Alan Grayson Archives - Page 7 of 52 - Florida Politics

Despite abuse claims, Alan Grayson staying in Florida Senate race

Democratic leaders want Rep. Alan Grayson to go away. His ex-wife says he’s abusive. Ethics questions dog him. Yet the liberal lawmaker is refusing to drop his bid for the U.S. Senate, potentially upending party hopes that moderate Rep. Patrick Murphy will emerge as the nominee against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Grayson is counting on the party’s most faithful to ignore the negative headlines and look at his record of being a champion of liberal values, as opposed to Murphy, a former Republican who has voted against President Obama on a number of key issues.

“He’s a nobody. Any kind of direct comparison between me and him, he loses,” Grayson said during a telephone interview this week. “There’s no way you can look at Patrick and think that he is anything but a sock puppet for lobbyists and special interests.”

Voting has already started in the Aug. 30 primary, which is being watched nationally as Democrats hope to regain control of the Senate.

As of Thursday morning, about 850,000 vote-by-mail ballots had been distributed to Democrats and about 63,000 votes had been cast. Nearly 21,000 have come from the Tampa Bay area, where Democrats are more moderate, which could help Murphy.

Murphy has his own challenges: He’s still largely unknown to most of Florida’s 4.7 million Democrats, and Republicans have spent $2.5 million on attack ads to define him before his own message gets out, accusing him of embellishing his resume by overstating his work as a certified public accountant and small business owner.

Murphy has a huge fundraising advantage over Grayson, and backing from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. But if turnout in the summertime primary is low and dominated by the party’s most liberal voters, Grayson could win.

As for Rubio’s primary test, polls put him far ahead of developer Carlos Beruff, who spent millions of his own money campaigning for what initially appeared to be an open seat. Rubio had said for months that he would not seek a second term, but after his presidential campaign failed, he changed his mind at the last minute.

Grayson is more consistent in voting with his party, but some Democrats worry he’s become unelectable.

“Grayson has stepped on his foot here a few times and I don’t think he has any way to get elected. Murphy has a better chance of winning,” said Joe Wells, 84, or Cape Coral. “He’s a little steadier and a little less bombastic and still favorable to my issues.”

Last week, the mother of Grayson’s five children shared four police reports with Politico. In them, Lolita Carson-Grayson told police that Grayson abused her, but none of the claims led to any charges over the years. Grayson countered that he never hit her, and accused her of abusing him and their children.

The couple’s 25-year marriage was annulled last year after it was discovered that she was already married when they wed.

“Voters actually can discern truth from fiction,” Grayson said. “They’ll see through it.”

Grayson has ignored Reid’s latest call for him to quit. Reid made the same request after the House Ethics Committee in April found “substantial reason to believe” Grayson violated federal law and House rules in a number of business and legal activities and in managing his congressional office. Part of that investigation involves an offshore hedge fund managed by Grayson.

The calls for Grayson to drop out have made an impression on Robert Valdez, 20, of Palm Beach Gardens.

“I don’t think he can bring the leadership that Patrick can bring,” Valdez said. “He’ll be a wonderful senator.”

But the terrible headlines haven’t scared off all of Grayson’s supporters.

“We need a long time progressive, someone who’s stood up for many, many years and not someone who jumped on a bandwagon to win an election,” said Tiffany Barnes, 34, of Wakulla County, just south of Tallahassee.

Barnes said she has worked with domestic abuse organizations, knows how women respond to abuse, and doubts Carson-Grayson’s claims.

“It looks more like a political stunt than a woman crying out for help,” she said.

LaVon Bracy, 67, of Orlando, said she used to live around the corner from Grayson and visited the house many times. She knows Carson-Grayson and their children, and said she doesn’t believe the abuse allegations.

“I know him personally, I’ve seen what he’s done for this area, he’s been a great advocate and he’s been a longtime Democrat,” Bracy said. “Murphy, he’s been a Republican most of his life.”

Grayson has aired television and radio ads since November, but in limited buys. Murphy began airing an ad two weeks ago featuring Obama, but hasn’t saturated the state. Both have sought free media coverage.

