Bernie Sanders Archives - Page 7 of 63 - Florida Politics

Bill Rufty: Diverse Florida electorate crucial in presidential election

RuftyIf you are a presidential candidate, you can’t come to Florida with a single, cookie-cutter campaign and speak to issues based on national surveys.

Florida is one of the most diverse and perhaps, with 29 electoral votes, the most crucial swing state in the presidential election, University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus told a large audience Thursday evening.

MacManus was the leadoff speaker for the new season of the Florida Lecture Series hosted by the Lawton M. Chiles Center for Florida History at Florida Southern College in Lakeland.

Distinguished professor of public administration and political science at USF, MacManus is considered one of the pre-eminent scholars and commentators on Florida and national politics.

Two major issues rise to the top among Florida voters, MacManus said: the economy and personal safety, and varies in concern among the state’s diverse electorate.

The economy is a great concern for the blue collar and middle class electorate. Of almost the same strength in polls is what MacManus lists as “personal safety,” which includes terrorism in the United States and safety from home-grown violence. Younger voters are more concerned with personal safety. College-age women, for example, are concerned with rape and assault, she said.

Florida’s role is pivotal in the national election, and its swing state status is very tight. In the last three elections — 2010, 2012 and 2014 — gubernatorial and presidential, the margin of victory for the winning party has been 1 percent or less she said.

Late Thursday, a new poll had Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump statistically tied at 47 percent of the electorate with the remaining 6 percent third party voters or undecided.

Because of the closeness, both parties must look at and attract the many layers of diversity in gender, ethnicity, and age.

“Twenty-four percent [of Florida voters] — one-fourth of the electorate — are neither Republican nor Democrat,” she said. And are most likely to be younger.

And although more women traditionally are registered and go to the polls more than men across the political spectrum, the difference is higher for Democrats.

“All I had to do to do was look at the fact that there are 18 percent more females than males among Democrats and know that Bernie Sanders would not win [the Florida Primary].”

There is an even larger group of Hispanic voters now than four years ago, she said, adding that they can’t be viewed as a solid bloc.

“Whenever I talk to people outside the state they all assume every Hispanic is Cuban. The greatest change in the voting population in the last four years has been the influx of Puerto Rican voters,” she said. “It is the second-highest Hispanic voting bloc to Cuban and growing mainly along the I-4 corridor.”

Pollsters from outside the state haven’t learned this yet and often don’t see the difference when conducting their surveys. MacManus said, alluding to the fact that traditionally, Cuban voters in the past have voted Republican while Puerto Ricans primarily vote for the Democratic candidates.

Florida is not only the home base for a diverse population of Hispanic communities, but black voters as well.

“There are Haitians, Jamaicans, and Dominicans mostly in South Florida and their interests are decidedly different from African-American voters,” she said.

“Why does this matter? With a state like Florida and a 1 percent difference [in the victory margin], every slice of demographic is important. You ignore demographics, and you have a potential to lose,” MacManus said.

That is particularly true of the demographics of age, she said. The Greatest Generation — those who remember World War II and Franklin Roosevelt — are 89 years old or over and are 2 percent of the electorate. The Silent Generation includes voters 71 to 88, making up 17 percent of the electorate. Baby Boomers, 52-70, account for 34 percent and are the children of the 1960s and ’70s, with a different cultural reference. They are followed by the Gen X group, aged 36-51, at 23 percent; and the Millennials, 18-35 — whose points of reference are Afghanistan, 9/11, and social media — making up 24 percent of Florida voters.

Millennials are likely to have strongly supported Sanders on the Democratic side and Marco Rubio on the Republican side.

“If you are older, you likely favor one party or the other,” MacManus said, “younger, you are likely NPA [no party affiliation].”

It is the younger generations of Gen Xers and Millennials, which currently make up 47 percent of the electorate in Florida, who will make the changes in future elections.

Asked about the future of the country by an audience member who said he was not optimistic about it, MacManus said she was very optimistic because of the younger generation.

“I frequently ask my students at the end of the semester how many feel they want to go into politics,” she said. “In the last four years, I have seen an increased number raising their hands. And it is not for president or senator. It is the local school board or the Legislature. I find that very encouraging.”

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton turn to battleground states in the South

With Labor Day behind them, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are pushing ahead in top presidential battlegrounds in the South.

