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New Stephanie Murphy TV ad says John Mica shares Donald Trump’s ‘harmful policies’

Democratic congressional candidate Stephanie Murphy has called on her Republican opponent U.S. Rep. John Mica to denounce Donald Trump for newly disclosed statements about women and she released a new TV commercial saying Mica shares’ Trump’s ‘harmful policies.’

The TV commercial, “It’s Time To Change Washington,” charges that Mica and Trump share policies opposing a woman’s right to chose and opposing gun law reforms. The commercial is paid for by both Murphy’s official campaign to win in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, and by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

CD 7 covers north-central and northeast Orange County and Seminole County.

“Stop the attacks on women’s health,” Murphy states in the commercial.

But it’s aimed at much more than that. It aims at tying the 12-term Republican congressman from Winter Park with the newcomer Republican presidential nominee who is charting new territory outside traditional GOP rhetoric and policy on an almost daily basis.

The latest from Trump, the reports on and release of a 2005 audio tape in which Trump brags vulgarly about abusing women, has brought a new round of Republicans. Murphy called for Mica to denounce it.

Mica was unavailable Saturday to respond; a staff member said he was busy working with Hurricane Matthew relief authorities.

“I call on Congressman Mica to do the right thing and denounce and disavow Donald Trump once and for all,” Murphy stated in a news release announcing the new TV commercial. “It’s time for strong moral leadership in Congress that treats everyone equally and with dignity – and with a new approach that puts the security and prosperity of Floridians over partisan politics.”

Analysis shows Democrats are catching up in vote-by-mail requests — but will they vote?

A detailed analysis of requests for mail-in ballots in Florida for the Nov. 8 general election shows Democrats are getting more proficient at getting their voters to request such ballots but still trail Republicans, especially among “super voters.”

The analysis, done by Associated Industries of Florida, finds that so far this election, 2.66 million mail ballots [formerly known as absentee ballots] have been requested, with 1.12 million requested by registered Republicans, 1.02 million requested by registered Democrats, and the rest by independent or third-party voters.

Wednesday is the day at least 40 counties across the state kick off their general election by dropping mail ballots. More mail-in ballots will yet be requested, so the numbers will change.

The Republican advantage in mail-in ballots has shrunk compared to previous elections. Now Republicans are requesting about 42.3 percent of the mail ballots and Democrats about 38.4 percent. But those Democrats this year include much larger numbers of voters who have never, rarely, or only occasionally voted, while those Republicans include much larger numbers of people who usually or always vote. So, it remains unclear how many of the Democrats’ mail-in votes will actually be cast, while Republicans should feel more confident, the AIF analysis shows.

The AIF also suggests both parties are essentially cannibalizing early and Election Day voter totals by getting those people to vote by mail this time. According to the analysis, 29 percent of those Republicans who sought mail ballots this year either voted early or on Election Day in the 2012 presidential election. For the Democrats, the switch was 31 percent.

In the past four elections, Republicans have dominated mail-in voting, while in three of those Democrats have dominated early voting. As for Election Day voting, Democrats were more common at polling places in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, and Republicans in the 2010 and 2014 off-year elections.

“Are the Democrats doing a much better job in getting their voters to request absentees? Yes. But whether they truly are remaking the electorate will be evidenced in whether or not they get their lower propensity voters to return [ballots] at a pace ahead of the Republicans,” the AIF analysis concludes. “Do we expect the Democrats to have a lead in the Early Period? Yes, as they always have. We also suspect they will come close to tying the Republicans in VBM [vote-by-mail] returns and then overtake them during the early vote period. But at least as of today, we would expect Republicans will have more of their likely voters left heading into Election Day and thus close the gap they will face from the early period.”

AutoNation chair Mike Jackson lashes out against anti-immigration, anti-trade positions

The chairman and president of the nation’s largest car dealer company, Mike Jackson of AutoNation, blasted Donald Trump and others who rail against immigrants and international trade deals, during a keynote address to the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

In his speech Thursday night to the chamber’s Future of Florida Forum Leadership Dinner in Orlando, Jackson outlined four things he called the four flat tires in the American economy. And besides over-regulation and complex, too-high taxes, he said the nation’s refusal to pursue deals to open international trade, and its anti-immigration fervor are having profound effects slowing the economy.

Jackson, whose Fort Lauderdale company is the nation’s largest automotive retailer with dealerships in 15 states, said he is so upset that the anti-immigration and anti-trade deal positions have taken favor in the Republican Party that he recently quit the party to become an independent, and said he cannot support Trump.

