Alan Grayson Archives - Page 5 of 52 - Florida Politics

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.

Darryl Rouson and Alan Grayson team up in Tampa to say they both speak ‘truth to power’

Alan Grayson and Darryl Rouson teamed up Thursday night to try to win support in their respective campaigns while speaking in northwest Hillsborough County.

“I am honored to be here today to introduce a man who from Day 1 in Washington D.C. has taken the tea party agenda to the stage, and has whooped them every time he got a chance to do so,” Rouson said in introducing Grayson to a crowd of 20 people who gathered at the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Public Library in Westchase Thursday night. “He’s been the most vociferous and committed opponent of the conservative Republican agenda that has hurt working-class families.”

Rouson said that, like himself, Grayson had become a “top target of the right-wing and big money interests that are scared to death of what he represents: And what he represents is speaking truth to power.”

Rouson, who has served for the past eight years as a state representative, is attempting to win the state Senate District 19 seat based in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. He’s running in the Democratic primary against Ed Narain, Betty Reed, and Augie Ribeiro.

Grayson returned the compliment, saying, “What we desperately need now is people in public office who are unbought and unbiased. Who don’t owe anything to anybody but the people. And Darryl reflects that.”

The Orlando Congressman — trying desperately to pull out what at this stage would be considered an upset victory over Patrick Murphy in Tuesday’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary, went on to say “you won’t find a better champion for the environment anywhere in Tallahassee. You won’t find a better champion for women’s rights. You won’t find a better champion for what the middle class in America actually needs today. And you won’t find a better champion who is willing to speak truth to power. There’s an old saying that it’s necessary to speak truth to power even if it makes you quake inside. Well, it’s actually Republicans who quake inside when it’s Darryl saying those words.”

Grayson went on to boast about how he’s raised most of his campaign contributions from small donors, and that distinguishes him from the other members of Congress who beg for campaign contributions for hours every day.

“What we represent — Darryl and I — is an alternative paradigm to that; the idea is very simple. If you do good things for people, then they will show you their support.”

The two spent about an hour at the event before traveling to Pinellas County to attend the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee meeting.

 

Holly Fussell tussle affected Alan Grayson’s campaign

Political operative Holly Fussell‘s internet accusations — that Democratic congressional candidate Susannah Randolph had once ignored complaints of staff sexual harassment — has echoed into the campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alan Grayson.

Brook Hines said Thursday she resigned last week as U.S. Rep. Grayson’s U.S. Senate campaign deputy communications director because she was ethically too uncomfortable with the appearance raised when a former Grayson staffer and trusted associate, Fussell, published her assertions, which could harm Randolph’s campaign and help her opponent, Grayson’s wife Dena Grayson.

Both Randolph and Dena Grayson are among four Democrats battling in next Tuesday’s Democratic primary, vying to replace Rep. Grayson. A recent St. Pete Polls survey showed Dena Grayson with a slim lead on Randolph heading into Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Earlier this month Fussell, a former staffer to Grayson, published a Facebook post and then a blog item slamming Randolph, claiming she looked the other way for months in 2014 as Fussell complained to her about sexual harassment. In a follow-up post last week, Fussell alleged the man eventually raped her. The exchange was reported earlier Thursday on FloridaPolitics.com, based on comments Fussell sent detailing her assertions.

Through her staff, Randolph denied Fussell’s assertions, and Thursday issued a statement saying she was saddened by Fussell’s story of sexual assault and harassment, saying she first heard about it last week.

It also appeared, based on Randolph’s and Fussell’s employment histories, that Randolph was never a supervisor of Fussell or the man during the period Fussell alleged sexual harassment.

Hines said Thursday she was troubled the attacks on Randolph were coming from a woman who had, until late July, been Alan Grayson’s U.S. Senate campaign digital director.

“I resigned my position as deputy communications director of the Alan Grayson for Senate Campaign after the second posting by Ms. Fussell,” Hines wrote in a statement to FlordiaPolitics.com.