Trump, the Republican nominee, is set to campaign in Virginia and North Carolina on Tuesday, two critical states in his path to the presidency. Clinton, the Democrat, is campaigning in Florida in search of an advantage in the nation’s largest swing state. A Clinton victory in Florida would make it virtually impossible for Trump to overcome her advantage in the race for 270 electoral votes.

The day before in swing state Ohio, Trump softened his stance on immigration while Clinton blasted Russia for suspected tampering in the U.S. electoral process.

In a rare news conference aboard her new campaign plane, Clinton said she is concerned about “credible reports about Russian government interference in our elections.”

“We are going to have to take those threats and attacks seriously,” Clinton told reporters traveling with her from Ohio to Illinois.

Clinton’s comments follow reports that the Russian government may have been involved in the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails just days before the party’s national convention. The emails, later revealed by WikiLeaks, showed some DNC officials favoring Clinton over her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders — who has since endorsed Clinton for president.

She said Russian President Vladimir Putin appears “quite satisfied with himself” and said Trump “has generally parroted what is a Putin-Kremlin line.”

Meanwhile, Trump extended a rare invitation to journalists to accompany him on his private plane from Cleveland to Youngstown, Ohio. The billionaire businessman appeared to shy away from his hard-line vow to block “amnesty” for immigrants in the country illegally.

Any immigrants who want full citizenship must return to their countries of origin and get in line, he told reporters — but he would not rule out a pathway to legal status for the millions living in the U.S. illegally, as he did in a long-awaited policy speech last week.

“We’re going to make that decision into the future,” Trump said.

Clinton powered through a coughing fit at a Labor Day festival at a Cleveland park, sharply criticizing Trump’s recent trip to Mexico as “an embarrassing international incident.” Unwilling to allow Trump to modify his immigration stances, she said his address later that night in Arizona amounted to a “doubling down on his absurd plan to send a deportation force to round up 16 million people.”

“He can try to fool voters into thinking somehow he’s not as harsh and inhumane as he seems, but it’s too late,” Clinton said.

The former secretary of state flatly said “No,” when asked in an ABC News interview whether she’d be willing to accept the Mexican president’s invitation to visit the country, as Trump did last week.

“I’m going to continue to focus on what we’re doing to create jobs here at home,” Clinton said.

Earlier in the day, Trump attacked Clinton’s energy level, noting she hasn’t followed his aggressive traveling schedule and questioning whether she had the stamina to help bring jobs back to America.

“She doesn’t have the energy to bring ’em back. You need energy, man,” Trump told reporters.

He added, “She didn’t have the energy to go to Louisiana. And she didn’t have the energy to go to Mexico.”

Clinton’s 25-minute question-and-answer session was her first extensive availability with reporters since early December. Beyond Russia, she answered questions about the ongoing controversy surrounding her use of a private email server while secretary of state, which Trump has used to cast doubt over her ability to protect classified information.

“I take classification seriously,” she said.

While Labor Day has traditionally been the kickoff to the fall campaign, both Clinton and Trump have been locked in an intense back-and-forth throughout the summer.

The start of full-fledged campaigning opens a pivotal month, culminating in the first presidential debate Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Polls show Trump trailing Clinton in a series of must-win battleground states, meaning the debates could be his best chance at reorienting the race.

Trump told reporters he does plan to take part in all three presidential debates, joking that only a “hurricane” or “natural disaster” would prevent him from attending.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Scarce targets curb Dem hopes for House gains, despite Donald Trump

In a taste of ads to come, House Democrats have run national TV spots in which actors recount Donald Trump‘s derogatory remarks about immigrants, women and veterans and one asks, “How can Republican members of Congress support that?”

The commercials, by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, underscore the party’s hopes for an Election Day bumper crop of new House seats, fueled by the GOP presidential candidate’s disparaging verbal assaults and poor showing in most polls.

Outnumbered by Republicans 247-188 – and with two vacancies in districts they’re certain to win – Democrats seem likely to bolster their ranks in November. Yet gaining the 30 seats needed to capture a House majority appears elusive.

DAUNTING FIGURES

Of the House’s 435 seats, only around 40 from California to Maine seem clearly up for grabs, though that could change.

Redistricting, along with Democrats’ tendency to be concentrated in urban and coastal areas, has given both parties’ incumbents such sturdy protection that on Election Day 2014, just 13 of 388 lawmakers seeking re-election lost. Of the 435 House members elected, 377 won by a decisive 10 percentage points or more or were unopposed.