“The Republican Party at the moment is unrecognizable from anything I’ve ever known,” Jackson said.

He was equally critical of Democrats, saying they are moving toward European-style socialism “at breakneck speed.” But said he would be supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton because he’s convinced she has less potential to do major damage.

He brought the house down by declaring, and illustrating with a cartoon, that Trump, in his view, is the “billionaire Archie Bunker” from the TV show “All In The Family,” while Clinton is the diabolically “cunning Claire Underwood” from “House Of Cards.”

But Jackson’s speech focused most passionately on the two issues he said are being misunderstood, the nation’s need to embrace immigrants, even those who came in illegally; and the nation’s need to greatly expand its trade deals worldwide.

Immigrants, he said, risk all to come to America and bring daring entrepreneurial spirits, as evidenced by a fact he cited — 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants.

Yet America has had net-outward immigration since President Barack Obama took office, and that is leading to shortages of labor, especially among people who really want to work hard and bring risk-taking entrepreneurial attitudes, he said.

“What made America great? Immigration,” Jackson said. “Yeah, things got a little out of control there for 15 years, before Barack Obama; we ended up with these 12 million undocumented people in the United States. But for the last eight years it’s actually been going the other way, more migration from the United States to Mexico than from Mexico to the United States.

“So if you build this wall, you’re trapping people in the United States,” he said, to howls of laughter.

Trade deals, he said, open the world. The reason so many companies have opened factories in Mexico, he argued, is not because NAFTA is unfair to the United States, but because Mexico, unlike the United States, followed up on NAFTA by signing additional trade deals with scores of other countries. Consequently, products made in Mexico can be shipped almost anywhere duty-free, while products made in the United States face stiff tariffs worldwide. The same is true of bringing in materials from other countries, he said.

“So eventually, car manufacturers said, ‘You know what? We’re going to Mexico.’ Everybody thinks its the cost of labor. That’s not it,” Jackson said. “It’s not because we have too many trade agreements. It’s because we don’t have enough trade agreements.

“It’s mind-boggling to me that both the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate are saying no to new trade deals. It’s unbelievable,” he said.


Florida vote-by-mail hits record 2.5M requests, Republicans in lead

More people are seeking or casting early ballots in the critical states of Florida and North Carolina than at this point in 2012, as early voting shows signs of surging nationwide.

Florida doesn’t start absentee balloting until Tuesday, but already a record 2.5 million voters have requested ballots. Republicans are ahead in ballot requests, 43 percent to 38 percent.

That’s a much narrower gap than in 2008, the most recent in which comparable data was available. At that time, the Republicans held a solid lead in requests, 51 percent to 32 percent, according to data analyzed for the AP by Catalist, a Democratic firm that helped run data operations for Barack Obama‘s 2008 race. Obama won the state by 2.8 percentage points.

The 2016 improvement can’t be wholly attributed to fresh Democratic enthusiasm. A change in Florida’s laws meant that voters in 2014 who requested absentee ballots could automatically receive them this year. Still, Democrats welcomed early gains, saying it will free them to target more undecided voters.

Hillary Clinton may also benefit from an increase in ballot requests in Georgia, a traditionally Republican state where Democrats have made inroads. But Donald Trump is showing signs of strength in Iowa and parts of Maine, states won by Barack Obama in the last two presidential elections.

The latest snapshot of ballot data offers a glimpse into a key question: How much of a vote advantage can Clinton run up before Nov. 8, when more Republicans tend to vote? Traditionally Republicans have done better initially with early mail-in ballots, before Democrats surpass them once in-person early voting begins. While the ballot sample to date remains small, Clinton so far is hitting guideposts in several battleground states compared to 2008 and 2012.

Though preliminary, data compiled by The Associated Press suggest that advance voting could reach 40 percent of all votes cast nationally — up from 35 percent in 2012. It may also indicate a higher overall turnout in an election that has generated enormous public interest despite — or because of — the unpopularity of both major party candidates.

In Ohio, nearly 806,000 voters had submitted absentee ballot applications. That’s up from nearly 723,000 during a similar period in 2012, when a record 1.87 million early ballots ultimately were cast by mail and in person.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, Brandon Starkes, 28, cited the state’s unsuccessful bid to impose a voter ID law in his decision to vote early. The law was struck down as racially discriminatory.

“I want to make sure I don’t have to deal with issues at the polls on Election Day,” he said. Starkes plans to vote for Clinton.