“I believe the campaign of allegations actions by Alan’s long-time digital director against Susannah Randolph, a candidate competing against his new wife in the District 9 Congressional race, carry an implicit taint of political motivation,” she continued. “And while I am not aware of the congressman explicitly encouraging Ms. Fussell in her accusations, I think it’s problematic for a candidate whose own campaign has been marred by accusations regarding his treatment of women to countenance these attacks from someone associated with his campaign against another woman who is also a political opponent of his wife.”

[Alan Grayson’s campaign was hurt in late July by reports that his ex-wife had accused him of domestic violence, reports he strongly denied. Similar, but differently dated reports had appeared two years ago during their divorce proceedings. He also strongly denied those at the time.]

Hines also told FloridaPolitics.com that she believes the man Fussell has accused of raping her — Fussell has not publicly identified the man — worked with Fussell for at least a couple of months this spring on Alan Grayson’s campaign. Yet Fussell targeted her public attacks only on Randolph for employing the man, but never wrote a critical word about Alan Grayson for also employing him.

Other sources also told FloridaPolitics.com the man who is the target of Fussell’s rape allegations worked for the Alan Grayson campaign this spring.

Hines said she is confident Alan Grayson had been aware of Fussell’s allegations for months before Fussell published her Facebook and blog posts this month.

Fussell, who communicated with FloridaPolitics.com Wednesday and earlier Thursday, did not respond to inquiries about Hines’ statements. In her earlier statements she insisted she sought the advice of no one other than her therapist before publishing her posts. She said she published when she was finally emotionally ready to talk about it, and that happened to be this month.

She also wrote, in answering questions, that she decided to come out with criticisms of what she saw as Randolph’s tolerance of the man, “when I saw that my rapist’s name was on Susannah’s campaign finance report.”

The man’s name apparently should also appear on Alan Grayson’s campaign finance reports. That is if, as Hines and other source said, he was fully employed in a high-level staff position on the campaign at least through much of the spring. Fussell would have already known that, because she, too, had a high-level staff position on the campaign throughout that period.

But Fussell, who works out of Washington, D.C., did not mention that in her posts criticizing Randolph.

[There appeared to be an oddity with Alan Grayson’s finance reports covering the spring, filed July 15. They do not list any expenditures — no pay to any staff members or payments to any contractors, not even payments for utility bills.]

The campaign of Dena Grayson said she never discussed Fussell’s allegations with her.

Alan Grayson’s campaign manager, Michael Ceraso, said the campaign and Grayson also did not consult with Fussell in advance of her posts.

“Never once did we try to coerce or do any sort of thing to encourage Holly to publish this on social media,” he said. “She did it all on her own.”

He also released a statement to FloridaPolitics.com calling for sensitivity to be paid to the victim of alleged rape and sexual harassment.

“The political feud between the Grayson and Randolph campaigns has reinforced the harsh reality that women are too often marginalized or even worse, victim-blamed for stepping forward after surviving sexual assault,” he stated. “Regardless of the facts or the timing, victims should be believed and protected when they share their experiences, without fear of reprisal. The Grayson campaign stands by this and all survivors of sexual assault who are brave enough to come forward.”

The fire-bombing of Susannah Randolph

Democrat Susannah Randolph’s campaign for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 9th Congressional District is spending much of its last week before the primary putting out fires from a political equivalent of a Molotov cocktail thrown her way — by a political operative going public with a troubling story involving Randolph.

Starting two weeks ago, Randolph, running as the true-blue progressive candidate with the lifelong reputation as a staunch feminist, has been the target in Facebook and blog posts authored by Holly Fussell, alleging that Randolph ignored complaints about sexual harassment of Fussell by a man on staff. And that man allegedly eventually raped Fussell, though Fussell wrote that Randolph bears no blame for that. Until now Fussell was offering slim detail.

On Wednesday Fussell, now 23 and living in Silver Spring, Maryland, responded to FloridaPolitics.com by answering a list of written questions. She still is not naming the alleged rapist, saying she’s declining to do so on the advice of her attorney. However she said she’s intending to file criminal charges or a civil lawsuit — or both — against the man, and he will be named then.

Until now, no one has looked into Fussell’s story, though it is echoing around the internet through other bloggers and social media, which are adding nothing new except judgments against Randolph.