Murphy is campaigning as if he’s already won the nomination. He canceled the primary’s only scheduled debate, citing the abuse allegations, and has focused his attacks on Rubio.

“Marco Rubio, to me, encompasses everything that’s wrong with Washington, D.C.,” Murphy said. “Florida wants someone who’s going to show up, who’s going to work, who wants the job.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Poll: Marco Rubio has double-digit lead over Patrick Murphy

Marco Rubio is poised to win re-election, according to a new Suffolk University poll.

The survey showed Rubio is walloping Republican Carlos Beruff, with 62 percent of likely Republican voters saying they were leaning toward voting for Rubio in the primary. About 12 percent of respondents said they would vote for Beruff, while nearly 24 percent of voters polled said they were undecided.

The lead over Beruff is unsurprising. Since announcing his re-election bid in June, Rubio has been considered the front-runner in the Republican primary. He’s been racking up endorsements, and has the backing of establishment Republicans.

And when it comes to the general election, Rubio maintains that double-digit lead over both Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson.

According to the poll, 46 percent of respondents said they would pick Rubio in November, while 33 percent said they would vote for Murphy. About 19 percent of likely Florida voters polled said they were undecided.

In a match-up between Rubio and Grayson, Rubio would receive 45 percent of the vote, while Grayson would receive 31 percent. About 22 percent of likely voters said they were undecided.

The seat has become one of the most-watched Senate races in the country. Outside groups are prepared to spend millions of dollars on the race, and Republicans have said Florida is critical to keeping control of the Senate.

The survey of 500 likely voters was conducted Aug. 1 through Aug. 3. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

 

Mitch Perry Report for 8.4.16 — Patrick Murphy shuts down the debate

Well, so much for the free flow of ideas inside the Florida Democratic Party.

Patrick Murphy announced yesterday he would not engage in any debates with Alan Grayson or Pam Keith in advance of the Aug. 30 Senate primary election, citing allegations of domestic abuse charged by Grayson’s ex-wife last week.

“Over the last week, I have heard from many people, including survivors of domestic abuse, that Alan Grayson’s continued presence in this race is an insult to the countless Floridians whose lives have been affected by this kind of violence,” Murphy said in a statement.

“Alan Grayson has refused to address these issues,” he continued. “Alan Grayson’s words and actions have disqualified him from public service, and I cannot in good conscience give him a platform to promote himself and his campaign. As a result, I will not participate in any forums or debates with Alan Grayson.”

Shortly after that statement was released, Grayson DID address the issue extensively, as reported by the Miami Herald’s Amy Sherman.

Concurrently, some of Murphy’s supporters, like state Rep. Audrey Gibson and recently elected state Sen. Lauren Book, issued statements backing their candidate’s decision to bow out against Grayson because of the allegations.

Grayson’s campaign manager, Michael Ceraso, accused Murphy of exploiting “this very personal family struggle for his own political gain,” adding, “while Patrick has actually been caught lying about himself and what he’s done, Alan has discussed these and any other allegations openly with the press.”

It should be noted Murphy previously had refused to participate in debates proposed by Florida Public radio stations WMFE, WLRN and WUSF, as well as a combined effort by Bay News 9/News 13 in Orlando. He had finally agreed to do one — and only one — debate on WFTV-TV Channel 9 in Orlando.

In a statement, WFTV Executive Producer Anthony Colarossi said: “the voters of Florida are the big losers here as they will be deprived the chance to hear Mr. Murphy and Mr. Grayson share their vision of Florida’s future.”

Now I know that the entirety of Florida and D.C. is rooting for Murphy to be the nominee to take on Marco Rubio this fall, but wouldn’t it better for all involved to have the Jupiter representative get a little debate practice in, if nothing else, before he steps in the ring with Rubio in a few months?

It seems those hurt by this are undecided Florida Democratic electorate who would like to see and hear the two candidates debate the issues straight up. But that’s apparently not going to happen.

In other news …

Talk about an unwanted endorsement: In Florida’s liberal Senate District 19 race, the NRA is sending out mailers telling voters to support Darryl Rouson in that contest.

The Senate District 19 Democratic primary is getting more heated by the day, as Ed Narain and Augie Ribeiro exchanged their thoughts about each other.

