Carlos Lopez-Cantera Archives - Page 2 of 30 - Florida Politics

Todd Wilcox launches Restoring American Leadership super PAC

Todd Wilcox, the former combat veteran and CIA case officer who ran for nearly a year as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, announced Wednesday he is forming a Super PAC called “Restoring American Leadership.”

Wilcox will serve as chairman of this new committee.

We are at a crossroads in this country where we must decide whether we continue on the destructive path we have been on for eight years, or do we renew our commitment to American leadership,” said Wilcox. “I am fighting to do everything in my power to ensure we elect only those who will fight for the conservative principals of limited government, free market capitalism, strong national defense, and the liberty ensured by an originalist interpretation of our Constitution.”

Wilcox announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by Marco Rubio on the 4th of July in 2015. He declared at that time he was “fed up with the status quo and I’m fed up with career politicians who care more about re-election or the next higher office than they do about their neighbors. That’s why I am declaring my candidacy for the U.S. Senate.”

For months he was the only non-politician in the GOP field, which also included Congressmen David Jolly and Ron DeSantis, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Earlier this year, Manatee developer Carlos Beruff joined the party.

But the race changed dramatically when Rubio’s chances for president faded and he decided in June to re-enter the contest. Although resistant at first to dropping out, Wilcox ultimately did exactly that, leaving Beruff to get manhandled by Rubio in the August primary.

As FloridaPolitics.com reported last month, Wilcox, a millionaire, has been giving out campaign contributions to federal candidates running in the Sunshine State since dropping out of the Senate race. And as POLITICO’s Marc Caputo reported Wednesday, Wilcox is getting behind Brian Mast, a combat veteran running in Florida’s 18th Congressional District against Democrat Randy Perkins.

Wilcox alluded to a spat the two candidates had at a meeting in front of the TC Palm editorial board recently when he wrote in an ad published in the Post on Wednesday that, “As a Green Beret in the United States Army, I had the tremendous honor of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the bravest, hardest working Americans to ever step on a battlefield. Like most who saw your recent meltdown, I watched in total disgust as you questioned ‘why the sacrifices and the services’ Brian Mast provided for this country make him ‘capable of solving issues’ affecting seniors, children, single mothers, veterans, and families.”

Charlie Crist CD 13 campaign continues psychological warfare offensive

David Jolly easily handled Mark Bircher in the GOP primary contest in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Now, the Indian Shores Republican is turning his full attention to defeating Charlie Crist, which won’t be easy.

Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a special election in March 2014 by just 1.8 percentage points. That was when the district did not include more liberal enclaves of downtown and South St. Petersburg, making it much more favorable for a Democrat to win in 2016.

Trying to set the mood from the onset, Matthew Van Name, Crist’s campaign manager, issued a memo to the media on Wednesday laying out the reasons why his candidate is the man to beat on Nov. 8.

“On Day 1 of the General Election, Charlie Crist is leading Republican David Jolly in polling, fundraising, and grassroots support,” the memo begins.

Van Name goes on to compile information that is statistically accurate — that Crist won the newly configured district by 15 percentage points in the 2014 gubernatorial run against Rick Scott in a year where turnout was less for Democrats than is expected to be the case in a presidential election year. That 15-point margin is twice as better than how Crist did in the old CD 13. In the 2012 presidential election, Van Name notes how Barack Obama won the new district by ten percentage points — and says the breakdown of voters that year was 40 percent Democrats, 37 percent Republicans, and 23 percent non-party-affiliated or other third party groups.

Last fall, Jolly admitted that CD 13 was one that “no Republican can win.”

“We were leaning very strongly into staying in the House. I ran to be in the House,” he said while speaking to the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in Clearwater last October. “The truth is the Supreme Court later created a district that virtually every person in the political sphere will tell you, no Republican can win.”

Jolly made those comments while he was already well into his race for the U.S. Senate, a race that he dropped out of this past June when Marco Rubio decided that he would run for re-election to the seat. Three other Republicans running in that race — Ron DeSantis, Todd Wilcox and Carlos Lopez-Cantera — also dropped out, while the lone Republican who remained in the race, Carlos Beruff, was crushed by Rubio in Tuesday night’s Senate primary, losing by 54 percentage points.