The vague allegations left Randolph and her staff little to respond to, except to deny that anything like that ever happened.

After hearing the latest details offered by Fussell, they still are maintaining that nothing like that ever happened.

“Susannah is saddened to hear of Ms. Fussell’s story, which she learned about this past week. Sexual assault and harassment are very serious matters and Susannah believes they have no place in any workplace or environment,” said Lauren Doney, Randolph’s campaign manager. “Unfortunately, too many Floridians are victims of sexual assault and harassment, which is why Susannah has always been committed to being the strongest possible advocate for all who face assault and harassment not only at a policy level, but also in practice as a leader if elected.”

Randolph is not being accused of any crimes, nor even any clear dereliction of duty. It’s not even clear if she ever had any supervisory authority over Fussell or the man during the the alleged sexual harassment incidents.

At the story’s most innocent interpretation, Randolph is being accused of misinterpreting a young woman’s complaints, and not responding as the woman had hoped. Yet at its most serious interpretation, Randolph is being accused of being an enabler of a sexual offender who eventually raped, and a hypocrite of her professed feminist values, high sins in a Democratic primary.

The timing of the story’s emergence, a couple weeks before the election, could not be more impactful.

On Tuesday Randolph’s election fate will be determined, in her Democratic primary battle with Dr. Dena Grayson, state Sen. Darren Soto, and Valleri Crabtree. The race is tight. A new St. Pete Polls survey released Wednesday shows Grayson with a slight lead over Randolph, and Soto running third. The winner would be a strong favorite to win election in November.

Florida’s progressive Democrat community is fracturing over Fussell’s allegations, taking sides.

Grayson would be the most likely to benefit from any Randolph wound, because both are campaigning for the progressive wing vote.

Dena Grayson is married to the incumbent U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who is the former employer of Fussell, the alleged rapist, and Randolph.

Fussell’s relationship with the Graysons is long and strong and she has worked for Alan Grayson recently — there is dispute over how recently. However, she insisted she never consulted them about the incidents and decided entirely on her own to go public.

Dena Grayson’s campaign responded to an inquiry from FloridaPolitics.com with clear venom toward Randolph, and without a word about the rapist’s blame.

“Dr. Grayson was horrified when she recently learned that Ms. Fussell was repeatedly sexually harassed and then raped. She applauds Ms. Fussell’s courageous decision to step forward and speak the truth about her terrible treatment by Susannah Randolph and others,” said a statement from her spokesman Shawn Shahzad.

And Alan Grayson, now running for the U.S. Senate, might not be completely outside the shadow. Numerous former Grayson employees said Grayson always handled personnel matters himself.

Alan Grayson told FloridaPolitics.com Tuesday night that he was never made aware of Fussell’s sexual harassment complaints, and expressed confidence the incidents must have occurred outside his staff. That theory makes murkier an already unclear line of what might have happened when and where.

Fussell said she came forward this month because she was finally “emotionally ready to talk about it,” after receiving help from RAINN, the national Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

“I also knew I needed to come forward when I saw that my rapist’s name was on Susannah’s campaign finance report,” she said. “Like I said before, I do not want this to happen to another girl. I wasn’t warned. I want other girls to be warned.

“I talked to my therapist about going public, but nobody else,” she added. “I didn’t even tell my friends before I posted it.”

In her written responses to FloridaPolitics.com Wednesday, Fussell alleged she was sexually harassed repeatedly by the man while the two were working together on campaigns in Orlando, starting in the spring of 2014. She said Randolph personally witnessed the man sexually harass her in the Hammered Lamb and The Abbey, two favorite haunts of Orlando Democrats, including an incident on election night, Nov. 4, 2014, yet did nothing about. Randolph, she stated, then hired the man onto Alan Grayson’s congressional staff in Orlando.

In the spring of 2015 the man raped her, she alleged.

Fussell stated she has nothing in writing to back up her story, though she said there were other witnesses to the bar incidents, and she talked to close friends about the alleged rape after it happened.

At least in 2014, Fussell and the man worked together on Alan Grayson’s re-election campaign and did consulting work on the Orange County Charter Amendment C campaign, she explained.

