Charlie Crist Archives - Page 5 of 77 - Florida Politics

Cook Report: How Florida’s 27 congressional districts stack up in partisan divides

The latest Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index finds that just one Florida congressional district leans more than 20 percent Republican while two lean more than 20 percent Democrat – and two Republicans occupy seats in districts that lean Democratic.

The report, on the partisan makeup and voting records of all 435 districts in the 115th Congress, shows that Florida still has a number of districts drawn with sure-fire party preferences, though nothing like some other states, notably Texas, New York, Tennessee, and California.

Two members of Florida’s 27-member delegation represent districts that lean toward the other party: Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Kendall, whose Congressional District 26 leans six points toward Democrats; and neighboring Republican U.S. Rep.  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, whose Congressional District 27 leans five points toward Democrats, according to Cook’s scoring.

Both of their districts went for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, and also went for President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

Not so much confusion among voters in Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz‘s Congressional District 1; nor  in Democratic U.S. Reps. Frederica Wilson in Florida’s Congressional District 24, and Alcee Hastings Congressional District 20. They all have extraordinarily safe districts for their parties.

Wilson’s Miami Gardens-based district has a whopping 34 percent lean for Democratic voters, while Hastings’ Miramar district has a 31 percent lean, according to Cook.

Gaetz is Florida’s only Republican with a 20 point or greater cushion for his party: 22 points total in his Fort Walton Beach-based district.

However, there are plenty others with safe seats of 10 or more points, in both parties.

Here are how Florida’s other members of congress, stack up, according to Cook:

– Republican U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn of Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, +18 Republican.

– Republican U.S. Rep. John Rutherford of Florida’s 4th Congressional District, +17 Republican.

– Republican U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida’s 11th Congressional District, +15 Republican.

– Republican U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney of Florida’s 19th Congressional District, +13 Republican.

– Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida’s 17th Congressional District, +13 Republican.

– Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson of Florida’s 5th Congressional District, +12 Democratic.

– Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, +11 Democratic.

– Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Florida’s 10th Congressional District, +11 Democratic.

– Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey of Florida’s 8th Congressional District, +11 Republican.

– Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, +9 Republican.

– Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida’s 21st Congressional District, +9 Democratic.

– Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida’s 12th Congressional District, +8 Republican.

– Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida’s 6th Congressional District, +7 Republican.

– Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida’s 14th Congressional District, +7 Democratic.

– Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida’s 16th Congressional District, +7 Republican.

– Republican U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida’s 15th Congressional District, +6 Republican.

– Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, +5 Democratic.

– Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast of Florida’s 18th Congressional District, +5 Republican.

– Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Florida’s 9th Congressional District, +5 Democratic.

– Republican U.S. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida’s 25th Congressional District, +4 Republican.

– Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida’s 13th Congressional District, +2 Democratic.

– Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida’s 7th Congressional District – even.


Andrew Gillum tells college Democrats: ‘We don’t have to run from who we are’

Even though the 2018 election cycle has barely begun, there’s no question that Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is quickly learning that his progressive stances are finding enthusiastic responses as he barnstorms the state.

“We can win elections in this state again by being Democrats!” Gillum told an enthusiastic group of Florida College Democrats in Tampay, where they were meeting for their spring convention.

“We don’t have to obfuscate. We don’t have to run from who we are. We can say exactly who it is we are and what we believe and why we’re good for the rest of Florida,” he said at the conclusion of his formal remarks to the crowd of approximately 120 students who gathered at the University Area Community Center.

Referring to previous wins at the ballot box on small class size, solar power and medical marijuana, Gillum asked the crowd rhetorically what was the disconnect that ultimately finds that “our candidates can’t bring it home?

“I would submit that it’s difficult to bring it home if it is difficult to tell the difference between the Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee,” he said, a clear shot at previous statewide centrist-oriented Democratic candidates like Patrick Murphy, Charlie Crist and Alex Sink.

Noting how the past two gubernatorial elections and last fall’s presidential race all were within 1.5 percentage points in the GOP’s favor, Gillum said the difference in most of those cases was just 70,000 votes in a state of 20 million.

“I believe we might have a chance, a shot at turning 100,000 more people believing like us out, and taking this state back for people. Not special interests, but for people.”

Gillum spent another ten minutes fielding some questions from the students. He made an emphasis about how he’s not afraid of taking on sacred “special interests,” referring to the Second Amendment Foundation and the group Florida Carry suing the Tallahassee City Commission for refusing to repeal ordinances that prevent shooting guns in a public park.