Also in the memo, Van Name giddily recounts the chill existing between Jolly and the National Republican Congressional Campaign — a chill that exploded after NRCC officials strongly denied Jolly’s assertion on “60 Minutes” this past spring that he was told at a meeting shortly after being elected that he needed to raise $18,000 every day.

Officials with the NRCC so far have indicated they won’t be providing financial resources to aid him this fall.

“The NRCC was not included in his ‘deliberations’ and has not had any discussions with David about him running for re-election,” said Katie Martin, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, after Jolly announced he would run for the seat again in June. “We do not — and will not — comment about commitments for financial support or anything else.”

The NRCC issued its own memo Wednesday, where they praised Jolly as a “strong advocate … who has spent his entire career working on behalf of the people of Pinellas County.” Conversely, they lambasted Crist, saying, “Democrats are left with perennial candidate Charlie Crist who has been consistently rejected at the ballot box ever since he hightailed it out of Tallahassee when things got tough. Under Crist’s failed leadership as governor, Florida lost nearly 800,000 jobs and saw unemployment skyrocket 217 percent. That is a record Crist will have to answer for in the general election.”

However, Van Name is right to say that it’s questionable whether or not the NRCC will help out Jolly financially in his tight re-election campaign. There have been conflicting reports, but as of now, the NRCC has not said they will provide financial support.

“Most importantly, Jolly isn’t right for Pinellas County,” he writes. “First as a Washington lobbyist, and now as an out-of-touch Republican congressman, he is failing the middle class, women, and seniors.

“He has advocated for privatizing Social Security and Medicare, wants to overturn Roe v. Wade and defund Planned Parenthood, lobbied for offshore oil drilling, and voted against millions in VA funding increases that would help veterans get the care they need.”

Van Name also notes that a recent poll by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research showed Crist beating Jolly by a 50-38 percent margin.

The Jolly campaign released their own poll in June showing their man leading Crist by the same 50-38 percent margin.

On election night, Crist issued out a statement, saying that “it saddens me to think that anyone who supports Donald Trump’s agenda could ever represent Pinellas County.” However, Jolly has made a big deal about how “he’s not there yet” in regards to supporting Trump.

“Charlie lied to voters in his very first statement of the general campaign,” says Jolly spokesman Max Goodman. “And in the midst of an impending hurricane is engaged in gutter politics.”

“Charlie’s latest memo of misleading smears against Congressman Jolly is nothing more than the typical garbage and lies Florida has come to expect from an untrustworthy, disgraced former governor who once again is trailing in the polls and thinks the only thing he needs to recover his lost political legacy is a lot of money in the bank and Washington politicians in his pocket,” Goodman added in an email to FloridaPolitics. “As with Jolly’s last four election victories, the congressman knows the only thing that counts is having the people of Pinellas behind you. To that end, and unlike what Crist did during his 18 years in office, David Jolly will continue doing what he always does — his job.”

Carlos Beruff: Why I ran for the U.S. Senate

I’m going to say a few things in here that folks in the political arena know to be true, but that they refuse to say publicly.

Our country is miserably off track; this is something that all but the far left agree on. I personally came to the point where I felt a responsibility to try to do something about it, and I’ve been blessed enough in business to be able to take a shot at running for office.

Here’s the American situation – we have moved from a culture of independence to a culture of dependence. We have moved from capitalism into the direction of socialism. We have moved from being a beacon of strength internationally to a position of weakness. And we have moved from a strong financial base to an unprecedented level of debt beyond description or compare.

Of one thing I am certain – we are foolish if we think we will achieve change by sending the same crowd of people back to run our government again and again. This is the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.

I got into this race because the Senate seat was open and was underwhelmed by our potential choices to represent the Republican Party. In fact, prior to Marco Rubio going back on his word, our campaign had moved into first place in the Republican primary.

But sometimes life throws you a curveball. I made the miscalculation of taking Mr. Rubio at his word that he wouldn’t seek re-election if he lost the Presidential Primary. Even in March, he reiterated that he has told people “10,000” times that he is not running for re-election. I guess I was silly to believe the words of a Washington politician.

Once Mr. Rubio went back on his word, all the other candidates (being the politicians that they are) ran scurrying for the exits. David Jolly went back to running for Congress, Ron DeSantis went back to running for Congress, and Carlos Lopez-Cantera went back to doing whatever it is that he does, which is basically nothing except collect a check from the Florida taxpayers.