It was unclear what, if any, supervisory authority Randolph might have held over Fussell or the man at the time of the incidents. In 2014 Randolph was Grayson’s congressional district director in Orlando. She did not work on Grayson’s campaign when Fussell and the man were there. She did not work for the consulting company that employed Fussell.

“I worked with Susannah Randolph on the Amendment C campaign,” Fussell wrote, “and did other work for her as well as a ‘tracker’ in my free time.”

Many people who know them both told FloridaPoltics.com they do not want to believe Fussell would make up such a story, but also believe Randolph to be incapable of looking the other way if a young woman alleged sexual harassment by a coworker. Randolph’s feminist values have always been at the core of who she is, they said, and she would surely have responded.

But, Fussell wrote of the Hammered Lamb and The Abbey incidents, “She told me repeatedly that it wasn’t a big deal, and said that he was drunk.”

Today Fussell works for the Revolution Messaging campaign consulting firm in Washington. That firm has worked on Alan Grayson’s U.S. Senate campaign this year, but not for any Central Florida campaigns, she said.

Florida Chamber poll: Marco Rubio, Patrick Murphy walloping opponents

Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy are poised to win their party’s nomination come Tuesday, but a new poll from the Florida Chamber Political Institute found Florida voters don’t know or don’t like many of the candidates on the ballot.

The statewide poll shows Rubio leads Manatee County Republican Carlos Beruff by nearly 50 percentage points. The poll shows Rubio is at 68 percent, while Beruff is at 19 percent. Ten percent of respondents said they were still undecided.

On the Democratic side, Murphy is beating Rep. Alan Grayson by nearly 30 percentage points. The survey showed Murphy is at 40 percent to Grayson’s 11 percent. There are more undecided voters on the Democratic side; 38 percent of respondents said they were still undecided.

Marian Johnson, the senior vice president of government and political relations at the Chamber, said it is unusual to see so many voters still undecided.

“A week sounds like a short time, but it can be a lifetime for a campaign and provide candidates the opportunity to make solid gains that can improve their outcome,” she said in a statement. “It’s unusual to see this many undecided voters this close to the election, but for candidates, it’s good news. They still have time to move the voters.”

They don’t have that much time. Nearly 1.2 million voters have already cast a ballot ahead of the Aug. 30 primary, according to the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

While Rubio and Murphy are poised to win their primaries, they both face some problems when it comes to how voters view them. The survey found 44 percent of voters polled said they had an unfavorable view of Rubio, while 41 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party.

The survey didn’t include favorability ratings for Murphy, but 46 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party; while 56 percent said they had an unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.

The Florida Chamber also looked at how Donald Trump is faring in Florida, and found 52 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of the Republican nominee. That could be problematic for down ticket races across the state.

“The data clearly shows that Donald Trump’s name recognition may impact Republican candidates down ballot — particularly in large metropolitan South Florida areas,” said Andrew Wiggins, the senior director of campaign and elections at the Florida Chamber. “And, digging deep into the numbers, Trump continues to trail Hillary Clinton in South Florida, trailing by 19 points in Miami-Dade and by 15 points in West Palm Beach.”

The survey also found Amendment 4, which deals with tax exemptions for businesses using solar, is poised to pass. The survey found 70 percent of respondents said they would vote for it; while 14 percent said they weren’t supporting it.

The Florida Chamber’s political poll was conducted from Aug. 17 through Aug. 22 by Cherry Communications. The Chamber surveyed 608 likely Florida voters, and has a margin of error of 4 percent.

Like Zika, other major unfinished business as Congress left for summer is TPP

Anyone paying attention to Florida politics right now knows Congress is on summer recess until Labor Day.

We know this because we are constantly being reminded by Democratic politicians that Congress broke for six weeks without passing a Zika funding bill.

While Zika is the current football being passed to and fro in our politics, it is worth noting Congress adjourned without passing another piece of legislation with big, long- and short-term consequences: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, known as TPP.

Last fall, Congress narrowly approved the trade promotion authority (TPA) needed for President Obama to negotiate TPP and bring it back before Congress for an up-or-down vote. TPA/TPP are the rare issues that are truly bipartisan; Democrats and Republicans were almost equally divided on the bills’ merits.