Democrats would have to sweep 35 of the 40 competitive contests and lose only five for a 30-seat pickup, a significant challenge. In the 17 presidential election years since World War II, a party has gained 30 House seats just three times, most recently in 1980.

Democrats’ predictions have been tempered. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., who heads House Democrats’ campaign committee, says, “Democrats are on offense and we’ll pick up seats.”

OTHER HURDLES

Democrats failed to recruit strong candidates in districts where they might have competed.

The Democratic challenger against well-financed freshman Rep. Tom MacArthur in central New Jersey, Frederick LaVergne, has reported $600 cash on hand. The party has had problems fielding candidates in the Philadelphia suburbs, eastern Ohio, central Illinois and west of Detroit.

“They haven’t put seats in play they needed to put in play,” said Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, a top member of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Democrats want to pry Republicans out of suburban districts where TV advertising is often expensive, especially with a competitive presidential or Senate race in the state. A week of commercials can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in Denver; Orlando, Florida; and Las Vegas, and can be prohibitively expensive for House candidates in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

In addition, Democrats seem certain to lose a newly redrawn district in north Florida and face challenges keeping seats around Omaha, Nebraska; Sacramento and California’s central coast; and Florida’s Palm Beach.

GOP DANGER SIGNS

Republicans hold about three in four battleground House seats, leaving them more at risk. Nevada, Maine and Minnesota are places where the GOP faces tough defensive fights.

Thanks to strong off-year elections in 2010 and 2014, the GOP’s 247 seats are its high-water mark since Herbert Hoover’s presidency 86 years ago. The party holds districts in New York, New Hampshire and Iowa that it will struggle to retain this presidential election year, when Democratic turnout should increase.

While 26 House Republicans were elected in 2014 in districts that backed President Barack Obama in 2012, just five Democrats serve in districts carried by 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

That means more Republicans are at a disadvantage. Among them, Rep. Robert Dold is clinging to a Chicago-area district that gave Obama 58 percent of its vote, more than in any other Republican-held seat.

TRUMP FACTOR

Trump is unpopular among women, minorities and college-educated voters. This spells trouble for Republicans representing suburbs and districts with many Hispanic voters, and many candidates have criticized his remarks, though few have abandoned him outright.

Freshman GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo is fighting to survive in a South Florida district that is two-thirds Hispanic. He’s said he won’t support Trump and has run a Spanish-language radio ad in which former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says, “I know Carlos and I know he will continue representing us with integrity in Washington.”

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, whose suburban Denver district is one-fifth Hispanic, says of Trump in one spot, “Honestly, I don’t care for him much.”

Trump’s problems with crucial voters and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton‘s modest but distinct advantage in most polls have emboldened Democrats to hunt for additional GOP seats.

They’ve already spent against conservative Rep. Scott Garrett in New Jersey suburbs of New York City and have hopes of grabbing seats around Minneapolis, Orlando and central New York. They envision benefiting from diminished voter turnout by Republican moderates appalled at Trump and conservatives who distrust him.

“Our biggest concern is turnout,” but it’s also a problem for Democrats, said Mike Shields, top aide for the Congressional Leadership Fund and the American Action Network, which back House GOP candidates.

COUNTER-CURRENTS

Republicans argue that Clinton poses problems, too. Polls find much dislike for her, too, and Republicans are hoping for lower turnout by young liberals who preferred Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s Democratic presidential rival, and by blacks no longer drawn to vote by Obama.

Should Trump’s defeat appear inevitable, House Republicans could cast themselves as a brake on a Clinton administration. So far they’ve used that sparingly.

One GOP fundraising email signed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says, “I worry about what will happen if Hillary Clinton is elected president.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Debbie Wasserman Schultz handily defeats Tim Canova in CD 23

In one of the most closely watched congressional primaries in the nation, Debbie Wasserman Schultz defeated her Democratic challenger, law professor Tim Canova, 57 percent to 43 percent, to win another two-year term representing Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

Wasserman Schultz has held her suburban Fort Lauderdale-based seat since 2004 and had never been challenged in a primary election until Canova’s emergence this year.