The directive out of Washington was for everyone to kiss the Senator’s ring and bow out of the race. We did not yield to the Washington political establishment, and even though we did not win, I make no apologies.

Herein lies the big problem in America today – the folks in Washington, in both parties, think they can give orders to us. It is supposed to be just the opposite. They are supposed to take orders from us. I do not take orders from Washington, and I suggest that no one else should either.

Critics will say it was a fool’s errand to stay in the Senate race. They will say we had no chance of beating Rubio, and they will say I wasted money. But of course, critics are most often those people who lack the courage and commitment to enter the arena.

I care deeply about the direction of our country. I wanted to go to Washington to say enough is enough and to fight for the American dream that has been so good to my family, and is clearly slipping through our fingers today with the mindless and naive liberalism of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

We came up short, but I make no apologies for fighting for what is right.

One last thing – I will vote for both Trump and Rubio in November. With all of his sins, and we all have them, Trump’s primary message is one of change, and of America embracing those values that made us the greatest country in the world.

With regard to young Mr. Rubio, in my judgment he made a life mistake. A man’s word is the most important thing he has. Mr. Rubio must live with that decision. Sadly, he could have learned a lot about America and about himself by leaving politics and spending some time in the real world. Nonetheless, he is the best of the remaining options.

We as a campaign, and I personally, am appreciative of the support of those who sought change for this country. I will never have the right words to show my sincere appreciation to all those friends who gave of their time and resources. Thank you for your efforts and most importantly, your votes of confidence.

___

Manatee homebuilder Carlos Beruff was defeated Tuesday evening by incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in the Florida Republican primary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Marco Rubio makes final swing through Florida ahead of primary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rick Scott says entire state needs to be involved in Zika prevention

Florida has done its part to slow the spread of Zika, but Gov. Rick Scott said it is time for the federal government to step up.

There are 36 cases of locally acquired Zika in Florida, all of which were believed to be transmitted in Miami-Dade County. The Department of Health believes active transmissions are only occurring in Wynwood, a trendy arts neighborhood, and in the Miami Beach area.

“We all have to be part of this. We have to get rid of standing water, wear bug repellent, wear protective clothing,” said Scott during a stop in Fort Myers on Monday morning. “If we do that, then we’re going to continue to do well. This state does a good job with mosquito control.”

But the state can’t do it alone, and Scott said federal lawmakers need to do their part to help Florida. Scott said the state has asked federal health officials to send more Zika prevention kits, which it hasn’t done. He also criticized Congress for taking a recess before passing a Zika funding bill.

“The federal government has not been a good partner,” he said.

President Barack Obama in February requested $1.9 billion in emergency funds to develop a vaccine and control the mosquitoes that carry the virus. The GOP-led House passed a $1.1 billion spending package, but the Senate Democrats blocked the bill.

Scott isn’t the only lawmaker calling for help from federal lawmakers. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine are expected to hold a press conference Monday to urge Congress to return from recess to deal with the outbreak.

The outbreak in Miami Beach comes as the state reported more than 57 million visitors came to Florida in the first six months of the year. Miami Beach is a popular tourist destination, with 48 percent of all visitors to the Miami area staying in Miami Beach in 2015.

Last week, Scott called on the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Department of Health to work with hotels and restaurants in Miami-Dade County on Zika prevention and education.

“We started preparing for Zika back in February, and we’ve kept everyone informed. We put out accurate information, timely information,” said Scott. “That’s why we’re going to continue to see outstanding tourism numbers in our state. People know we are prepared. We prepare for hurricanes, we prepare for storms, (and) we’ve prepared for Zika.”

Scott is scheduled to spend Monday afternoon in Miami. He’ll visit Jose de Diego Middle School in Miami, before hosting a Zika preparedness roundtable at De Hostos Senior Center in Miami. He’ll be joined at the roundtable by Commissioner Adam Putnam and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

__The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Florida GOP announcement about ‘Leadership Victory Committee’ never mentions Donald Trump

While Donald Trump may only now be getting serious about establishing a ground game in Florida, the Republican Party of Florida says they’ll be more than ready to get their voters to the polls this November.