Voting ahead of Election Day has been a growing phenomenon in the United States, designed to make it easier for people to participate in the democratic process. Absentee voting long has been a fixture in U.S. elections, and the trend toward greater early-voting has picked up steam, as increasing numbers of states have approved changes in election laws to permit it. This electoral culture change reflects not only interests in voter participation but also the changing, more mobile lifestyle of Americans.

In-person early voting begins Thursday in Iowa, while Florida, Arizona and New Hampshire mail out ballots beginning early next month.

In North Carolina, a must-win state for Trump, more than 69,150 ballots have been requested and 8,541 have been returned, according to AP data. That’s up from 8,326 ballots returned during a similar period in 2012.

By party, Democrats made up 40 percent of the ballots returned compared to 35 percent for Republicans. At this point in 2012, Republicans had opened a wide lead over Democrats in returned ballots, 49 percent to 32 percent, leading to Mitt Romney‘s narrow win that state. While Romney was boosted by older whites who voted early by mail, white voters so far have been down this year, to 82 percent from 86 percent of submitted ballots. Black voters, more likely to cast ballots in person, were higher at 12 percent.

“Voters appear to be listening and changing behavior in reaction to changes in laws,” said Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who runs the U.S. Election Project.

Elsewhere, Republicans showed promise.

In Iowa, Democratic requests for ballots continued to outpace Republicans, 63,880 to 24,700. Despite the 3 to 1 advantage, that’s a drop from 2012, when Democrats at this point led 119,318 to 24,909. Clinton plans to visit the state Thursday, the first day of Iowa’s early voting.

“Democrats need to run up the score in Iowa, and so far they are not,” said Lindsay Walters, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

In Maine’s rural 2nd Congressional District, requests for ballots are down 18 percent, mostly among Democrats. Trump is counting on that district’s one electoral vote as part of his narrow path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. If he succeeds, he would be the first Republican since 1992 to win the district in the mostly Democratic state. Maine and Nebraska are the only states that allocate electoral votes by congressional district.

In Georgia, the state does not provide breakdowns of ballots by party, but overall ballot requests are up 5 percent to 82,504.

By race, requests for ballots by whites rose to 62,732 while those from blacks were down slightly to 16,937, according to Catalist’s analysis for the AP. However, Asian-Americans, who in recent elections have leaned Democratic, nearly doubled to 1,588. Hispanics were lower at 761.

Voter modeling by Catalist found that ballots broken down by party were at similar levels to 2012. Obama lost Georgia that year by roughly 8 percentage points. That means to win the state Clinton will have to make up more ground among African-Americans and Hispanics when in-person early voting begins Oct. 17.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Bill Rufty: House District 41 candidates going for the money

RuftySam Killebrew, Republican candidate for Florida House District 41, has raised a campaign war chest double that of Democratic candidate Bob Doyel, who nevertheless raised more than any Democrat running for the district in 16 years.

The battle for the open seat is the only competitive race among the seven legislative seats in Polk County that have elections.

In the latest campaign finance reporting period, Sept. 3 through Sept. 16, Killebrew reported raising $7,400 to bring his total contributions during the primary and general election campaigns to $135,499.

He has loaned himself $51,000. By Sept. 16, he had spent $109,498.

During the same two-week reporting period, Doyel collected $5,280 in campaign contributions, bringing his campaign total to $60,885 and loaning himself $10,000. He had spent $38,616.

The annual salary for a legislator is $29,697.

District 41 includes the eastern portion of Polk County. Latest voter registration numbers show the district with 41,357 Democrats, or 38 percent of the 107,900 registered voters in the district. Registered Republicans number 36,715, or 34 percent of the electorate.

Another 29,828 list themselves as no party affiliation or members of third parties. They make up 28 percent of the registered voters in District 41; those are the voters both candidates are spending money to attract in the final six weeks.

Killebrew has spent more than $32,000 for campaign consulting and $19,000 in campaign mail-outs.

Doyel has paid around $5,000 for consulting and $12,000 for campaign management. While Killebrew was heavy on campaign mailers, Doyel was more focused on campaign signs, according to their expenditure sheets.


Mike Clelland endorses Linda Stewart in SD 13 race

Former state Rep. Mike Clelland, who lost the Democratic primary for Florida Senate District 13 to former state Rep. Linda Stewart, endorsed her Monday for the general election.

The two had been colleagues from Central Florida in the Florida House for two years before both were swept out of office in the 2014 elections. This summer they ran sometimes heated primary campaigns against one another.

