Alan Grayson Archives - Page 5 of 53 - Florida Politics

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.

Marco Rubio makes final swing through Florida ahead of primary

Marco Rubio looked to define his opponent Monday, telling Southwest Florida voters there will be a clear contrast come Election Day.

“The Democrats will have a primary tomorrow, and we’ll see who their choice is,” said Rubio during a stop at the Cape Coral Military Museum. “I can tell you who the Democratic choice is … it’s a congressman from Palm Beach named Patrick Murphy. If he is their nominee, I look forward to the choice voters have.”

Rubio made no mention of his own primary challenge during his remarks Monday morning. Instead he used the speech as a chance to highlight the differences between himself and Murphy, and encourage voters to get to the polls come November.

Rubio faces Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County homebuilder, in Tuesday’s Republican primary. He is largely expected to win the primary, and recent polls show Rubio leads Beruff by double digits.

“We’re very confident. Obviously we worked very hard and we feel good about tomorrow, and we’ll see what voters decide,” he told reporters. “But no matter what, we got to win in November — and that’s true across the ballot, so I thought today was a good day to kind of focus on November and what’s at stake.”

And what’s at stake, Rubio told the crowd, is the future of the country. The Miami Republican said Murphy has a “sense of entitlement.”

“The U.S. Senate seat doesn’t belong to the people who want to buy it, it belongs to the people of the state,” said Rubio. “I’m running for re-election, and I have to earn the right to continue to represent you. And that’s what I intend to do.”

The stop in Southwest Florida was the first of four campaign stops Monday. He was also scheduled to attend events in Bay County and Pensacola, before ending his day in Miami. He was joined by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who ended his own U.S. Senate bid when Rubio jumped into the race.

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican and a member of Rubio’s Southwest Florida grassroots leadership team, introduced Rubio, saying she was supporting him because “of who he is and where he came from.”

“He’ll tell you the story … about his father who is the bartender and his mother who was a maid. It really is that simple — when you come from nothing you know what it is to push, to work, to ask people to believe in you to achieve your own maximum potential,” she said. “He thinks of the least among us, to make sure … those that want to realize the American dream can do it here in an environment that wants them to be successful.”

Patrick Murphy says he’ll push for public option to be added to ACA if elected to the Senate

Patrick Murphy says if he is elected to the U.S. Senate in November, he’ll push to provide a public option to the Affordable Care Act.

“At least in rural areas, where you don’t have much competition,” the Jupiter representative and Senate Democratic hopeful said on while making a campaign stop on Monday morning in West Tampa. He said that would be an added option for people on the ACA, “and beyond that, to make sure that there is competition ultimately.”

Passed six years ago, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) still divides the country and the Congress. Most Republicans continue to call for repealing the entire measure, though they rarely have provided a viable alternative. Democrats have stood by it for the most part, but even some of the law’s biggest supporters say it needs an overhaul.

Earlier this month, health care giant Aetna announced it had lost more than $400 million on Obamacare policies since the insurance exchanges were set up in 2014, and was going to pull out of most of them, including in Florida. That followed similar announcements made by United Healthcare and Humana.

Which means fewer choices for those on the ACA. Lack of competition means higher premiums and/or lower benefits. A public option would be a federal option open to anyone on the individual market, and Murphy said he’d push for it if elected in November. Hillary Clinton has made similar comments on the campaign trail.

“The key is like any issue — it’s acknowledging that there are some things that are working, and that some things that need to be fixed,” Murphy said. “No legislation that is passed — or rarely I should say — is perfect, and you have to evolve with the times to see what’s actually working. Unfortunately, in Washington you have a group of people that basically want to shut down the government … they say throw the whole thing and start over, without offering solutions to it.”

Murphy was in the Tampa Bay area for the third straight Monday leading into Tuesday’s primary election, where he’s facing Congressman Alan Grayson and retired Navy JAG officer Pam Keith for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. However, Murphy never talks about his fellow Democrats on the campaign trail, instead looking ahead to a November matchup against incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.