St. Pete Polls released three big statewide surveys yesterday: One shows Patrick Murphy with a big edge over Alan Grayson in the Democratic Senate race — one of the few head-to-head surveys of the two main candidates this summer.

It also shows Democrats are pretty focused on the presidential and Senate races, if they’re paying attention at all, because when asked who they like for governor, 38 percent chose Charlie Crist.

Meanwhile, Amendment 4, the solar power amendment on this August’s primary ballot, is winning big.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman isn’t keen on the Public Transportation Commission raising the fees on Uber and Lyft drivers operating outside of the PTC’s jurisdiction.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasted a number of House Republican candidates for being silent on the whole Trump/Khan family controversy, but David Jolly did issue a statement over the weekend.

Patrick Murphy says he won’t participate in debates with Alan Grayson

Patrick Murphy will not participate in any forums or debates with Alan Grayson amid allegations of domestic violence.

The announcement came as Grayson and Democrat Pam Keith held a press conference at the Palm Beach County Courthouse to call for more debates in the U.S. Senate race.

“Over the last week, I have heard from many people, including survivors of domestic abuse, that Alan Grayson’s continued presence in this race is an insult to the countless Floridians whose lives have been affected by this kind of violence,” said the Treasure Coast Democrat said in a statement. “When a survivor of domestic abuse comes forward, we owe it to them to listen with an open heart.”

POLITICO reported last week that Grayson’s “ex-wife repeatedly went to the police with accusations of domestic abuse.” The accusations, POLITICO reported, were over a two-decade period. Grayson denied those allegations.

In the days following the POLITICO report, Grayson lost a few of his most prominent endorsers. According to the Tampa Bay Times, MoveOn.org, a nationally known progressive organization, is withholding an endorsement in the race in light of the allegations.

“Alan Grayson has refused to address these issues. Alan Grayson’s words have disqualified him from public service, and I cannot in good conscience give him a platform to promote himself and his campaign,” said Murphy. “As result, I will not participate in any forums or debates with Alan Grayson.”

Michael Ceraso, Grayson’s campaign manager, said Murphy was “exploiting this very personal family struggle for his own political gain.”

“Alan Grayson, like all of us, is a flawed individual. But he’s always been driven to help as many people as he can, especially the most vulnerable,” he said in a statement. “The media, in its attempt to cover his often-controversial style, hasn’t always been able to draw a complete picture of the man. Whether it is these allegations, or just his record of legislative accomplishment, the whole story isn’t being told.”

Ceraso said Grayson has discussed “these allegations and any other allegations openly with the press,” and would continue to do so for the rest of the campaign.

The two men were scheduled to participate in a debate Aug. 12. The debate, hosted by Channel 9 Eyewitness News, would have been the sole televised debate between the two men before the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

Murphy’s campaign did not agree to a debate hosted by WFME, a public radio station Central Florida. That decision prompted the press conference with Grayson and Keith, who were expected to call for more debates.

Ceraso said Keith was “unequivocal” about her willingness to debate Grayson alone or with Murphy.

“Perhaps Patrick Murphy has an issue debating with anyone in this primary, whether it’s Alan Grayson, or the only woman in the race,” he said.

Victims’ advocates were quick to support Murphy’s decision.

“With printed in black and white domestic abuse allegations against Alan Grayson, Patrick Murphy’s decision to pull the plug on a debate planned before this horrid news broke, is the right decision,” said state Sen. Audrey Gibson. “There should be no place on a platform designed to enlighten voters, for that which could potentially further victimize survivors of domestic abuse.”

Victims’ advocates were quick to support Murphy’s decision. In a statement Wednesday, Rep. Kristin Jacobs said the documented claims against Grayson “coupled with his recent statements — namely calling his longtime wife a ‘gold digger’ — disqualify him as a serious candidate.”

“Patrick Murphy’s decision to not give a platform that would legitimize Grayson’s candidacy was a good one and I support him in this,” said Jacobs, who escaped an abusive relationship after 10 years, in a statement. “Grayson’s repeated public statements amount to public bullying and in my opinion disqualify him from serving.”

Lauren Book, an activist who recently won her state Senate race, also said she supported Murphy’s decision, saying “domestic abuse and public bullying has no place in politics.”

