Carlos Lopez-Cantera Archives - Page 7 of 30 - Florida Politics

Donald Trump urges Marco Rubio to re-enter race for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat

Donald Trump is pushing for Marco Rubio to re-enter the U.S. Senate seat he is scheduled to depart in January.

In a tweet sent Thursday evening, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee called on his former bitter rival to get back into the contest.

Trump’s statement is just the latest indication of how concerned Republicans are that they are increasingly concerned about the fate of the 2016 senate race, where no Republican has broken out of the pact despite months of campaigning.

Democrats (including President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid) have put all their chips behind Jupiter Representative Patrick Murphy in his primary against Orlando area Congressman Alan Grayson. But Murphy has been suffering from a surfeit of negative news coverage over the past few weeks, yet none of the Republicans appear as of yet to be poised to take advantage of his vulnerabilities.

Top GOP senators on Capitol Hill aren’t being very subtle in calling on Rubio to get back into the race.

“Marco Rubio is a very valuable member of the Senate … and earlier this afternoon, I strongly encouraged him to reconsider his decision and seek re-election,” Tennessee Senator Bob Corker said Thursday.

And CNN quoted Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker,  chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, as saying that the prospect of Rubio running for re-election is “certainly within the realm of possibility.”

“It is a very real development,” Wicker added.
Rubio again repeated on Thursday that it is “unlikely” that he’ll get back into the contest, which has led some to speculate that such a statement gives him some wiggle room to get back into the contest. But that would seem unlikely with his all but official endorsement of his friend and political ally, Florida Lieutenant Carlos Lopez-Cantera.
Rubio announced his candidacy for president 15 months ago in Miami. He said at that time that he would not run for reelection. That was different than Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who like Rubio was elected in the Tea Party surge of 2010. He has steadfastly maintained that he would not get back into the contest. Paul is running for reelection to maintain his seat this year.
In addition to Lopez-Cantera, the other GOP candidates include congressmen David Jolly and Ron DeSantis, former military veteran and defense contractor Todd Wilcox, and private developer Carlos Beruff.
The bitter fissure between the Rubio and Trump appears to be ending, as the party begins to embrace their new and unlikely standard bearer.
On Thursday, Rubio said in a CNN interview with Jake Tapper that, if asked, he would speak on Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention in July. “Certainly, yeah. I want to be helpful,” Rubio told Tapper.
Rubio  still has time – the deadline to enter the contest is June 24.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera campaign takes aim at Alan Grayson, Patrick Murphy over Zika vote

Carlos Lopez-Cantera’s campaign is slamming two Florida Democrats over their no votes on the Zika Vector Control Act.

In a memo Thursday, Courtney Alexander, a spokeswoman for the lieutenant governor’s U.S. Senate campaign, slammed Democrats Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy over their decision to vote against the proposal. Both congressmen are battling it out for their party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate.

“With over 500 cases of Zika confirmed in the United States, and over 100 of those cases here in Florida, the two congressmen seemingly forgot the people they represent,” she wrote.

“The Zika Vector Control Act eliminates the barriers that currently exist to fight Zika, to speed up the process of controlling and combating the virus,” she continued. “As Zika continues to spread, it is imperative to act now to stop the virus before it is too late. Considering over 200,000 babies are born each year in Florida, Zika is nothing to play politics with.”

On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Health announced four new cases of Zika in Florida. That brings the total number of cases in Florida to 158. That sum includes 36 cases involving pregnant women, regardless of symptoms.

The bill passed the House 258-156, largely along party lines. Several other Florida Democrats voted against the measure.

“This truth is that this bill does nothing to actually fight Zika. Instead, its sole focus is to gut the Clean Water Act, and this is just another overtly political attempt by Republicans to play games with a serious health issue,” said Galia Slayen, a spokeswoman for the Murphy campaign. “Patrick has been at the forefront of the Zika fight, working to allocate more resources to ensure that we are protecting Floridians from the spread of this virus.”

Lopez-Cantera is one of five Republicans vying for their party’s nomination to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. He faces Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox.

The U.S. Senate primary is Aug. 30.

VA admits to David Jolly they’ve mistakenly labeled over 4,200 people dead in last 5 years

In an embarrassing admission, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is acknowledging in a letter to Pinellas County Congressman David Jolly that it falsely declared 4,201 people dead between 2011 and 2015, disrupting the distribution of benefits to those veterans and their dependents. Last year alone, the VA says it erroneously terminated benefits to 1,025 individuals.