On Thursday, the RPOF announced its Florida Leadership Victory Committee, which it says will work to ensure that Republicans up and down the ballot are successful. It will be co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Four Republicans each offered comments about the importance of getting the Republican vote out this fall, but noticeably none of them cared to mention Trump in their comments.

“It has always been our objective that Republicans up and down the ballot have success come November,” says party Chairman Blaise Ingoglia, who at least referenced the presidency.

“As a battleground state, the Republican Party of Florida is spending its time and resources supporting candidates that stand for conservative principles that will reverse the course of President Obama’s failed agenda. For the Sunshine State, this election is about keeping Hillary Clinton out of the Oval Office by delivering Florida’s 29 electoral votes to the Republican nominee and restoring prosperity to our country.”

Lopez-Cantera and Putnam referenced the importance of getting Marco Rubio re-elected to the U.S. Senate in November, but mentioned nothing about their presidential standard-bearer.

“With control of the Senate comes the direction of the disastrous Iran Deal, the filling of potentially multiple Supreme Court vacancies and the economic future of our country,” said Lopez-Cantera. “This committee will work to elect Republicans up and down the ballot because this is a crucial point in our nation’s history, and I am honored to serve as a co-chair alongside CFO Atwater and Commissioner Putnam. The Republican Party of Florida’s efforts will ensure we do not have to see Chuck Schumer as majority leader, because that would be unthinkable.

“Once again, it all comes down to Florida. Without a continued majority in the Senate and House, including Marco Rubio’s leadership, we put America’s future at risk,” said Putnam. We need to elect principled conservatives now more than ever, and that is why we must work for Republican victories up and down the ballot. These races are too important to take for granted, and Florida and America’s futures depend on it.”

“We must all work to maintain Republican majorities at the local, state and federal level, and the grassroots effort here in Florida will be crucial,” said Atwater. “Florida is a key battleground state, and the committee is devoted to providing the resources necessary for a strong victory in November.”

RPOF officials say this committee will provide necessary resources to implement what they boast will be the “strongest ground game in the country,” as well as take responsibility for voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Pat Neal will not be a candidate for Chief Financial Officer in 2018

Pat Neal, a Manatee County developer and former Florida state senator, will not run for Chief Financial Officer in 2018.

Facing a self-imposed deadline of July 1 to make a decision about a run, Neal told FloridaPolitics.com in an exclusive interview Wednesday he will not be on the ballot in two years.

“I have a wonderful business and a wonderful family, and I have concluded that I cannot continue to have both if I pursue elected office,” he said.

Neal was first elected to the Florida House in 1974, before being elected to the Florida Senate in 1978. He served until 1986, when he lost his re-election bid. During his time in the Florida Senate, he served as the chairman of the natural resources committee and helped spearhead several environmental protection measures.

Neal has often been mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Jeff Atwater as the state’s CFO. While Neal insisted he never thought of himself as a candidate, he said he did enjoy the exploratory phase.

But this wasn’t the first time Neal’s name has been floated as someone who might be at home in the CFO’s office. When Atwater was in the running to become Florida Atlantic University’s president in 2014, Neal was an often mentioned as being a possibility to replace him. The same happened when Atwater considered a U.S. Senate bid.

While it’s been decades since Neal served in the Florida Senate, he hasn’t completely bowed out of politics. State records show he has given $405,700 to candidates and committees in Florida during the 2016 election cycle. Records show the vast majority of that sum went to “Floridians for a Conservative Future,” a political committee in Florida.

His decision not to run means the race is wide open, with candidates on both sides of the aisle pondering whether to run for the seat.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has been mentioned as a possible CFO candidate, and Neal’s decision could make it a bit easier for him to jump in the race. The Miami Republican recently ended his U.S. Senate bid, but could be gearing up for another run at a statewide office in 2018.

Others who could be considering the office may include Sens. Tom Lee and Jeff Brandes. Much like Neal, Lee’s name was floated in 2014. Also under consideration back in 2014 were Sen. Don Gaetz, former House Speaker Will Weatherford and former state Rep. Seth McKeel.

 

Jac VerSteeg: How Marco Rubio might get Hillary Clinton elected

Marco Rubio says he decided to run for re-election because it will be imperative to have people like him in the U.S. Senate if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

“There’s [a] role for the Senate that could end up being its most important in the years to come: The Constitutional power to act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president.”