And with Syria back in the headlines, he reminded the audience that back in the fall of 2015 he made a point of welcoming refugees from that war torn country to his city, in exact contravention of what Governor Rick Scott was calling on at that time.

“We had a governor and a Legislature who said that Syrians were no longer welcome in the state of Florida. Right? Never mind that the governor has no say based on immigration policy on who can come in and out of the state of Florida,” he said. “So he took license, so I took license too. I said immigrants and refugees were welcome in Tallahassee.”

Saying he got “tons of blowback,” Gillum said the reason he stood up what “our values  matter when it’s hard,” relating that’s equally hard for immigrant communities in Florida right now.

He also spoke up for state workers, talking about how he’s been able to give three percent pay raises for municipal workers in Tallahassee since being mayor, and said he would like to be able to do slowly address the lack of any such pay increase for a decade (the governor has proposed merit bonuses this year)

“Our governor goes around bragging that we’re the cheapest state to run in all of America, we have the cheapest work force at the state level,” he said. “I don’t know about you, but if I’m governor of the third largest state, I want an efficient, and effective and highly talented and highly competent work force.”

Chris King, the only other officially declared Democrat in the 2018 gubernatorial race, was scheduled to address the group on Saturday night.

Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor want Congress consulted on military force in Syria

The two Tampa Bay-area Democratic members of Congress — Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist — say they support President Donald Trump‘s military action in Syria Thursday night. both say that the House of Representatives should immediately reconvene so that members can debate the use of military force there.

But both say the House of Representatives should reconvene immediately so members can debate the use of military force there.

That seems doubtful, perhaps, as the House is breaking Thursday for a two-week Easter recess.

“The Tomahawk missile strike on the Syrian air base was an important and targeted response to Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons,” Castor said. “Russia and Iran should be held accountable as well for their support of Assad and his war on the Syrian people.”

“The continued atrocities committed by Bashar al-Assad against innocent men, women, and most horrifyingly, children and infants, are an assault on humanity and must be stopped,” said Crist. “Last night’s targeted airstrikes were a proportional and appropriate response, making clear that these war crimes will not go unanswered.”

Both Democratic lawmakers say that the Constitution puts the responsibility to declare war with the Congress, and that the President should make his case before them if he is prepared to engage further in Syria.

‎”Congressional leaders, the Trump Administration and Obama Administration have been derelict in following the requirements of the Constitution and law for a formal Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF),” said Castor. “The military strike on Syria and ongoing war on ISIS should prod policymakers to return to Washington and adopt a new AUMF.”

“Congress must also do its part and return immediately from recess to debate an Authorization for Use of Military Force to determine a comprehensive strategy for the United States and our allies,” said Crist. “We need clear objectives to end this crisis to protect our troops and the Syrian people.”

Castor has previously criticized Barack Obama for not getting an Authorization for Use of Military Force in engaging in battle with the Islamic State, criticism that some other Democrats made as well, none more loudly than Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

Congressional Democrats as a whole seem to be parroting a consistent line Friday, praising Trump for the cruise missile attacks on a Syrian military base, but insisting he go before the Congress to get authorization before any further action.

Citing rising poll numbers, Florida congressional Dems urge Rick Scott to expand Medicaid

When Congressional Republicans last month attempted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, they heard from several GOP governors, who warned them not to go ahead with a plan to cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid, saying it would have a deleterious effect on voters.

Now, with new polling indicating that Medicaid has never been more popular, Florida Congressional Democrats are finding the inspiration to ask Gov. Rick Scott to again consider expanding Medicaid.

“A number of states that had not previously expanded Medicaid are now considering expansion and we strongly urge you and the Florida Legislature to do so too,” begins the letter penned by Sen. Bill Nelson, and Congress members Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel, Fredericka Wilson, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy and Darren Soto.

The letter comes on the same that a new poll conducted by the University of Miami shows that two-thirds of Floridians, or 67 percent, say they favor Medicaid expansion.

Infamously, Scott said in 2013 that he initially supported expanding Medicaid in Florida, but then quickly reversed course and every year since has steadfastly maintained his opposition, despite the business community rallying behind such a move.

In 2015, the Florida Senate approved a hybrid version of Medicaid expansion; the House overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.

State officials said that plan would have covered as many as 650,000 residents.

Here’s the text of the letter sent to Scott:

Dear Governor Scott:

A number of states that had not previously expanded Medicaid are now considering expansion and we strongly urge you and the Florida Legislature to do so too. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia already have expanded Medicaid to provide affordable health care to working families and students. Floridians should not be placed at a disadvantage compared to other states. Indeed, a survey published today by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation found that 67 percent of Floridians support moving forward with expansion to bring $66 billion in federal funding between the years of 2013-2022 to our state. Medicaid expansion will boost jobs and enable Florida to move to a more efficient health care delivery model. In fact, it is estimated that the state would have seen $8.9 billion in increased economic activity and more than 71,000 new jobs in 2016 alone. It not too late to chart a better course for the State of Florida.