“These numbers confirm our suspicion, that mistaken deaths by the VA have been a widespread problem impacting thousands of veterans across the country,” Jolly said in a statement. “It’s a problem that should have been addressed years ago, as it has caused needless hardships for thousands of people who had their benefits terminated and their world turned upside down.”

The issue of wrongful declaration of deceased veterans had emerged from the original scandal that rocked Veterans Affairs two years ago, when it was revealed that more than three dozen VA hospital patients in Phoenix died while awaiting medical care.

“Although we are able to identify cases where benefits were terminated based on an erroneous notice of a beneficiary’s death and subsequently reinstated, our computer systems do not collect information on the cause of the errors,” wrote Danny Pummell, the acting undersecretary of Veterans Affairs for benefits.

Jolly says he’ll ask for another annual survey for 2016.

“If the VA’s new policy is indeed working, this problem should be eliminated. If the problem persists, then Congress will demand further action. We simply cannot have men and women who have sacrificed for this country see their rightful benefits wrongfully terminated because the VA mistakenly declares them dead. This creates tremendous financial hardships and undue personal turmoil for veterans, many who are seniors relying primarily, if not solely, on their VA benefits,” Jolly added.

This information comes as the VA is contending with their latest crisis, the firestorm of criticism that has rained down on Secretary Robert McDonald over the past 48 hours after he downplayed veteran wait times at VA hospitals by comparing them to wait times for rides at Disney theme parks.

That criticism has led to some Republicans to call on President Obama to fire McDonald, including from Florida U.S. Senate candidates (and Jolly’s opponents) Carlos Beruff and Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Republican Senate hopefuls call on Barack Obama to fire VA Secretary

Two Republican Senate hopefuls are calling on President Barack Obama to fire the head of Veterans Affairs.

On Monday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said the VA shouldn’t use wait times as a measure of success, comparing the wait times for health care to the house people wait for rides at Disney theme parks. McDonald said a veterans’ health-care experience was more important than the time spent waiting for an appointment.

His comments immediately came under fire, with House Speaker Paul Ryan calling the comments “disgusting and beyond the pale.” Ryan, according to the Associated Press, stopped short of calling for him to step down.

On Tuesday, Republicans Carlos Beruff and Carlos Lopez-Cantera called on the president to fire McDonald. In a statement, Beruff said McDonald’s comments “are proof he’s not the right man to get the VA back on track.”

“VA Secretary McDonald’s comments demonstrate ignorance and are proof he’s not the right man to get the VA back on track. In the real world, if things aren’t going well, new leadership is brought in to chart a new course,” said Beruff in a statement. “But in government, we often have a complete lack of accountability. It is long past time for accountability at the VA. Our veterans deserve leaders in Washington who will eliminate the bureaucratic inefficiencies and waste. President Obama should fire McDonald today.”

Lopez-Cantera said McDonald has “”grossly failed to hold himself or his agency accountable to our nation’s heroes.”

“With continued reports of manipulated wait times at the VA, Secretary Robert McDonald’s comments were not only uncalled for, they were indicative of an appallingly dismissive culture within the highest levels of the VA,” said Lopez-Cantera in a statement. “Waiting for care at the VA is certainly not the same thing as waiting in line at Disney, and the Secretary should be ashamed of his nonchalance. Veterans have died waiting for care, yet Mr. McDonald and the rest of his leadership team have failed to take care of those who cared enough to risk their lives to protect our freedoms.”

Beruff and Lopez-Cantera are among the five Republicans running to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. They’ll face Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, and Todd Wilcox in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Carlos Lopez-Cantera slams David Jolly on not holding the VA accountable

On Tuesday, the Carlos Lopez-Cantera Republican campaign for Senate slammed primary opponent David Jolly for “refusing to hold the VA (Veterans Administration) accountable.”

At issue, claims Lopez-Cantera’s press secretary Courtney Alexander, is Jolly’s vote “against an amendment to H.R. 2029 which would have prevented taxpayers from paying union workers for time spent conducting union business instead of doing official work for the VA.”

In doing so, Alexander contends, Jolly “made the decision to cave to union interests instead of holding the VA accountable.”

“It seems like Jolly is on the side of the no-show union workers and VA bureaucrats — the same bureaucrats who just yesterday compared wait times for veterans to waiting in line at Disney,” Alexander continues.

Alexander has more to say about the matter:

With reports of continued wait time manipulation, systemic mismanagement and poor care; it is commonsense that if taxpayers are footing the bill, VA employees should be focusing their time on the job at hand: serving our nation’s heroes.