“The result was so incredibly gratifying,” Wasserman Schultz said. “It really fills my heart to know the people I have represented said with this margin and this vote that ‘We know her and we have been able to count on her for all these years and we want her to keep fighting for us.’ They aren’t going to let millions of dollars from people outside the state decide who is going to represent our community in Washington.”

Tapping into the same anti-establishment fervor that catapulted Bernie Sanders to national prominence, Canova was able to raise an astonishing $2.8 million in his effort, receiving 200,000 individual contributions, what his campaign called a record amount in a congressional campaign.

A good deal of that support came from outside the district, from Democrats angered at Wasserman Schultz for what was perceived to be her bias in favor of Hillary Clinton during the presidential primary campaign, specifically in the DNC’s scheduling of the debates.

The low point for Wasserman Schultz during the campaign came last month when she resigned as the head of the Democratic National Committee the day before the Democratic convention, after leaked emails showed DNC staffers disparaging the Sanders campaign. The next morning, she was unceremoniously booed off the stage at the Florida delegation breakfast and had laid low the rest of the week in Philadelphia.

But while her reputation might have been wounded nationally, the sentiments inside CD 23 were quite different. And national Democratic leaders such as Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and John Lewis all traveled to Miami to campaign for her — while Sanders opted not to do the same for Canova.

“There’s no one tougher than Debbie Wasserman Schultz. No matter what is thrown her way, Debbie gets back up and keeps fighting,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant. “She’s been a lifelong champion of our party’s progressive values and I congratulate her on tonight’s victory. Florida Democrats are proud to stand with Debbie and we look forward to her continued work on behalf of the people of Florida’s 23rd Congressional district.”

Canova had produced one internal poll that showed him down by eight points. A South Florida Sun-Sentinel poll had her up by 10 points, 50 percent to 40 percent, while a poll produced by a super PAC working for Wasserman Schultz had her up by more than 30 percentage points.

“Losing sucks. But we came a long way in a short period of time,” tweeted Mike Nellis, Canova’s digital fundraising manager.

Wasserman Schultz will face Republican Joe Kaufman in November. He lost to Wasserman Schultz by a 63 to 37 percent margin in 2014 in the 2-to-1 Democratic district.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.

AFP-Florida bashes Patrick Murphy for supporting a public option in Obamacare

Americans for Prosperity Florida is blasting Democratic Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy, a day after he expressed support for adding a government public option to the Affordable Care Act.

“It is good to see Patrick Murphy leaving the privileged gates of his Palm Beach estate,” said AFP Florida state director, Chris Hudson. “Maybe while he’s out and about he should take a second to recognize that Obamacare has failed and that the results of President Obama’s “lie of the year” have included insurance companies dropping out of the embattled top-down program, requests being made to increase premiums as high as 43.6%, and the average American being saddled with $1,000 in medial debt.

Continued Hudson, “Patrick Murphy needs to stop pandering to special interests, and stop supporting policies like the public option that only exist to undermine the private sector until they go out of business! If this is the sort of lead-from-behind attitude Congressman Murphy is trying to sell, then Florida families shouldn’t buy it.”

While campaigning at the West Tampa Sandwich Shop on Monday, Murphy told voters that he believes that with more insurers now announcing that they will no longer carry patients who are on the Affordable Care Act, a public option is now needed to provide competition.

“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.”

The idea of the public option is to create a separate, government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers offering coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges. President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders included versions of the public option in their proposals when they first began working on health care reform in 2009. But they dropped the idea relatively quickly.

As Democrats were approving their platform that was officially ratified at their national convention in July, Hillary Clinton unveiled a health care plan that included a public option. Though she had supported such a proposal in the past, during her primary campaign against Bernie Sanders she opposed it, saying it would be too costly and run into interference from Republican governors.

If Murphy wins Tuesday’s primary election for the Democratic nomination for Senate, he will likely face Republican Marco Rubio in the fall. On Monday, a spokesman for Rubio blasted his comments about a public option.

“Patrick Murphy promised voters that Obamacare’s state exchanges would bring down costs and create more competition, but Floridians are finding themselves with fewer health care options and skyrocketing premiums they can’t afford,” said Michael Ahrens. “Only someone like Patrick Murphy who has consistently embellished the facts about himself could read the latest devastating headlines about the failure of Obamacare and declare it a success that should be expanded.”

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.

Tim Canova has now received more than 200,000 individual contributions to his campaign for CD 23

The Tim Canova for Congress campaign announced Thursday it has taken in more than 200,000 individual financial contributions, more than any congressional campaign in history.