Now that Speaker Ryan has declared, “[the Affordable Care Act] is the law of the land,” we should all be doing our part to expand coverage to the uninsured, improve the quality of health plans, and lower costs for everyone. Expanding eligibility to all Floridians with annual income below 138 percent of the federal poverty level–less than $30,000 per year for a family of three–is the fiscally-responsible thing to do not only for a huge number of Floridians, but also for consumers who use, for businesses who provide coverage to their employees, and for hospitals who are charged with providing care without regard to a patient’s coverage status. Insurance premiums for Americans who have private insurance are generally lower in states that have expanded Medicaid. Private insurance costs are higher in states that did not expand Medicaid because of costs of sick and uninsured are transferred to the private insurance pool according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Coverage is key, rather than costly and inefficient emergency room care and delayed treatment.

With years of Medicaid expansion already underway in other parts of the country, we have seen that other hard working Americans have benefited from improvements in health care quality and affordability through expansion. Medicaid expansion in Florida would provide over 800,000 of our fellow Floridians with access to primary care. Preventive services like screening for HIV, cancer, and heart disease will save lives, help keep our state’s residents healthier, and improve management of their chronic conditions. Providing access to Medicaid will also improve risk pools in the private market, a shift that has saved consumers in expansion states seven percent on their monthly premiums. Floridians deserve these benefits just like any other American.

Medicaid expansion also will reduce the unpaid medical bills owed to hospitals that put pressure on the state budget and our safety net hospitals funded with taxpayer dollars. Refusing to cover working Floridians through Medicaid expansion does not reduce our state’s health care costs, it just passes them on through rising premiums and tax hikes. With a third of our state’s resources already devoted to health care, the influx of $50 billion in federal funding would safeguard services from the draconian cuts currently under consideration by the state legislature. Medicaid expansion would help the state avoid the rising costs brought by Zika, the opioid crisis and mental health needs.

Throughout your time as the chief executive of our state, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has shown a willingness to work with you to find a path forward that will expand coverage to hard-working, able-bodied adults in our state. States with conservative governors around the nation have arrived at solutions that expanded Medicaid while upholding their conservative principles. If you miss this opportunity, you will chart a fiscally-irresponsible path that will cost our state billions, cost our state jobs and sacrifice the health and well-being of all Floridians.

Thankfully, Republicans in Congress abandoned their recent proposal to rip coverage away from millions of Americans including children, the disabled, and our neighbors with Alzheimer’s in skilled nursing. Like most Floridians, we realized that this was not an honest attempt at improving health care in America. Rather than continuing political games over the Affordable Care Act, we ask that you move to develop a plan for Medicaid expansion in our state to benefit the health, financial security, and well-being of all Floridians.




Report: St. Pete, Tampa among 21 Florida cities with unhealthy air pollution in 2015

The Sunshine State’s air is dirtier than it should be, according to an environment report issued Thursday.

The study, called Our Health at Risk, reviewed EPA records of air pollution levels across the country, focusing on smog and soot — dangerous pollutants that come from burning dirty fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.

Among its key findings:

— People in the Tampa Bay area experienced 56 days with elevated smog pollution and 86 days with elevated soot pollution in 2015.

— St. Petersburg ranked 1st in the state for worst smog pollution in 2015, and 1st for soot.

Across Florida, 21 cities and metro areas had unhealthy levels of air pollution with an average of 17 dirty air days during 2015, including Miami, Tallahassee, and Gainesville.

The report comes as the Trump Administration is planning major cuts to environmental programs promulgated by the Obama administration, including a request to the EPA to rewrite the Clean Power Plan; a request to the Department of Interior to rewrite air pollution regulations for oil and gas drilling; a proposal to cut the EPA’s budget by 31 percent, and instructions to the TPA to roll back federal clean car standards.

“We can’t afford to roll back these key environmental protections,” said Congressman Charlie Crist. “More pollution and more climate change are direct threats to our community’s health, safety, energy independence, and economy.”

The report was written by Elizabeth Ridlington from the Frontier Group and Travis Madsen from the Environment America Research & Policy Center, and published by Environment Florida.

“There’s no safe level of exposure to smog and particulate pollution,” said Ridlington. “Elevated levels of air pollution — even levels the federal government says are safe for most people — hurt our health.”