The bureaucracy at the VA is the core of what is wrong with the flawed system, yet Jolly continues to protect government bureaucrats.

Jolly has remained consistent as a Washington insider who excels at saying one thing yet doing another, preaching about the failure of greatness in leadership in government on the stump, then changing his tune when he thinks no one is looking. Time and time again, Jolly continues to choose the path of least resistance by supporting government unions and Washington’s broken system.

Jolly’s spox, Max Goodman, offered a pithy response.

“Leave it to Carlos to oppose the efforts of David Jolly, John McCain and Donald Trump to give every veteran the freedom to choose where they receive their medical care.”

Then Alexander fired back.

“Are we living in reality? The vote on that amendment had nothing to do with care Choice, which every Veteran should have access to, but by choosing to vote no David Jolly aligned himself with big unions and government bureaucrats. Voters are tired of the antics of DC politicians; saying one thing, then doing another.”

Mitch Perry Report for 5.24.16 — Hillary nixes a last Dem debate in California

Last night in Santa Monica, Bernie Sanders called Hillary Clinton‘s decision not to debate him in California “insulting” to the voters in the Golden State.

“A number of months ago our campaign and her campaign reached an agreement on a number of debates, including one here in California,” Sanders told the crowd, according to a release issued by the Sanders campaign overnight. He added that it was “insulting to the people of California — our largest state — that she is not prepared to have a discussion with me about how we address the major crises we face.”

Both Democratic candidates are in California today and will be there a lot this week, some two weeks before registered voters go to the polls on June 7, with some 475 pledged delegates at stake.

It’s a fact that in February, both candidates agreed to add four more debates to the primary calendar, including one in May. So far they have had three of those four debates, the last one in New York on CNN before that state’s April primary.

Adding an interesting twist to all of this is that the debate would have been broadcast on Fox News, which hasn’t hosted a Democratic debate since 2004. There were discussions to do so in 2008, but at that point, the Democratic National Committee had virtually declared war on the conservative news network, though there were candidates (like Dennis Kucinich) who said the party was making a mistake in not trying to appeal to more independents and even conservatives.

Fox News execs were selling the debate as a way for the candidates — especially Clinton — to appeal to moderates. Sanders was up for it; Hillary wasn’t.

It should be noted that following the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee said they would control their presidential primary debates in 2015-16, and they’ve done so by controlling the sponsors — which is why you haven’t seen one GOP debate on MSNBC.

In other news …

Jeff Atwater doesn’t regret not getting into the U.S. Senate race. The CFO also touted the Florida economy in an appearance in St. Petersburg on Monday.

David Jolly voted again last week against adding yet another congressional panel to investigate those Planned Parenthood videos from last summer. After a pro-life group castigated the Pinellas lawmaker, Senate opponent Carlos Lopez-Cantera joined in yesterday with a digital ad.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald stuck his foot in his mouth again yesterday, not a good thing when there are plenty of folks who don’t believe he’s cleaned up his troubled agency nearly that much. Among those critics would be CD 12 Republican Gus Bilirakis.

And after President Obama signed the reauthorization of the National Estuary Program, Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan gave POTUS a shout-out.

Jeff Atwater has no regrets about not entering run for U.S. Senate

It was 13 months ago when Jeff Atwater stunned the Florida political world by announcing he would not run for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

A Quinnipiac Poll taken just a week earlier showed him leading the two major Democratic candidates in the race, Congressmen Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy, and he was considered to have by far the best name recognition of any Florida Republican considering entering the contest. His decision unfroze the field, with David Jolly, Ron DeSantis, Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox all filing to declare their candidacies in the months that followed (joined by Carlos Beruff earlier this year). Though at one point last fall Atwater talked about the “possibility” of getting back into the race, he never did. Now Florida’s Chief Financial Officer says he’s content not making the move for Washington was the right move.

“No, no, no. The timing just wasn’t right for us,” Atwater said after speaking to the St. Petersburg Republican Club at Parkshore Grill on Beach Drive on Monday afternoon. He said he made the decision roughly around three months after being inaugurated for another four-year term as the state’s CFO, and wasn’t prepared to engage in another year-and-half of campaigning in an attempt to succeed Marco Rubio in Washington.

“We’re loving what we’re doing,” he said about his current state of affairs, adding that he wished all five of the GOP senate candidates well. “They’re hustling,” he said. “It’s been far to get out of the shadow of the presidential conversation, but they’re hustling, and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.”

Atwater said for now he’s staying neutral in the race, but will back whomever survives the Aug. 30 primary.