“Rep. Grayson has repeatedly attempted to silence his ex-wife’s voice and has engaged in a public shaming campaign in his attempt to discredit her. While we do not know the specific facts behind her allegations during his lengthy marriage, we do know that Rep. Grayson’s attempts to publicly shame his ex-wife of 20 years are disgusting and outrageous,” said Book in a statement. “We need to stand unified against this kind of public bullying and unacceptable behavior from a sitting member of Congress. Grayson needs to end his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.”

New poll has Patrick Murphy up big over Alan Grayson, 45%-20%

Patrick Murphy has a substantial lead over Alan Grayson in the race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Florida, a new poll released on Wednesday shows.

The St. Pete Polls survey of 1,807 Democrats statewide shows Murphy with 45 percent, Grayson at 20 percent, and Pam Keith at 7 percent.

The survey also shows that 14 percent prefer another candidate, and another 14 percent are undecided.

The poll is the first to be released since the Grayson campaign was rocked by a POLITICO report about domestic-abuse claims by his ex-wife, which resulted in the exit of his political director and three field staffers. Two liberal groups, Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, also withdrew their endorsements of the Orlando-area Congressman.

Grayson has forcefully denied the allegations and has accused his ex-wife of fabricating the entire episode.

There hasn’t been much public polling on the Democratic Senate race at all this summer, with most surveys matching Murphy and/or Grayson up against the likely Republican nominee, incumbent Marco Rubio.

Murphy has also had a difficult time in the press this summer, with a Miami television report questioning his resume and business experience. But those issues seem to pale in comparison to the revelations about Grayson.

The poll robocalled 1,807 likely Democratic primary voters on Tuesday, August 2, 2016. It has a 2.3% margin of error at a 95% confidence level.

Some candidates have questioned St. Pete Polls surveys, because it does not include cell phones in its polls. The survey did poll only Democrats who voted in the 2012 and 2014 primary elections.

Patrick Murphy releases new ad blasting Marco Rubio’s Senate attendance record

Florida Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is blasting Marco Rubio in a new ad that hits at the GOP incumbent’s attendance record in the U.S. Senate.

Rubio’s record of missing votes became an issue while he was running for president earlier this year. And the Tampa Bay Times reported last month he also has a poor record of attending classified Intelligence Meetings as well, missing 20 of 23 such events.

The new ad attacks Rubio for missing a specific vote he boasted about in an ad for his campaign that was released on his behalf last week. The ad said that “Rubio wrote the toughest sanctions on Hezbollah ever passed.”

“Wait a minute,” the narrator interrupts. “Marco Rubio didn’t show up for that vote.”

The Murphy campaign then provides a link to The Congressional Record showing that Rubio did not participate in a vote on sanctioning the Middle Eastern terrorist group on Nov. 17, 2015.

“On the issues that matter to Florida, Marco Rubio has been consistently absent,” said Murphy Campaign Spokeswoman Galia Slayen. “When national security votes came before the Senate, Rubio missed them and when key foreign policy issues came before Senate committees, Rubio didn’t attend. Floridians deserve a senator who stands up every day for their safety and security. Marco Rubio is not that senator and it’s embarrassing that he is touting a bill that he didn’t even show up to vote for.”

Rubio is currently being challenged by Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff for the Republican nomination for Senate. Beruff has also attempted to bring down Rubio on the attendance issue, but hasn’t broken through yet in the polls.

Murphy is running against congressman Alan Grayson and Navy Officer JAG and labor attorney Pam Keith in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary contest.

In response, a spokesman for the Rubio campaign pooh-poohed Murphy’s ad.

“Patrick Murphy has never accomplished anything in his life, and now he’s lying about Marco’s strong record of fighting to keep America safe.” said Michael Ahrens, a Rubio campaign spokesman. “Marco’s work to put tough sanctions on Hezbollah was met with strong bipartisan support and passed unanimously. Actually getting results in Congress is something Patrick Murphy knows nothing about. Floridians can’t trust Patrick Murphy and they won’t fall for these false attacks.”

And Ahrens said that there wasn’t event a roll call vote in the Senate like the ad claims. “It passed by unanimous consent,” he writes in an e-mail.