“In the face of reckless and dangerous actions from the Trump Administration on clean air, Senators Nelson and Rubio must stand up for our health,” said Turner Lott with Environment Florida. “We urge our senators to defend clean air safeguards and clean car standards so that dirty air days can become a thing of the past.”

Charlie Crist finds footing in Congress, raises record $717K in 1st quarter

Charlie Crist is reporting more than $717,000 raised in the first quarter of 2017, a record-breaking amount for any freshman lawmaker during the first months in office.

“I’m humbled by this historic outpouring of early support and honored that so many people are rallying behind the people of Pinellas County,” Crist said in a statement. “This is a part of the country that believes in bipartisanship and making sure Washington is accountable to the people. I’m doing everything I can to amplify that sentiment.”

Crist now has $672,083 cash-on-hand.

In his first few weeks in Washington, the St. Petersburg Democrat stumbled out of the gate, including missing a vote condemning a UN Security Council resolution aimed at Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

But he’s since found his footing, and won raves from his constituents after hosting a four-hour town hall meeting in St. Petersburg last month.

He’s also held a number of fundraisers in his short time in office.

But raising more than three-quarters of a million dollars in a non-election year is definitely an achievement for any congressional incumbent, much less one in just his first three months of his term in office.

In that respect, Crist is the antithesis of the man he vanquished in the Congressional District 13 race last fall, David Jolly.

Jolly was not known to enjoy fundraising and wasn’t considered very good at it. One of his signature pieces of legislation he proposed during his time in Congress was the STOP Act, which would have banned federal office holders (like Crist) from raising money in office.

While the bill received plenty of media attention, it went nowhere in the House of Representatives.

Michael Richardson: Is there an adult in the room?

Michael Richardson

The national Democrat Party stands at a defining crossroads. In the wake of an epic fail over health care on the part of Republicans in Congress and the dilettantes in the White House, Democrats have a choice to make: either become a reprehensible copycat “Party of No” or embark on a nobler path for the common good.

Democrats can hardly be blamed for reveling, at least briefly, in the misfortune of their political foes’ most recent humiliation. After all, the national Republican Party has devoted itself to being as recalcitrant and bellicose as possible over the last eight years. They have brazenly fanned the flames of partisanship by, among other things, repeatedly challenging the very legitimacy of the previous president, defiantly refusing even to hold public hearings on his last Supreme Court nominee and many other judges and high-level federal appointees, as well as relentlessly pursuing a campaign of undermining the federal government’s ability to function effectively. And they have carried out these flagrant assaults on public institutions with apparent impunity, thus far at least.

Still, this is not the time for Democrats to score political points. In addition, simply emulating the obstructive tactics of the Republican Party would be shortsighted at best. As tempting as this strategy might be, even an unlikely electoral rout of Republicans in 2018 would be a pyrrhic victory. It would only precipitate a vicious cycle of retaliation and one-upmanship into the future as legislative control inevitably switches back and forth between increasingly hostile political parties, both unwilling to compromise because of arrogant self-righteousness and mutual disdain. Such puerile behavior is a surefire roadmap for national decline and eventual disintegration.

Instead, Democrats need to do the responsible thing and be the adults in the room. Effective leadership in addressing major problems facing our nation entails laying out practical solutions that enjoy broad-based popular support. This should start with proposed modifications to the Affordable Care Act, which virtually everyone recognizes as in need of significant improvement for the good of the public.

It should not have come as a surprise that Republicans failed to muster enough votes from their own party to pass their “repeal and replace” health care bill in the House. After all, the chasm between today’s conservative Republican orthodoxy and popular opinion on this and so many other issues is wide and growing. As evidence, consider that the Republican nominee has won the popular vote nationwide in only 1 of the 7 (14 percent) presidential elections of the last quarter century. And that one time was the re-election of an incumbent, George W. Bush, whose conservative bona fides were constantly castigated by his party’s right wing because of his centrist positions on many non-military issues, the most notable being his role in the enactment of drug coverage under Medicare.

If the Democrats had provided a detailed proposal for improving the health care law during the 2016 presidential campaign instead of focusing almost exclusively on why the other side was so bad, the result might have been different. But the Clinton campaign decided to err on the side of caution and play defense, almost always a questionable strategy, but especially so given the electorate’s clearly demonstrated craving for courageous action, not feel-good platitudes or tired right-wing nostrums.