Earlier, the CFO presented a glowing report card on the state of Florida’s economy to the 30 or so people in the attendance, and he particularly seemed to relish comparing the state’s financial  health with the economies of the nation’s four other largest sized states — California, New York, Texas and Illinois.

Atwater referenced a George Mason University study that listed Florida as having the fifth-best economy in the country. Actually, last fall the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index rated Florida the fourth most financially sound state in the nation, trailing only behind Wyoming, South Dakota and Alaska. He then went into some details about the where the state was financially in 2004 — when top-line revenues were $27 billion and the average home price was $258,000, and how upside down they were in 2009, at the apex of the Great Recession, when the top-line had been reduced to $21 billion with 500,000 homes in foreclosure and the average priced home had slumped to a miserable $121,000.

He said the state was at a financial crossroads about how to fill that $6 billion funding gap, and said if it had been up to editorial writers throughout the state, that gap would have been patched up by raising taxes.“Instead the answer was, we’ll reduce our run rate of spending to match the run rate of revenue,” he said. “We will not pull revenue up. “

Unlike some other high-ranking state officials, Atwater intentionally avoids saying that the state has created conditions that allowed the economy to recover better here than in other parts of the country. Instead he continuously emphasized to the audience that it was “you” who had done the work to keep business conditions positive.

“Every time the government can trust the marketplace to bring us back, it does,” he said.

He now says top-line revenues are at $28 billion, the median price of a home is $209,000, adding that “you’ve created more jobs in the country the last three years.”

His only notes of discord in an otherwise sunny trip thorough recent history was when he discussed the federal debt and deficit.

“There’s just not that much time,” he fretted. “I’m not saying that the country is going to disappear, it’s just going to be a far different place to the extent that my children’s income will have to be extorted, to be able to cover the cost of what’s being built,” adding that he also feared that the younger generation won’t ever have the opportunities that he had growing up. He said that should motivate the fellow Republicans in the room regarding this fall’s election.

Senate Majority PAC slated to spend $10.5M in Florida this fall

A super PAC aimed at helping Democratic U.S. Senate candidates is prepared to spend more than $10 million in Florida this fall.

The Senate Majority PAC, a political committee aimed at helping take back the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, said it is poised to spend $10.5 million on cable and broadcast advertisements in Florida starting in September.

“Republicans are going to nominate a far-right, Tea Party candidate who is out of touch with Florida’s middle class,” said Shripal Shah, Senate Majority PAC’s director of communications. “We’re going to be ready to hold their eventual nominee accountable.”

Rep. Patrick Murphy and Rep. Alan Grayson are battling it out for their party’s nomination to replace Republican Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate.

Many Democrats have lined up behind Murphy, who many in the party believe has the best shot of winning in the fall. It’s unclear if Senate Majority PAC will still spend in the state if Grayson is the nominee.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Carlos Beruff, and Todd Wilcox are running for the Republican nomination. The primary is Aug. 30.

The group is also expected to spend $7.5 million in Nevada, $8.5 million in New Hampshire, and $9.5 million in Ohio this fall.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera attacks David Jolly on Planned Parenthood vote

Carlos-Lopez Cantera is taking direct aim at David Jolly in a new digital ad released on Monday. The ad targets the Pinellas County Representative for refusing to support another congressional investigation into the allegations that Planned Parenthood harvested and trafficked in fetal body parts.

“David Jolly refused to hold the largest abortion provider in the country accountable last week by voting to end the investigation of the harvesting and trafficking of fetal body parts,” said Courtney Alexander, a spokesperson for Lopez-Cantera. “What’s worse? This isn’t the first time Jolly has refused to stand up for life.”

Indeed, Jolly also opposed a similar vote to create another House panel to investigate Planned Parenthood last fall, something he boasted about during his one-on-one debate with Democrat Alan Grayson last month.

“When my side of the aisle asked for an investigation of Planned Parenthood, I actually voted no,” Jolly said during that debate. “I was the only Republican to vote no. Should the issue be looked at? Yes. But there were already three committees looking at the issue. We didn’t need a fourth. We’re either going to be the party of less government or not.”

“Leave it to Carlos to want to spend millions of your taxpayer dollars on a fourth committee to investigate a matter that is already under investigation by three others,” added Jolly campaign spokesman Max Goodman in a statement on Monday. “But don’t worry, he swears he’s a fiscal conservative.”