Stewart now faces Republican nominee Dean Asher in the Nov. 8 general election.

“Working with her in the Legislature, I had the pleasure of seeing firsthand the type of progressive fighter that Linda Stewart is as a public servant,” Clelland stated in a news release from Stewart’s campaign. “Linda has dedicated her career to standing up for responsible environmental protections, improving access to healthcare and passing commonsense gun safety reforms that keep us safe.

Stewart praised Clelland’s background as a firefighter and lawmaker.

“Mike has always put the people he has pledged to serve first,” she stated in the news release. “It is an honor to receive his endorsement and I look forward to working together with Mike to ensure the people of Orange county have a senator looking out for their interests first in Tallahassee.”

Tim Kaine to watch debate in Orlando, attend Orlando faith leaders meeting, Lakeland rally

Democratic vice presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine is going to watch the presidential debate at a watch party in downtown Orlando Monday night.

Kaine also will be meeting earlier with Orlando-area Hispanic faith leaders in a round table discussion.

The debate watch party will be held at Orlando’s Church Street Station. It will be open to the public, though RSVPs are required through the Hillary For America website. He’ll be using that site to watch the debate between his running mate Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump. Doors open at 6 p.m.

The faith roundtable discussion will take place at 4 p.m. at Iglesia El Calvario, 2500 West Oak Ridge Rd. It will be his third Florida appearance in 24 hours, after speeches in Miami Sunday evening and Lakeland Monday morning. In Lakeland he’ll be appearing at The Lakeland Center at 12:15 p.m., with doors opening to the public at 10:30. Reservations also are required for that event and can be obtained at the Hillary For America website.

This will be Kaine’s second visit to the Central Florida area. He gave a speech in Daytona Beach in early August.

Pride Fund endorses Linda Stewart, Beth Tuura and Carlos Guillermo Smith in state races

A fairly new organization combining gay rights and gun law concerns that was inspired into existence by the June 12 Pulse massacre in Orlando, the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC, has endorsed Linda Stewart, Beth Tuura and Carlos Guillermo Smith in state races.

All the endorsements have gone to Democrats.

Stewart is running for Florida Senate District 13 against Republican nominee Dean Asher. Tuura is running for Florida House District 47 against incumbent Republican state Rep. Mike Miller. Guillermo Smith is running in Florida House District 49 against independent candidate Shea Silverman.

“We support these exceptional candidates because each of them has demonstrated steadfast commitment to equality for all citizens, and a work ethic that values the voices of constituents over the distortion of reality by the gun lobby,” Jason Lindsay, founder and Executive Director of Pride Fund, stated in a news release. “Floridians support common sense gun reforms, especially since the horror in Orlando, and they deserve representation in Tallahassee who will fight for the values and safety of American families over those of corporate gun manufacturers.”

The trio declared such in the Pride Fund’s release.

Tuura and Smith both are openly gay. Stewart long has been recognized by Orlando’s and Florida’s LGBT community as an ally.

“The hatred, bigotry, and homophobia that still exists in Florida has turned deadly thanks to easy civilian access to military-style assault weapons. I will not rest until we enact common-sense gun safety measures to protect our communities from gun violence and keep our neighborhoods safe” Smith stated.

“Our legislators are elected to represent the will of the people, but once in office, they bend to the will of the NRA leadership. There is overwhelming support for sensible gun safety laws nationwide. It is time we act. I support passing common-sense gun reform. We need to implement universal background checks, restrict access to high-capacity weapons and magazines, and make sure hate-filled people with a history of violence can’t obtain a gun” Tuura stated.

“I will do everything I can to fight for the safety and dignity of this community. I will sponsor a bill to restrict assault-style weapons, and I will push for harsher penalties for hate crimes. After a decade of service, you should know I will stand up and will never be silent; I am with you and you are my family.” Stewart stated.

Bill Rufty: A political rarity in HD 41 – Republican, Democrat agree

RuftyRepublicans and Democrats agreeing on a major issue – It seldom (if ever) happens lately in national politics.

But on a state level, Republican Sam Killebrew and Democrat Bob Doyel, competing for Florida House District 41, agreed on the critical issue of education in the state of Florida.

There are too many tests and perhaps not geared to finding children’s progress so much as to grade teachers or schools, they said in front of a Polk County Tiger Bay luncheon in Bartow Wednesday.

Both men, of course, support the state giving the vacant agriculture office building, Nora Mayo Hall, located in the district, to the city of Winter Haven.