This division is on acute display among Florida members of Congress in tough elections. To wit, Rep. Patrick Murphy, generally considered the type of New Democrat amenable to a free-trade agreement. Murphy voted against TPA while facing a then-strong challenge from liberal wife beater, Alan Grayson. Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, in a tough re-election fight to hold the seat he took from Joe Garcia in 2014, was whipped by leadership to vote for TPA, but was a late decider and might well have voted “nay” had the Speaker not needed his vote.

Both are considered “swing” votes on the passage of TPP, whenever that vote ultimately occurs (at this point likely in the “lame duck” Congress, post elections).

Despite their equal and opposite votes and political pickles on TPA/TPP, Murphy and Curbelo forged bipartisan consensus on some of their shared concerns over the law’s passage. As FloridaPolitics.com previously reported, the two young members from South Florida jointly penned a July 10, 2015, letter to Ambassador Michael Froman, the U.S. trade representative, urging a fair resolution to a dispute between a Jacksonville-based company and an Australian bank, over an obscure Australian law.

APR Energy, in Jacksonville, leased tens of millions of dollars in power-generation equipment to an Australian utility that subsequently went bankrupt. Because of Australia’s ironically named “Personal Properties and Securities Act” (PPSA), APR’s equipment was summarily seized by the receiver, ANZ Bank and is currently being essentially leased back to APR after they posted a $60 million USD guarantee with the bank.

Murphy and Curbelo implored Froman to give his “full attention” to the “serious and valid concerns” expressed in their letter. In doing so they gave voice to reservations about TPP from both parties, forcing members to pose the question, “if an existing trading partner and ally, like Australia, can cause such undue harm to a U.S. business interest, what do we have to fear from less-established international actors who would be included in this new, broader trade pact?”

They sent their letter nearly a year ago, but its message is beginning to resonate.

Republican Rep. Alex Mooney of West Virginia seized on the issue in a speech on the House floor in late July. Mooney called the APR/ANZ dispute an “injustice” and the PPSA an “unfair and inequitable law … contrary to the basic right to own and possess private property guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.” He goes on to say that “laws like [PPSA] should make it very difficult for any member of Congress to vote for [TPP].”

Curbelo, for his part, weighed back in a day after Mooney, concurring with him that, “[PPSA] is contrary to the elemental right to own and conduct international business, as well as due process and equal treatment.” He reiterates his support for TPP as a potentially “powerful policy for America’s economy” but cautions the need to address “policies and practices [like PPSA] that give trade a bad name.”

As Congress enters week five (six? seven?) of its long, hot, summer break, Zika funding remains unpassed, as does TPP, and a Florida company continues to pay for the privilege of possessing its own private property. At some point, even Florida gets cool enough to kill off the mosquitoes of summer. Unanswered is, in the absence of a resolution between APR and ANZ, will the PPSA kill TPP or will TPP allow the PPSA to kill American jobs and investment?

Marco Rubio on Donald Trump: First a con man, now better than Hillary Clinton

A dangerous, erratic, con man with the worst spray tan ever. That’s how Sen. Marco Rubio described Donald Trump when they were both seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

Now that Trump is the nominee and Rubio is running for re-election, his tone is different. He’s no longer criticizing Trump, but he isn’t exactly gushing praise. Democrats are trying to make him look like a hypocrite for backing the man he previously said shouldn’t have access to nuclear weapon codes, and for jumping back into the Senate race after he said he wouldn’t.

“Sen. Rubio is actually the real con man here,” said U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson for the Democratic nomination. “He said something to the effect of, ‘Ten thousand times, I’m telling you I’m not going to run for the Senate again.’ Well guess what? He’s running for the Senate again.”

But don’t ask Rubio to reconcile supporting Trump with his past criticism.

“We’ve gone through that a million times,” Rubio said at a campaign stop at a Tallahassee restaurant. “At this point we’re just going to continue to focus on my race and leave the past in the past.”

Last month in Panama City, Rubio said he is supporting Trump because he pledged early in the campaign to support the Republican nominee.