Canova is running against former Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The winner in Tuesday’s primary will likely go on to represent the district in Washington since it is so Democratic-leaning.

Canova has now raised more than $3.5 million since he announced his candidacy in January, with an average individual donation of just $22. This month alone, the campaign says it has raised nearly $850,000 in online donations.

“It is humbling and gratifying to receive this kind of support from so many working people,” Canova said in a statement. “It means we are running the kind of campaign that is touching upon the issues that truly motivate and mobilize everyday Americans. My opponent relies upon the support of corporate interests; I owe my campaign to the people.” Added Canova, “What makes it even more rewarding, is that our campaign has received so many more donations in Florida than Wasserman Schultz.”

Canova’s reliance on so many small donations is reminiscent of the insurgent presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, who has endorsed Canova’s candidacy. However, he isn’t scheduled to campaign with Canova, despite the fact that he said he might do so back in July.

According to a Florida Atlantic University survey published in last Sunday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Wasserman Schultz leads Canova by 10 percentage points, 50 percent to 40 percent. Wasserman Schultz has served as representative for the district since 2004.

Canova also released another ad today, where he bashes Wasserman Schultz for not coming out against fracking. The name of the ad is, “Fracking Flip-Flop.”

 

 

 

Poll: Debbie Wasserman Schultz leads Tim Canova by 10 points in CD 23 race

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is ahead of Tim Canova by 10 points, according to a South Florida Sun Sentinel/Florida Atlantic University poll released Sunday.

The poll finds the Democrat incumbent leading Canova 50 percent to 40 percent.

The numbers come as early voting is underway in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, which encompasses Broward and Miami-Dade counties, where Wasserman Schultz is attempting to win a seventh term in office. In Canova, she’s had her most formidable challenger ever.

In an email fundraising request issued Sunday, Canova said he was halfway toward achieving the goal of raising $50,000 this weekend, “which will help provide us with the resources we need to counter the huge corporate donations and the obscene Super PAC spending from our opponent in this race.”

The Sun Sentinel/FAU poll showed Wasserman Schultz had a favorable/unfavorable rating of 58 percent to 35 percent. Just 7 percent said they had never heard of her.

Canova, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University making his first run for elected office, has a favorable/unfavorable ranking of 46 percent to 22 percent. Nearly a third of the electorate — 32 percent — said they were undecided or had never heard of Canova.

Sun-Sentinel reporter Anthony Mann writes that the polling appears to show the controversy surrounding Wasserman Schultz’ leadership at the Democratic National Committee over the past year has been “marginally negative” for her. Wasserman Schultz stepped down as head of the party on the eve of the Democratic National Convention last month after a series of embarrassing emails from DNC staffers revealed a bias against Bernie Sanders during the primary process.

The Sun Sentinel/FAU poll found 87 percent of Democratic voters in South Florida said they were aware of the release of DNC emails and 93 percent said they were aware of Wasserman Schultz’s resignation as party chairwoman. The poll also found 35 percent of Democratic likely voters said revelations that DNC staffers favored Clinton over Sanders made them less likely to vote for Wasserman Schultz.

Another 29 percent said the revelations made them more likely to vote for her and 36 percent said it made no difference.

There have been two previous polls published in the race. An internal poll released by the Canova campaign had him within eight percentage points.  A poll by a super PAC supporting Wasserman Schultz released last week had her up by 33 points.

The Sun-Sentinel survey was conducted by the Business and Economics Polling Initiative. They surveyed 400 likely Democratic voters in the 23rd Congressional District for the Sun Sentinel from Aug. 18-20. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 5 percent.

SD 19 candidates talk it out at Tampa Tiger Bay Forum

Although the candidates for Florida’s 19th Senate District have engaged in numerous campaign forums over the past couple of months, Friday’s encounter at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club did offer some new wrinkles.

One was the appearance of the lone Republican in the race, John Houman, who has carried such a light footprint to date in the campaign that Ed Narain joked that he didn’t know he actually existed. The other new element was watching Augie Ribeiro (twice) break into a not-so-terrible Bernie Sanders impression.

The Democratic primary — which will likely decide the winner in November in the decidedly liberal-voting district — also features two veteran Tampa Bay state lawmakers, former House District 59 Rep. Betty Reed, and current HD 70 Rep. Darryl Rouson.