 

GOP hits Patrick Murphy in Florida Senate race, and Barack Obama hits back

Republicans aren’t waiting until the primary to start attacking Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy in an effort to define him before he can define himself, a sign they believe the U.S. congressman will be the nominee and the tougher candidate to beat in November.

The race in Florida is being closely watched since it could it tilt the U.S. Senate back to Democrats. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio initially said he wasn’t going to run for a new term, but changed his mind at the last minute.

The GOP focus so far has largely targeted Murphy as someone who embellished his resume by highlighting his work as a certified public accountant and a small business owner who helped clean the Gulf oil spill. Murphy was only licensed as a CPA in Colorado, not Florida, and the small business he refers to was set up by his wealthy father and only had a minuscule role in the Gulf cleanup.

But Murphy has some big supporters helping him fight back. President Barack Obama has recorded radio and television ads for Murphy, one of which tells viewers to not believe the attacks.

Murphy’s campaign ran them at a perfect time — during the Democratic National Convention when the most devoted party faithful were glued to their televisions. Vice President Joe Biden also is planning his third Florida stop on behalf of Murphy this week and a PAC attached to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid also is plunking down $1 million in ads to boost Murphy.

“There’s millions of millions of dollars being spent against me by outside groups,” Murphy said. “They decided that they were going to attack me, and I’m sure from here on out, because they would probably love to run against Congressman (Alan) Grayson, but that doesn’t change who I am, that doesn’t change what I’m fighting for and what I want to do for Florida.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent $1.5 million and the Senate Leadership Fund PAC has spent $1 million on Murphy attack ads, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee has spent a much smaller amount on ads hitting Murphy in the Washington area. A PAC attached to Reid has spent $1 million defending him and the Murphy campaign spent about $1.7 million on ads featuring Obama, who told viewers not to believe the attacks against Murphy.

The Obama ad was a smart strategy, said Democratic pollster David Beattie, who isn’t working for either campaign.

“Obama is very popular with Democratic primary voters,” he said. “It’s saying, ‘Don’t believe the other things that you’re hearing’ and it’s delivered by a credible messenger.”

Still, Grayson’s campaign is grateful for the assist ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

The negative ads will hurt Murphy even though they may boost his name recognition, said Grayson campaign manager Mike Ceraso.

But Grayson, a Democrat from Orlando, has troubles of his own.

While he’s been popular with progressives, last week he was hit by allegations from the mother of his children that he abused her for two decades. Grayson denied the allegations, and said she is the one who hit him and their five children. Still, two progressive groups have rescinded their endorsements.

He’s also been dogged by ethics complaints over an offshore hedge fund he managed.

Republicans would rather face Grayson, a firebrand liberal, than Murphy, a moderate who has the backing of the party establishment and the resources that come with it. But considering how large Florida is — there are nearly 12.3 million registered voters — the GOP strategy is to try to knock Murphy down now before he gets a boost from a primary victory. He’s still largely unknown, and Republicans want to cast a negative light before voters pay more attention to him.

“Republicans are going to use every tool we have to make sure voters know Patrick Murphy is a fraud,” said Greg Blair, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Endorsement Watch: Conservative Leadership PAC, Florida Realtors, National Organization for Women in Florida, and others issue endorsements

There are just a few weeks until the election, and organizations across the state are rolling out endorsements for state and federal candidates.

Several organizations — including the Conservative Leadership PAC, the National Organization for Women in Florida, and Florida REALTORS PAC — issued endorsements.

The International Association of Firefighters and the Florida Professional Fire Fighters endorsed Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate.

“We know Patrick will continue to stand up for workers’ rights, fight to protect retirement benefits, and work to keep our firefighters and communities safe,” said Harold Schaitberger, the general president of the IAFF. “Florida’s professional firefighters can count on Patrick Murphy to fight for them in the U.S. Senate.”

Murphy faces Alan Grayson in the Aug. 30 primary.

“In the U.S. Senate, I will fight to make sure our firefighters and their families have the resources and protections that they need to succeed,” said Murphy. “Florida’s firefighters work hard every day to keep our state and our country safe, and they deserve a senator who will show up and work hard for them.”