“There are only two people in the world that are going to be president of the United States in 2017,” Rubio said. “It will either be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. And It can’t be Hillary Clinton.”

Leaving his remarks in the past isn’t something his opponents are willing to do. Republican developer Carlos Beruff often criticizes Rubio for not enthusiastically supporting Trump, and Murphy and Grayson are calling him out for his hypocrisy.

Grayson described the relationship between Trump and Rubio by quoting late New York Yankees manager Billy Martin, who once said of late team owner George Steinbrenner and star outfielder Reggie Jackson: “The two of them deserve each other. One’s a born liar and the other’s convicted.” (Steinbrenner had pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to President Richard Nixon‘s campaign.)

“That’s sort of how I feel about watching the love/hate fest between Marco Rubio and Donald Trump,” Grayson said.

Beruff, who has spent $8 million of his own money in the Republican primary, has repeatedly criticized Rubio for not doing more to support Trump.

“There are some people who don’t like the tepid response that Rubio has shown to Trump,” Beruff said. “There’s a loyalty there.”

Beruff’s effort doesn’t appear to be working: He’s far behind Rubio in the polls just a week away from the Aug. 30 primary.

Republicans say it’s a matter of forgiving and forgetting, despite Rubio making fun of Trump’s small hands, suggesting the billionaire wet his pants during a debate and mocking his Twitter misspellings at a campaign rally.

Wearing a “Make America Great Again” baseball cap to show support for Trump, Republican Bob Bezick, 64, of Madison said after attending Rubio’s Tallahassee event that he didn’t appreciate the back and forth between Rubio and Trump. But it won’t stop him from backing Rubio.

“It’s policies more than any of the chatter. All that stuff is just noise,” Bezick said.

And despite the not-so-cozy relationship between Rubio and Trump, Republicans say they won’t vote for Murphy or Grayson.

“That would be an extreme example of cutting off your nose to spite your face,” said Orange County Republican Party Chairman Lew Oliver.

If anything, Oliver said, keeping his distance from Trump could help Rubio with independent voters or Democrats dissatisfied with their party’s nominee.

“Tactically, that’s not a bad maneuver from his perspective because he’s probably going to get the Republican votes regardless,” Oliver said.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Mitch Perry Report for 8.19.16 — Herald makes surprise endorsement in Florida Senate primary

Donald Trump could earn a big PR move today. He’s scheduled to travel to Louisiana to visit the flood-ravaged areas. Meanwhile, President Obama enjoys the last days of his summer vacation, golfing with Larry David.

The Miami Herald is making a little news this morning. The paper’s editorial board is dismissing both Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson in their review of the Democratic U.S. Senate race, and is endorsing Pam Keith in the contest.

The paper acknowledges what has been evident for nearly a year now — that the Democratic Party decided a long time ago that Murphy was their man, the heck with what the voters might believe. “Stacking the deck against Rep. Grayson corrupts the process,” the editorial board says.

The paper also acknowledges the electoral realities for a Keith victory are, well, “slim to none.” But it makes a strong case for why she deserves serious consideration. The paper is also backing Marco Rubio in the GOP race.

Meanwhile, I was hoping for a little more illumination from Time magazine with their cover story out today, called, “How Trolls Are Ruining The Internet.” Nevertheless, it does attempt to try to understand why there’s so much hatred expressed by people on the internet and, surprise, some of these “trolls” are well-established professionals.

Speaking of the Senate race, Rubio is seizing on the U.S. State Department’s acknowledgment yesterday that its $400 million cash delivery to Iran earlier this year was contingent on the release of four American hostages.

“This administration has peddled one outright lie after another as it attempts to defend its disastrous nuclear deal with Iran,” the Florida senator said in a statement. His campaign also banged on Murphy for supporting the Iranian nuclear deal, something that you’ll see other Republicans use as a cudgel against Democrats leading up to November.

The nuclear deal has also become an issue in the South Florida Congressional race between Tim Canova and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who supported the deal. Though Canova has been running to DWS’s left on most policy issues, he’s been critical of her for supporting that deal.