The Jolly Senate campaign also forwarded an op-ed the congressman penned last fall explaining his vote against another committee. He wrote that if the allegations that Planned Parenthood executives sold fetal body parts were correct, it was “both heartbreaking and shocking,” and “should offend every American.” However, he wrote, “As a conservative who believes in smaller, more efficient, less costly government, I consistently argue against attempts by the current administration to expand government, create more bureaucracy, and obligate taxpayers to redundant and duplicative expense.”

Jolly’s vote opposing the latest panel occurred last Tuesday during an Appropriations Committee mark-up, in which an amendment was offered to disband the Select Panel.

In their statement, the Lopez-Cantera campaign also took note of the fact that the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List condemned Jolly for his vote last week opposing the creation of another congressional panel looking into the videos. In a statement listed on that organization’s website from May 17, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the group, asked why Jolly would “buy into Planned Parenthood’s talking points to half the inquiry?”

“He has just allied himself with the underbelly of the abortion industry and disqualified himself from the Florida Senate Republican primary,” Dannenfelser said. “He has betrayed the pro-life movement and does not deserve the support of conscientious Floridians.”

Jolly has been an early front-runner in some of GOP polls taken this year of the five candidates running for Senate this year. On certain issues, he is by far the most moderate candidate in the five-person field, which also includes Carlos Beruff, Todd Wilcox and Ron DeSantis.

While that moderation label may make him the party’s best hope to retain the seat in the fall, it could lead to his undoing in the primary.

You can watch the video, labeled “Jolly’s Folly,” below.

 

 

Alan Grayson: At least they’re not calling me Hitler

Democrat Alan Grayson has been dubbed “Angry Alan” by his Senate opponent, compared to Republican Donald Trump for his penchant for earning headlines with his mouth and has become the whipping post for some in the Washington party establishment who hope he loses Florida’s primary.

But he said things could be worse.

“At least they’re not calling me the Adolf Hitler of the Democratic Senate race. They haven’t quite gone there yet. It’s only a matter of time before they accuse me of both cannibalism and necrophilia,” Grayson, who is Jewish, said during an interview at a Florida Democratic Party fundraising dinner Saturday. “Nobody buys that!”

A not-so-angry Grayson made his way through a crowd of top Democratic donors, activists and elected officials at the event — the anti-establishment candidate working the establishment itself. He was pleasant and gracious, telling U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, “If there’s anything we can do for you while you’re here, please let me know.”

Ironically, establishment-backed candidate Congressman Patrick Murphy didn’t attend the Florida Democratic Party fundraising dinner. His campaign said he had a previously planned dinner with his family.

The Democratic primary has become increasingly nasty, with Murphy repeatedly criticizing Grayson over ethical questions about his management of a Cayman Islands-based hedge fund. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has called for Grayson to quit the race, saying he has no moral compass. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have endorsed Murphy, as has the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Grayson has been called bombastic. He cursed during a live television interview while criticizing a New York Times article detailing the alleged ethics violations. He’s known for cursing at reporters.

“I’m saying what other people are thinking and nobody else is saying,” Grayson said. And to all the critics who get worked up over his inflammatory comments? He says quit taking his words so literally. Like when he said the Republican health care plan was to “die quickly” if you get sick.

“Did I really think that that was their health care plan? Did Jonathan Swift really think that the Irish should eat their children when he wrote a book about that? No. That’s satire. I assume that the voters have enough intelligence to be able to understand figures of speech, hyperbole, metaphors — the tools of public communication that have fallen by the wayside,” he said. “I don’t feel I have to pay a price for being interesting.”

Still, the Murphy campaign is making Grayson’s temperament an issue and notes that Grayson himself does a lot of name-calling. Grayson routinely calls Murphy a “sock puppet” and says he’s the establishment choice because he’s obedient.

“Grayson’s schoolyard insults fall lamely short of the truth. On the day Grayson announced his campaign, he launched negative, misleading attacks on Patrick,” Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in an email. “Grayson loves to hear himself talk on TV, but the time to judge someone is when the stakes are high and voters are watching. Alan Grayson fails the test, because time and time again he uses angry, bullying tactics to avoid the truth.”

Murphy and Grayson are seeking the seat Republican Marco Rubio is giving up after his failed presidential campaign. Republicans running for the seat include Congressmen David Jolly and Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and businessmen Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox.

Despite many in the Democratic Party establishment lining up behind Murphy, state party Chairwoman Allison Tant, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz all said Saturday they’d be comfortable with Grayson as the nominee should he win the Aug. 30 primary.

“Alan Grayson is a colleague, and if he’s the nominee, I’m going to support him,” Wasserman-Schultz said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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