Murphy appeared shortly before 9 a.m. at the West Tampa Sandwich Shop, a traditional stop for Democrats running for office to make an appearance at (Barack Obama was there in September of 2012). He was joined by state Rep. Janet Cruz, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco, and Hillsborough County Commission hopeful Pat Kemp, among others. Murphy spent time speaking to other “regular voters” who had assembled at the table, which gave him the opportunity to discuss his plans for immigration, health care and the economy. And diss Rubio.

“Climate change — I believe it’s happening, I believe it’s real, I believe we have to get off this addiction to fossil fuels; Sen. Marco Rubio denies it’s happening,” he said while speaking to reporters after spending more than half an hour sitting at a table and talking about some of the issues he’s running on.

“It’s like infrastructure. I believe we need to make the investments. He doesn’t believe in that. I want to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He does not want to do that. He wants to support Donald Trump, who wants to build a wall, and deport 11 million people the first day. Sen. Rubio has completely lost sight of his values and his morals, because he’s so worried about running for president again.”

“Patrick Murphy promised voters that Obamacare’s state exchanges would bring down costs and create more competition, but Floridians are finding that the exact opposite has happened,” said Rubio spokesman Michael Ahrens. “Obamacare has left them with fewer health care options and skyrocketing premiums they can’t afford, yet Patrick Murphy’s answer is to expand the program and make things worse for Florida’s families. Marco will keep fighting for a patient-centered alternative that improves choices for consumers, costs Floridians less, and helps everyone get the coverage they need.”

Following his West Tampa appearance, Murphy was scheduled to make campaign stops in Orlando and Miami. His campaign announced he will be spending election night in Palm Beach Gardens.


Mitch Perry Report for 8.29.16 — Colin Kaepernick says he can take the heat for speaking out

The National Football League concluded its third and most interesting weekend of pre-season games last night, and while there are stories galore about what’s happening on the gridiron (Denver sacking Mark SanchezTony Romo out for a few months with another injury, Jameis Winston looking quite impressive with the Tampa Bay Bucs against the lowly Cleveland Browns), the big story was out of Santa Clara, where 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem before their game against Green Bay on Friday night, the third time he’s done so this exhibition season, but the first time anybody noticed.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

He spoke with the media yesterday about why he did what he did, and he’s absolutely NOT backing down (you can read that entire transcript here).

Kaepernick is the first high-profile professional athlete in America who has refused to stand for the anthem since Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf did so in 1996 — an action which got him suspended by the NBA. The NFL has said they won’t do that.

Naturally, this has created a firestorm, with a lot of folks bashing the 28-year-old athlete, who surely knew that would be the case. One of the more interesting comments about this came from Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, 28, who, it’s been reported, has often spoken about race relations during his eight-year career. He said the national conversation would devolve around Kaepernick, and not the issues he wants to bring to the fore.

“It’s not going to be about the lives that have been lost across the country, the injustices that are being done to minorities all across this country; that’s what’s not going to be in the headlines. It’s going to be about him,” Jenkins said. “It’s a tough situation, but at the same time, if you’ve got something that you’re passionate about and that’s your way of expressing it, you’ve got all the right to do it. I’m a guy of conviction, I speak out on things I see. So I can’t really look at what he’s doing and tell him he’s wrong.”

It is going to be about him, and since he makes millions of dollars playing in the NFL, plenty of it that commentary will be along the lines that he should shut up and be grateful for getting the opportunity to play in the pros.

“I think there’s a lot of consequences that come along with this,” Kaepernick admitted yesterday. “There’s a lot of people that don’t want to have this conversation, they’re scared they might lose their job or they might not get the endorsements, they might not be treated the same way … At this point, I’ve been blessed to be able to get this far and have the privilege of being in the NFL and making the kind of money I make and enjoy luxuries like that … But I can’t look in the mirror and see other people dying in the street that should have the same opportunities that I’ve had and say, ‘You know what; I can live with myself.’ Because I can’t if I just watch.”

