. Congresswoman and former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is receiving an unexpectedly strong challenge from a Bernie Sanders-backed political novice.

Voters will also decide whether to amend the state constitution to allow a property tax break to promote solar power. And many of the state’s congressional primaries almost certainly assure the victor will be elected in November because of the political makeup of the district.

Republican primaries to replace retiring GOP Congressmen Jeff Miller, Ander Crenshaw, Curt Clawson and Richard Nugent will likely decide who is sent to Washington in November. The same goes for the Republican primary to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who is exploring a run for governor after her district was redrawn in a way that favors the GOP. Democratic primaries to replace Grayson and Murphy will also likely choose the next members of Congress in those districts.

Still, the Senate race is the main event, and one that took several twists along the way. Rubio wasn’t even supposed to be on the ballot, declaring he’d run for president instead of seeking a second term. Rubio dropped out of the presidential race when Donald Trump trounced him in Florida, but he still said he was done with the Senate. Then, two days before the deadline to get on the ballot, he changed his mind, chasing all Republicans but Beruff out of the race.

The Democratic primary pits former Republican and party establishment favorite Murphy against Grayson, a fiery liberal whose outspoken candor makes him unelectable in the minds of party leaders. Despite voting with Republicans far more often than Grayson, Murphy is backed by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Grayson has run a maverick campaign, condemning his party’s leaders and saying Murphy will be a puppet for leadership and special interests.

With comfortable leads in the polls, Rubio and Murphy took a similar strategy: Ignore the primary opposition. Both declined to debate their opponents, choosing instead to attack each other.

Rubio said he didn’t debate Beruff because there wasn’t enough time.

“He didn’t really seem that interested in debates not that long ago,” Rubio said in the days leading up to the primary. And when asked about the primary, Rubio turned the subject to Murphy, saying, “I take every race seriously. I’ll have more events today than Patrick Murphy will have all week.”

Rubio’s campaign has been issuing near-daily attacks on Murphy while virtually ignoring Grayson.

It was clear, though, that Beruff wanted a debate, particularly investing so much money trying to build his name recognition. He repeatedly criticized Rubio for not agree to an exchange, saying he should “man up” and calling him a coward.

Murphy called off the only debate schedule with Grayson after the mother of Grayson’s children said he abused her over the two decades they lived together, an accusation he has denied. Instead, Murphy focused nearly all is attention on Rubio. Murphy’s second ad of the campaign, released four weeks before the primary, attacks Rubio for missing votes while running for president.

During a phone interview, Murphy said Rubio is more concerned about his political ambition.

“He constantly says ‘I’m in this for Florida,’ but he’s clearly not running for Senate for Florida. He’s never been there for Florida; he’s never been there for a local issue; he’s never shown up for work. He’s in this for himself,” Murphy said.

It’s a similar message Grayson has made about Murphy, that there is no substance behind the candidate. Grayson repeatedly points out that Murphy was a Republican until he decided to run for Congress. He has voted with Republicans on bills that would have weakened Obama’s health care overhaul and he supported a committee to investigate Hillary Clinton’s handling of the attacks that killed four Americans at a compound in Benghazi, Libya.

“They’re desperately trying to take this empty suit and make him into a plausible candidate for U.S. Senator and they’re failing,” Grayson said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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