But it is worth asking: Does Rubio’s decision to run make it more likely Clinton will become president?

It’s easy to envision a scenario in which it does. Eagerness to drive a political stake through Rubio’s heart could increase Democratic turnout in Florida, throwing the most important swing state — and therefore the election — to Clinton.

Think about it. Democrats hardly would be whipped into a frenzy by a desire to defeat, say, Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Most voters probably still are fuzzy at best on who, exactly, Lopez-Cantera is. But Rubio? He’s become a high-profile target.

The wish to stick it to Rubio also plausibly would be a better election-day mobilizer than any positive feeling toward either Rep. Patrick Murphy or Rep. Alan Grayson, who are battling it out to be the Democratic senatorial nominee.

Rubio’s insinuation that the Orlando massacre influenced his decision to seek re-election only heightens Democratic anger toward him. Before, the biggest knock on Rubio was that he was a slacker who couldn’t be bothered to show up to work in the Senate. Damaging, yes, but not something to make Democrats get out and vote.

Now, though, Rubio is the hypocrite who steadfastly has opposed LGBT equality and commonsense gun control yet has the gall to imply he’s running in response to the assault-weapon massacre perpetrated at a gay night club?

How epically self-serving.

Rubio’s anti-LGBT record is exactly the kind of issue that could motivate young Democrats and independents who otherwise might have stayed home to make the effort to vote. As a group, they might not even have been that enamored of Clinton. But if they take the trouble to vote against Rubio in remembrance of Orlando, they might just vote for Clinton while they’re at it.

For Clinton to win in November, she’ll need a big turnout of Democrats in the Orlando area — precisely the area that ought to be most offended by Rubio’s decision to use the Pulse horror as his excuse to run. Democratic turnout in South Florida also is a key, and that’s also an LGBT-friendly venue.

Plus, Rubio’s flip-flop on immigration is a double-whammy in those two regions. Not only does it anger Hispanics who feel he stabbed them in the back by abandoning immigration reform, it angers those who remember that gay Hispanics were targeted in the Pulse attack.

Current polls show Rubio beating either Murphy or Grayson. But if Democrats exploit Rubio’s Pulse hypocrisy with skill, Rubio might just help them beat Trump.

___

Jac Wilder VerSteeg is a columnist for The South Florida Sun Sentinel and former deputy editorial page editor for The Palm Beach Post.

Mitch Perry Report for 6.23.16 — Another story on Patrick Murphy enhancing his resume

Forgive us for not being too coherent, having stayed up until the early morning hours today watching the Hillsborough County MPO’s discussion of the TBX project until 2:20 a.m.this morning. You can read our account here.

Although the huge news in Florida Politics yesterday morning was Marco Rubio‘s re-entry into a Senate race he said he would never get back into; you have to believe Rubio feels like he can handle his competition pretty handily.

The Democratic Party, both statewide and nationally, have gone whole hog with Patrick Murphy as being the man who can take the seat (forget the polls that show Alan Grayson to do virtually as well against every Republican, including Rubio).

What about Murphy today, after CBS Miami aired a very damaging report on Murphy’s claims about his role as a small-business man and as a CPA. Some of this had already been reported by the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald‘s Kristen Clark. But it’s damaging.

Check out Jim DeFede‘s story here.

In other news …

Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson — the two top Democratic Senate candidates who would lose to Rubio according to a new poll, predictably blasted the Republican for his flip-flop back into the race. Murphy later said on a conference call that the fact that Rubio won’t preclude staying in the Senate for the full six years to run for president again was “shocking” and “unacceptable.”

It’s hard to read Carlos Lopez-Cantera “thank” Rubio for getting into the race. It just is.

Moments after the news became official, conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham (a Ron DeSantis supporter), blasted Rubio, saying it’s exactly why people are cynical about politics.

Tampa Bay area Democratic Representative Kathy Castor was part of a group of dozens of Democrats holding a sit-in on the House floor, demanding that House Speaker Paul Ryan give them a vote on two different gun-control measures.

St. Petersburg-based trial attorney Augie Ribeiro will reportedly enter the SD 19 race.

Andrew Warren, running to beat Mark Ober for Hillsborough State Attorney, has unveiled a set of ethics reforms for the office.

Stanley Gray explains why he’s the best choice in the Hillsborough County School Board’s District 7 race.

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