The headlines in the race have lately featured a war of words between Narain, currently serving in the HD 61 seat, and Ribeiro, the high-powered, wealthy civil justice attorney who has poured approximately $400,000 of his own cash into the contest since entering on the second-to-last day of qualifying in late June. Ribeiro has defended those contributions by saying essentially he hasn’t taken the money from corporations that have business before the Legislature, a comment that rankled Narain, who works for AT&T.

“Just because you’ve received the contribution from somebody, it doesn’t mean they get to tell you how to vote or what to do,” Narain said, adding that the sources he’s received funding from are the same companies who give to most Democrats.

He then attempted to turn the tables on Riberio by saying that 60 percent of the more than 600 individual contributions he’s received in this campaign come from citizens in the district. “There are other candidates here who can’t say that, because they haven’t been doing the grassroots fundraising. They haven’t raised money from the ‘special interests ‘ in Tallahassee. I reject the idea that any of the candidates are bought and sold.”

Ribeiro didn’t back down.

“I think it’s very important that the folks know where money is coming from,” he said, adding that he doesn’t want to take money from the corporations that historically he’s gone after in court (like BP and General Motors).

He also said he didn’t want to explicitly say Narain or the other candidates who received funding the utility companies in Florida were “bought and paid for,” but he did say that the public should know Narain took over $34,000 from utility companies and more than $40,000 from insurance companies. “That’s important because those amounts are more than the salary of a state senator (which is less than $30,000 annually),” Ribeiro said. “And I think the people, especially people in a poorer district, who are struggling to survive, who are really cost conscious, and need to make sure that their representatives are fighting these very industries to keep costs down.”

Reed added her own thoughts about big money. “I’ve served in Tallahassee, and when you take money from too many people, they are going to be there waiting to be paid,” she said, generating applause.

Later in the forum, Ribeiro said that one reason he decided to get into the race was that he wasn’t hearing anybody say anything about the 15,000 children in Senate District 19 who go hungry every night. But Narain said that the number was actually 144,000.

Houman was spare in his responses, sometimes eliciting laughter at the succinctness of his comments. “That’s a simple answer — yes,” he said when asked if he would support a proposal to make the education commissioner an elected position as it was previously. When discussing whether there was too much testing in the public schools (something all the candidates agreed that there was), the Republican responded, “Simple question. I agree. Less testing and more teaching.”

The candidates — including Houman — all decried the prevalence of pro-gun legislation that is part of Florida culture.

“I am proud of my F rating from the NRA, unlike some of the other people up here who have been endorsed by them,” Narain said to applause from the audience. That was a not-so-subtle dig at Rouson, who was the recipient of a campaign mailer from the powerful organization urging SD 19 voters to support him in the race, though they officially did not call it an endorsement.

Rouson has boasted at other forums that his legislation passed earlier this year making it illegal to discharge a firearm for recreational purposes in residential neighborhoods was the first pro-gun control legislation in Tallahassee since the late 1980s. But before he got a chance to mention that Friday, Narain prompted him, saying, “No disrespect, representative, but the last gun control bill passed by the Florida Legislature was passed by a Miami Beach Gardens Democrat Barbara Watson in 2013 that restricted those with mental illnesses to be able to purchase a firearm.”

All of the candidates said they hoped Florida would echo the Justice Department’s announcement Thursday that they are phasing out privately owned prisons, citing safety concerns. Rouson says he is campaigning on a platform of prison reform, referring to the large number of unresolved deaths in state prisons. “We can’t just allow for-profit agencies come in and do what it is a core mission of government,” he said.

The St. Petersburg-based legislator also talked up his previous work for Driver’s License Reinstatement Day, in which various local agencies meet up with members of the public who have had their licenses suspended because of a failure to pay fines.

Betty Reed said it wasn’t easy to get legislation passed in the House as a member of the minority party, “but sometimes if you continue to work on it … sometimes it takes years before you can get it actually through, but if you keep working, you will get it there.”

All of the candidates have received important endorsements in the contest. Ribeiro said he was proud to get the backing of the group Tampa Bay for Bernie, which prompted him to (twice) begin doing a vocal impersonation of the Vermont senator.

SD 19 encompasses West Tampa, East Tampa, Riverview, Gibsonton, Apollo Beach, Sun City and downtown St. Petersburg and South St. Pete.

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