The Conservative Leadership PAC has endorsed Mary Thomas in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District.

“At 38 years old and a young mom, young professional, first-generation American, and strong constitutional conservative, Mary Thomas represents a fresh new generation of conservative leaders for America,” said Morton Blackwell, the organization’s founder. “We … are excited to support Mary’s candidacy and are we are also very proud to announce that our youth directors are actively working on the ground in Mary’s district organizing young people to support Mary Thomas for Congress.”

The organization was founded in 1990 and is dedicated to training and deploying activists to help conservatives with the youth vote.

“Our campaign is about saving the American Dream for the next generation. No one has more a stake in this election than young voters. The very survival of America, our way of life, and the free market are in jeopardy if we don’t work to elect some fresh, new, true conservative voices,” said Thomas in a statement. “That is why I am so pleased and excited to have the support of the Conservative Leadership PAC. Our CLPAC youth field directors Ivy and Colby have been instrumental in our ability to mount a true grassroots ground game to get out our message to the Republican voters in the 19 counties of District 2.”

Thomas faces Neal Dunn and Ken Sukhia in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The Martin 9/12 Tea Party Committee has endorsed Rebecca Negron in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

“Rebecca has fought for educational issues while a member of the Martin County School Board,” the organization said in its endorsement. “Her work exposing the deficiencies of Common Core has earned her the endorsement of the statewide education advocacy group, Florida Parents Against Common Core.”

Negron, the wife of Senate President Designate Joe Negron, faces Carl Domino, Mark Freeman, Rick Kozell, Brian Mast, and Noelle Nikpour in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

Carly Fiorina has endorsed Francis Rooney in Florida’s 19th Congressional District.

The former Republican presidential hopeful and Hewlett-Packard CEO called Rooney a “true conservative who is committed to disrupting the political culture in Washington and fighting for the issues that matter most.”

“This is an important time in our nation’s history, and we need a leader like Francis who has the courage to stand up for conservative principles and combat the out-of-control spending of the current administration,” said Fiorina in a statement. “As a successful executive, Francis has the skills we need to help change the direction of this country.”

Rooney faces Dan Bongino and Chauncey Goss in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The Florida Right to Life P.A.C. has endorsed Lizbeth Benacquisto in Senate District 27.

In an endorsement letter, J.G. Halisky, the chair of the group, said the endorsement “indicates that you are the best pro-life candidate in the race.”

The endorsements and ratings are being published on the Florida Right to Life website, and have been sent to the organization’s chapters. The organization will also be recommending its supporters vote for Benacquisto.

Benacquisto faces Jason Maughan in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The Florida Realtors Political Advocacy Committee has endorsed Matt Hudson in Senate District 28.

“We need a Legislature that focuses on making Florida a fair regulatory and low-tax state that helps create and maintain a vibrant state economy and strong real estate market,” said Bill Furst, chair of the Florida Realtors PAC Trustees. “The goal of the Realtors PAC is to support candidates who promote policies that encourage homeownership and preserve the quality of life for our state.”

The political committee is the political arm of the Florida Realtors.

“As a licensed real estate broker, I’ve seen firsthand the important role that the real estate industry plays in our Southwest community and all of Florida, as Realtors help many in achieving their dream of homeownership, providing a roof to sleep under, and a place to share a meal with family and friends,” said Hudson in a statement. “It’s vital that we foster a healthy economy and in turn a thriving real estate market, which I am committed to doing, in order to grow and maintain an affordable and prosperous state.”

Hudson also received the endorsement of the Florida Professional Firefighters, and the North Collier Professional Firefighters and Paramedics last week.

Hudson faces Kathleen Passidomo in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has endorsed Wenda Lewis in House District 21.

“As Florida chief financial officer, I appreciate business owners and the perspectives and conservative principles that they bring to Tallahassee,” said Atwater. “I trust Wenda Lewis, her business experience and her judgment to do what is best for her community and all of Florida.”

Lewis faces Chuck Clemons and Tim Rogers in House District 21.