This takes guts, whether you’re with him or against him. Not being said at all was that he looked extremely rusty against the Packers, though it was his first game in nearly 300 days after battling injuries a year ago. People praised Muhammed Ali when he passed away for being an athlete who used his powerful platform to talk about social change — forgotten was how scorned he was by large segments of (white) America when he did so.

And note this — Kap has issues with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

“I mean, we have a presidential candidate who’s deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate,” he said of the former first lady and secretary of state. “That doesn’t make sense to me, because if that was any other person, you’d be in prison.”

In other news, a day before the primary election in Florida….

Win or lose, Augie Ribeiro has helped make a few political consultants wealthier in the last month, as the SD 19 candidate has now spent more than $672,000 in his quest to go the Florida state Senate.

Darryl Rouson and Alan Grayson made beautiful music together late last week in Tampa.

Clearwater state senator and incoming appropriations chairman Jack Latvala called out local Republicans for having “their head in the sand” when it came to stepping up on supporting mass transit in the Tampa Bay area.

The cantankerous Republican also said come hell or high water, he’ll be voting for Donald Trump in November, in part because of his feelings about Hillary Clinton following his viewing of the film, “13 Hours.”

Polling recap: U.S. Senate primaries are anything but close races

The primary is Tuesday, but if the polls are any indication, the U.S. Senate primaries may already be over.

Polls released this week showed Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republican Marco Rubio were blowing their opponents out of the water. Both are leading their opponents by double-digits, and both men appear to be focused primarily on their likely November showdown.

“This election is incredibly important. I’ll do my part. I’ll work harder than anyone in this race, and harder than I ever have before,” said Rubio during a swing through Southwest Florida earlier this week. “But if people don’t turn out and vote … it won’t count in November.”

Rubio has led in the polls since jumping into the race in June. He faces Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County homebuilder, in Tuesday’s Republican primary.

Associated Industries of Florida conducted one of the first polls after Rubio jumped into the race in June. The poll of 750 likely voters showed Rubio was leading the pack with 71 percent of the vote. That poll found Beruff was polling at 7 percent.

Beruff gained ground in the months that followed, but not much.

A Mason-Dixon Polling & Research poll released this week showed Rubio held a 39-point lead over Beruff. The poll of 400 likely Republican voters showed Rubio led Beruff, 61 percent to 22 percent.

Those numbers were similar to ones released Tuesday by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. The online poll, conducted from Aug. 14-18, found 68 percent of Republicans backed Rubio. The survey found 14 percent of Republicans polled picked Beruff.

“It doesn’t seem like Carlos Beruff will be able to surprise Marco Rubio the way Rubio overtook former Governor Charlie Crist in 2010,” said Frank Orlando, the director of Saint Leo University Polling Institute, in a statement. “Rubio is winning handily across all demographics.”

And a Florida Chamber Polling Institute survey found Rubio would beat Rubio 68 percent to 19 percent. Ten percent of Republican voters polled said they were undecided.

The race between Murphy and Alan Grayson doesn’t appear to be much closer.

The Mason-Dixon poll found Murphy led Grayson by 33 points. According to the poll, 55 percent of Democrats backed Murphy, while 22 percent said they were supporting Grayson.

Saint Leo University also looked at the Democratic race, and found Murphy had a 30-point lead over Grayson. Nearly 48 percent of respondents said they were backing Murphy, while 17 percent picked Grayson.

It’s a similar margin as what the Florida Chamber found in its survey. In that poll, Murphy was beating Grayson 40 to 11 percent. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they were still undecided.

The primary may be a breeze, but current polling shows the general election will be anything but. The polls show the general election will be a close race, with the Saint Leo University poll showing Rubio leads Murphy 46 percent to 38 percent. Nearly 16 percent of respondents said they were unsure.

In the Mason-Dixon poll, Rubio led Murphy by 3 points — 46 to 43 percent.

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