Given the current political atmosphere, I suspect the lion’s share of Republicans in Congress would summarily reject any health care fix proffered by the Democrats, however centrist or popular it might be. But that is beside the point. The public deserves to know how the Democrats intend to improve the current health care system, and more importantly, it is the right thing to do. A widely popular, pragmatic plan to make our health care system better would stand in stark contrast to the Republican “repeal and replace” bill, which failed miserably due to gaping divisions within their own party.

Then, when the “repeal and replace” bill tanked, President Donald Trump promptly threatened to let the health care system “explode,” and perhaps even to hasten its collapse, before riding to the rescue with a “beautiful, more affordable” replacement that will provide better coverage for all.  Such malarkey.  That’s not leadership. That’s recklessness and spite run amok.

I’m hopeful the majority of voters would see the sharp difference between the two parties’ contrasting approaches and reward the adults in the room, not only in 2018, but for the foreseeable future as well.


Until retiring in 2011, Michael Richardson was assistant secretary of the Florida Department of Community Affairs under Gov. Charlie Crist. He has also served as a committee staff member in the Florida Senate, a policy adviser to Govs. Bob Graham and Bob Martinez, and from 1990 through 2006, a self-employed management consultant to state and local governments.

Charlie Crist joins bill rolling back Doanld Trump’s efforts to weaken Clean Power Plan

Two days after President Donald Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency to start the legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

St. Petersburg Congressman Charlie Crist joined 35 other Democrats to file legislation to prevent its implementation.

HR 1812, known as the Congressional Leadership in Mitigating Administration Threats to the Earth (CLIMATE) Act declares the anti-environment executive order null and void and prohibits federal funds from implementing, administering, or enforcing the order.

“My home county of Pinellas is quite literally a peninsula on the peninsula of Florida, and we feel the effects of climate change daily. Our shorelines are impacted by severe storms and constant coastal erosion. And, as a result, there are real concerns that one of our key revenue sources — tourism — may wash away bit by bit,” Crist said. “We can’t afford to roll back these key environmental protections — more pollution and more climate change are direct threats to our community’s health, safety, energy independence, and economy.”

Obama’s Clean Power Plan would have closed hundreds of coal-fired power plants, frozen construction of new plants and replaced them with vast new wind and solar farms. It also undercuts regulations on methane emissions.

“This executive order ignores both the science and the impacts of global climate change, and jeopardizes our children’s future by reorienting our policies backwards toward higher-emission sources of energy,” says Illinois Democrat Brad Schneider, another co-sponsor of the bill. “The United States must continue to play a leadership role in the international effort to confront climate change, or risk losing that role to other countries. We need to lead not just to protect our environment and national security, but to also ensure that the green energy jobs of tomorrow are created here at home.”

Trump signed the order while surrounded by coal workers and executives earlier this week.

“C’mon, fellas. You know what this is? You know what this says?” Trump reportedly said to the miners as he signed the order, according to The New York Times. “You’re going back to work.”

Florida may reinstate resign-to-run law for politicians

Florida could reinstate a law that forces politicians to resign from their elected positions if they wind up running for federal office.

A House panel on Wednesday voted for a sweeping election bill that would return the law to way it was before 2007. The Republican-controlled Legislature changed the law that year to help Gov. Charlie Crist.

Crist at the time was seen as a rising GOP star and viable candidate for vice president. He wound up switching parties and is now a Democratic congressman from St. Petersburg.

Rep. Matt Caldwell, a Fort Myers Republican and sponsor of the bill, said state and local politicians should not get a “free shot” if they run for federal office.

The legislation would also make changes to when cities could hold elections.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Omar Khan among a group of former Obama staffers now working for Chris King’s gubernatorial campaign

Central Florida businessman Chris King has made some major hires for his burgeoning candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Florida governor.

King has named Omar Khan to serve as his senior adviser, as well as adding other Barack Obama alumni Jeremy Bird, Hari Sevugan, Larry Girsolano and Isaac Baker to his team.

Khan was campaign manager for Charlie Crist’s 2014 gubernatorial run. He also served as National Associate Political Director on President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-elect and as Deputy Political Director in Florida in 2008.

Bird was the National Field Director for Obama’s 2012 re-elect campaign and was Deputy Director of Organizing for America. After Obama’s election in 2012, he founded 270 Strategies, a political consulting firm.

Sevugan was a senior spokesman on the 2008 Obama campaign and served as national press secretary for the Democratic National Committee throughout the Obama administration.

Isaac Baker served as Deputy Director of Paid Media for Obama in 2012 and was his Ohio Communications Director in 2008.

King is the founder and CEO of Elevation Financial Group, a consortium of companies which invest in and manage affordable housing. He is a Harvard graduate and also has a law degree from the University of Florida.

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