“I am honored and humbled to receive the endorsement of Florida’s CFO, and I look forward to working with him and others to reduce government overreach and reduce regulations stifling business throughout Florida,” said Lewis. “I am running for office to fight for small and family-owned business, and I am honored to be endorsed by one of Florida’s top business leaders.”

The National Women’s Political Caucus of Florida has endorsed Beth Tuura in House District 47.

“The National Women’s Political Caucus of Florida is proud to endorse Beth Tuura in her state House candidacy,” said Christina Disbrow, the organization’s endorsement chairwoman. “Tuura has been a longstanding advocate for women’s rights and the pro-choice movements. The caucus knows that Ms. Tuura will fight for all Floridians to have equality and fairness in all aspects of their lives, and we are committed to helping her in whatever ways we can.”

Turra will face Clinton Curtis and Henry Lim in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

“Now more than ever, women need more representation in government,” said Turra. “I will fight for reproductive justice and ensure that we advance women’s rights in Florida.”

The Florida Retail Federation has endorsed Lange Sykes in House District 54.

“Lange Sykes is a retailer eager to help Florida’s businesses by making it easier for them to achieve success by reducing the burdensome regulations that hinder growth,” said Randy Miller, the president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “Businesses throughout Florida, and specifically in the Treasure Coast, should support Lange’s run for House District 54, and FRF is proud to support his candidacy.”

Sykes faces Dale Glading, Erin Grall, and Greg MacKay in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed MaryLynn Magar in House District 82.

“The Fraternal Order of Police have endorsed MaryLynn Magar and feel that she continues to be the best choice of candidate to serve the citizens of House District 82,” the organization said in its announcement. “We believe that her dedication to serving the community will inspire others to lead Florida in the right direction, and we look forward to working with her in Tallahassee.”

The Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police has been representing law enforcement officers in Florida for over 60 years. It currently serves over 20,000 members.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police,” said Magar. “The strong sense of duty and courage displayed by law enforcement officers often goes unrecognized, both by private citizens and government officials. I look forward to working with the FOP on issues that will strengthen law enforcement and increase public safety.”

Magar faces Democrat Mary W. Higgins in the November general election.

The National Organization for Women in Florida has endorsed Paulette V. Armstead in Florida House District 92.

“NOW seeks to achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life,” said Armstead in an email to supporters. “Whether it comes to abortion rights, sexual trafficking, or promoting equal pay between genders, NOW and myself will work together to address and overcome these challenges.”

Armstead told supporters it is important to “consider how the results of this election can affect us.”

Armstead faces Patricia Hawkins-Williams, Sajan Kurian, and Whitney Rawls in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

Alan Grayson vows to stay in Senate race, calls ex an abuser

Florida Democrat Alan Grayson vowed to stay in the state’s Senate race despite calls from party leaders to stand down over abuse claims from his children’s mother, and he alleged she was the abuser who repeatedly hit him and their five children.

Grayson previously has made the same claims in court documents during a messy divorce and pointed to them as well as a video that shows Lolita Carson-Grayson throwing kitchen objects at one of their children. The video was recorded by that child and shown by Grayson’s campaign to The Associated Press.

The unpredictable liberal firebrand has defied Democratic leaders’ wishes by challenging their favored candidate, moderate Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, in the Aug. 30 Florida primary. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and No. 3 Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer have both called on Grayson to drop out after Politico detailed four police reports and medical records, filed by the mother of Grayson’s children, alleging he abused her. Two liberal groups have pulled their endorsements, and Grayson’s campaign confirmed Thursday that four staffers were quitting. But Grayson is refusing to back down.

“I’ve had so many people come up to me wherever I am that say they support me and believe in me,” Grayson said in the telephone interview, expressing his determination to stay in the race.

In the past, Grayson has been contemptuous of criticism from Reid and others, dismissing them as members of the “establishment.”

The latest twist with Grayson only adds to Democrats’ headaches in Florida, a crucial swing state that they had high hopes of winning when it looked like incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio was going to retire. Instead, following Rubio’s failed presidential bid, Senate GOP leaders lured him into announcing late last month that he would run for re-election.

Pointing to court documents filed in an effort to gain custody of his children, Grayson told the AP that Lolita Carson-Grayson once came at him with a knife, and he defended himself.