In other news…

It’s not hyperbole at all to say that the Republican Party of Florida is one of the most effective political machines in the nation. So while there’s no doubt that although their “Leadership Victory Committee” announced yesterday they will do their best in this presidential year to get the vote out, it’s also noticeable about how none of the members of the committee bothered to express any comment about making sure Donald Trump wins the Sunshine State in November — which most political analysts say he has to do to win the White House.

A day after we reported on a mailer HD 60 candidate Jackie Toledo has issued vowing to crack down on “illegal aliens,” the Democrat in the race, David Singer, weighs in.

Patrick Murphy mocks Marco Rubio’s public support for Donald Trump in new web ad.

The Pinellas County Democratic Party pulled their request for a grant to beautify their party headquarters after the city council’s approval created an uproar.

Gwen Graham joined members of a super PAC affiliated with Planned Parenthood in calling for Congress to return back to Washington to pass a “clean” bill on Zika virus funding.

Hillsborough GOP Clerk of the Courts nominee Eric Seidel signed a “pledge” to run a clean campaign in the general election versus either Pat Frank or Kevin Beckner.

 

Pam Keith slams Congressional Black Caucus’ endorsement of Patrick Murphy for Senate

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) PAC is endorsing Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate, and Pam Keith isn’t impressed.

Murphy said he was proud to get the backing of the caucus Wednesday, saying, “In the Senate, I will fight for our progressive priorities, like fixing our broken criminal justice system, raising the minimum wage, and strengthening our middle class for hardworking families.

“All Floridians deserve the opportunity to succeed, and I will fight for our families every day in the U.S. Senate.”

It’s an important endorsement in a competitive Democratic primary race, where Murphy is running against Orlando area Congressman Alan Grayson and Pam Keith, a Miami-based lawyer and former naval officer who also happens to be African-American. She blasted the CBC’s endorsement of Murphy.

“The CBC is a PAC designed to help its members stay in office, not to help new candidates to get into Congress. Patrick Murphy, his PACs and his parents and family have donated liberally to current members of the CBC to obtain their support,” she said in a statement.

“Therefore, this endorsement has nothing to do with the candidate best suited to represent African-American voters or who has an actual platform of ideas to address issues facing the African-American community, and has everything to do with the candidate best suited to financially assist CBC members in their own races. In that regard, Patrick Murphy’s personal wealth definitely leads the pack.”

This is not the first time Keith has called out the CBC for supporting Murphy. Last fall, Keith claimed Murphy had “bought” the endorsements of Alcee Hastings and Frederica Wilson, two of Florida’s three black members of Congress. “By buying Hastings and Frederica’s endorsements, Murphy effectively blocked me from getting any access to the Congressional Black Caucus,” she told FloridaPolitics in October. 

Keith made that charge by claiming that both lawmakers only endorsed Murphy because they received financial contributions indirectly from the Jupiter representative, through either his political action committee or donations given by his parents, Thomas and Leslie Murphy.

Neither the CBC Black Caucus PAC, nor Hastings or Wilson ever responded to those claims last year.

The CBC PAC says it works to promote African-American participation in the political process, increase the number of African-Americans in Congress, and support candidates who champion issues that matter to the African-American community.

In today’s endorsement, CBC PAC Chairman Gregory Meeks from New York said the group is endorsing Murphy “because we know that he will be a great senator who shows up and works hard for Florida.

“I’ve worked with Patrick in the House and seen his passion on the issues that matter to Florida communities firsthand,” Meeks added. “Patrick is a leader who families can count on to fight for our progressive priorities. Floridians will be proud to call him their senator and the CBC PAC is proud to endorse his campaign.”

 

Latest poll of Florida: Hillary Clinton 48%, Donald Trump 39%; Marco Rubio 48%, Patrick Murphy 43%

Hillary Clinton holds a nine-point lead over Donald Trump in a Monmouth University Poll of Florida.

Per a release: The poll also finds incumbent Marco Rubio leading either of his two main Democratic challengers to retain his U.S. Senate seat, although by varying margins. Rubio’s endorsement of Trump could pose a few problems for him in November and his late decision to run for re-election is seen primarily as a move to boost his future presidential prospects.