Those documents say Carson-Grayson engaged in “monstrous destructive behavior.” They accuse her of biting their then 14-year-old child and twisting another child’s fingers so badly that the child had to be taken to the hospital. They claim Carson-Grayson called police on her children and lied to authorities in attempts to have them arrested. It also claims she assaulted Grayson in front of the children, assaulted their grandmother and used a knife to slash the seats and ceiling liner of his car.

He said early in their marriage, Carson-Grayson set a neighbor’s car on fire. And on a cruise to celebrate his mother’s birthday she erupted during a formal dinner, cursed at his mother and shouted, “I wish you were dead. Die right now.”

A photo provided by the campaign shows another child with bite marks on his arm.

Lolita Grayson told Fairfax County, Virginia, police in 1994 and 1999 that the congressman had been hitting her for several years. In 2005, she made a similar claim to the Orange County Sheriff’s office, saying he had previously hit her “four or five times,” but she didn’t want to have him arrested.

Shortly after she filed for divorce in 2014, she told police the congressman shoved her into a door, but the investigation was quickly closed after police were given video, taken by a congressional staffer, that showed she struck him, but he didn’t hit her.

Attempts to reach Carson-Grayson by phone were unsuccessful. She didn’t reply to an email asking for more information. Her lawyer has not returned messages left with his office.

Grayson said his three oldest children, aged 15, 17 and 21, fled their mother to live with him. A petition to gain custody of his 11-year-old twins is still pending.

“The children have suffered terribly, and I do my best to show them all the love I can. I tell them I love them all the time and they tell me the same, so I must be doing something right,” Grayson said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorses Marco Rubio’s re-election

Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Chamber of Commerce political director Rob Engstrom are spending Thursday visiting chambers of commerce in Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville. And a message is being delivered.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce stands fully behind Rubio, and so do local affiliates, as he girds up for a general election campaign (likely against Patrick Murphy) that both Rubio and the Chamber see as a stark contrast between an avatar of free enterprise values on one side and a defender of government overreach on the other.

Engstrom has been at the helm during recent successes, including the 2014 campaign which saw a voter education effort that created decidedly pro-business majorities in both houses of the United States Congress.

In the race for the United States Senate, Engstrom sees the stakes as high, with the “free enterprise system under attack by nameless, faceless bureaucrats … a massive overregulation of business” that requires a “full-throated defense of the free enterprise system.”

Florida voters, said Engstrom, have “one of the clearest choices” between a Democratic nominee who has been a “consistent failure on economic issues.”

Murphy, said Engstrom, described himself as voting with Alan Grayson 90 percent of the time, with the “biggest difference” being “style.”

On issues like Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, energy policy, labor, and financial services, Engstrom said there was no tangible difference between Grayson and Murphy.

Engstrom took great pains to speak about Murphy as not trustworthy, saying “trust has been broken.”

However, Rubio represents a contrast, said Engstrom, citing Sen. Rubio’s “courage to govern” and willingness to “reach across the aisle when appropriate” as “someone sought out to build consensus.”

Daniel Davis of the Jacksonville Chamber pointed out Rubio has “always been a friend of Jacksonville small business,” and that the Chamber’s federal PAC was backing Rubio.

Then Rubio spoke up, making the free enterprise case, talking of “millions of Americans struggling,” desirous of “good jobs and the American dream.”

A dream, Rubio added, complicated by current policy.

“Many jobs are leaving because the corporate tax rate is among the highest in the industrial world,” Rubio said.

“Who pays the price for Obamacare? For Dodd-Frank? For radical policies? People trying to make it,” Rubio said, adding that this election offers a clear choice between him and “the radical policies” of his eventual Democratic opponent.

Grayson, said Rubio, is “someone who has been accused of domestic violence” who “I believe is insane.”

And Murphy, said Rubio, has a history of resume inflation.

Rubio pivoted back to the free enterprise message in describing his own personal history.

“My parents worked for a living in the service sector,” said Rubio. “They had jobs because someone hired them.”

Because of free enterprise and limited government, Rubio added, “they were able to own their own home and retire with dignity.”

For Rubio, the choice is binary: “the radical left” or “me to go back and fight for principles.”

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