Among Sunshine State voters likely to participate in November’s presidential election, 48 percent currently support Clinton and 39 percent back Trump. Another 6 percent intend to vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 1 percent support Green Party candidate Jill Stein, with 5 percent who are undecided.

Among self-identified Democrats, 92 percent support Clinton while 4 percent choose Trump and just 3 percent back a third-party candidate. Trump has less support among his own party base, with 79 percent of Republicans who back their nominee, compared to 12 percent who support Clinton and 5 percent who back another candidate. Clinton leads Trump among independents by 47 percent to 30 percent, with 11 percent supporting Johnson and 2 percent backing Stein.

Clinton has an overwhelming lead among Hispanic, black and Asian voters who make up about one-third of the electorate, garnering 69 percent of this group’s vote to 19 percent for Trump. Trump leads among white voters by 51 percent to 37 percent, but there is a significant gender split. Among white men, Trump has a 64 percent to 24 percent advantage. Among white women, Clinton leads 49 percent to 39 percent. There is no difference by educational attainment, with Trump ahead among white voters without a college degree (51 percent to 39 percent) as well as white college graduates (50 percent to 36 percent).

Clinton’s 50-point lead among non-white voters is similar to Barack Obama’s advantage over Mitt Romney with this group four years ago (49 points according to the 2012 Florida exit poll). Trump’s 14-point lead among white voters is smaller than Romney’s 24-point win with this group. This difference is due mainly to a widening gender gap. Trump is doing somewhat better than Romney did among white men (+40 points compared to +32), but much worse among white women (-10 points compared to +17).

“The gender split among white voters in Florida is huge. Men are drawn to Trump’s message while women are not. These offsetting factors give Clinton the edge,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Florida voters hold an equally negative view of both major party nominees. Just over 1-in-3 voters (36 percent) have a favorable opinion of Clinton while 50 percent hold an unfavorable view of her. Likewise, 33 percent have a favorable opinion of Trump while 54 percent hold an unfavorable view of him.

Clinton has a slight edge when it comes to who will better handle key issue areas. On the economy and jobs, 49 percent pick Clinton and 46 percent choose Trump. On handling the threat of terrorism on U.S. soil, 48 percent pick Clinton and 45 percent choose Trump.

Turning to the U.S. Senate race, Marco Rubio currently leads two Democratic members of Congress who are vying to challenge him, although by varying degrees of comfort. Rubio currently holds a small 48 percent to 43 percent edge over Patrick Murphy, with 3 percent saying they will support another candidate. The incumbent’s lead is larger over Alan Grayson at 50 percent to 39 percent, with 5 percent saying they will vote for another candidate.

More Florida voters approve (47 percent) than disapprove (39 percent) of the job Rubio has done in his term as U.S. senator. Also, 40 percent of Florida voters hold a favorable opinion of Rubio and 33 percent have an unfavorable view, with 27 percent expressing no opinion of him personally. Rubio’s Democratic opponents are not as well known. Murphy earns a 22 percent favorable and 10 percent unfavorable rating, with 68 percent having no opinion.

Grayson has a 14 percent favorable and 21 percent unfavorable rating, with 66 percent having no opinion.

Most voters say Rubio’s decision to run for re-election was more to improve his chances for a future presidential run (53 percent) rather than a desire to serve the public (25 percent). Rubio initially said he would not run for re-election but changed his mind after ending his presidential bid.

Rubio’s eventual endorsement of Trump surprised many observers after their heated exchanges during the primary campaign. Most Florida voters (63 percent), though, are actually unaware that Rubio gave his support to Trump and most say this endorsement will not affect their vote either for president (83 percent) or for senator (64 percent). Among the remainder, 11 percent say Rubio’s endorsement will make them less likely to vote for Trump and 5 percent say it makes them more likely. In the Senate race, though, 25 percent say the endorsement actually makes them less likely to vote for Rubio while just 9 percent say it makes them more likely.

“Rubio’s endorsement of Trump could come back to bite him if more voters actually learn about it. It remains to be seen whether the eventual Democratic nominee can turn this to his advantage in the general election campaign,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from August 12 to 15, 2016 with 402 Florida residents likely to vote in the November election. This sample has a margin of error of +4.9 percent.

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