District 41 covers the eastern portion of Polk County. It is currently held by Rep. John Wood, a Winter Haven Republican, who will have reached his eight-year term limit on Election Day.

Killebrew and Doyel each won their respective party’s primary, Aug. 30. No Democrat has won the seat since 1998 or any other legislative seat in the county for that matter.

The Democratic Party, not known for vigorous active campaigning for its candidates, is “pulling out the stops” for Doyel, a retired circuit court judge, because of the changing face of the district. More people who work in Osceola or Orange counties are among those moving into the northeast portion of the county.

But Killebrew is well-known for his contributions to the Republican Party both financial and through his candidate recruiting. A retired contractor, he completed several projects in the district.

They (state education officials) have tied teachers hands by all of this excessive testing, said Killebrew, whose wife teaches in the Polk County school system. His wife has helped him understand what changes are needed in Florida, he said.

“She says we need to get the federal government out and have mostly the state involved,” he said. “But we need to do testing by counties not one state standard test because there are differences,” he said.

Doyel gave a similar opinion on education and testing.

“We need to take a close look at testing. If that is what we call an education standard then we are in real trouble,” Doyel said

“The tests don’t take into account if the child is hungry or couldn’t sleep the night before because of poverty…or homelessness,” he said.

There were plenty of differences between the two men on other issues.

Unlike many Tiger Bay Clubs where members rise from the audience, sometimes in a confrontational manner that wastes time, Polk club members submit their questions in writing.

Asked for their opinion on legislation likely to come before the Legislation in 2017 that would allow people to openly carry a gun, Doyel said he is “adamantly opposed.”

Killebrew said 45 states allow open carry permits. Open carry permits are stricter and require stiffer checks he said.

Both men strongly disagree on a proposed medical marijuana amendment proposed for the state constitution.

“It should not be in the state constitution. This one is bad but not as bad as the one two years ago (which was defeated),” Killebrew said.

‘’It still is not handed out by pharmacies, but private shops and a caregiver can buy for up to five people,” he said.

Doyel said he, too, was opposed to the issue being a constitutional amendment such as the one outlawing the penning of pregnant pigs which was passed some years ago.

“I support it, but not just on medical marijuana,” Doyel said. “As former law professor, I am concerned about teenagers who get caught with a very small amount of marijuana and have their futures destroyed with prosecution.

“I think for those small cases there should be a citation,” he said.

On expansion of Medicaid coverage Killebrew is opposed and Doyel supports it.

With a question asking each candidate’s position on abortion, Killebrew said: “I am pro-life.”

Doyel said, “I wish it were that simple, but that runs counter to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.”

From a political junkie’s viewpoint, both candidates were almost too nice to one another.

Both wisely called for additional funding for citrus greening. Polk County dropped from first in production of citrus in the state to third and the main agriculture research center is located in District 41.

Florida Dems’ claim big voter registration drive advantage; yet racial splits widening

The Florida Democratic Party is reporting more than 221,000 new Democratic voters have been added to the state’s voter rolls during the first eight months of this year — 20 percent more than the number of new Republicans.

The gap is far wider among new voters who are black, Hispanic, or reporting “other” races on their voter registrations, according to a news release issued Tuesday by the FDP.

On the other hand, almost twice as many white people registered as Republicans than as Democrats between Jan. 1 and Sept. 1, according to numbers released by the Democrats.

Florida’s racial splits by party are widening.

Independent voters have both parties beat among new voters this year, however. The new numbers reported by the Florida Democratic Party show 244,000 new voters registered with no party affiliation or registered with minor parties, including a slightly larger number of Hispanic voters than Democrats attracted, a much larger number of “other” race voters, and a total of white voters that is close to, but still below, the number of new voters who registered as Republicans.

But the bottom line for Democrats is a widening overall advantage over Republicans in Florida.

With the latest counts there now are 5.21 million registered Democrats and 4.79 million Republicans in Florida, according to the FDP. Independent or minor party voters are creeping up on both parties’ totals, and they combine to add up to 3.69 million.

The latest voter registration efforts also accentuated the sheer dominance Democrats have over Republicans among black voters, and the increasing advantages with Hispanic and “other” race voters.

“As we head into the final months of the presidential campaign, Florida Democrats have managed to once again register tens of thousands more voters than Republicans,” FDP Executive Director Scott Arceneaux stated in the news release. “Democrats have out-registered Republicans by a 3-to-1 margin with Hispanic voters, a 20-to-1 margin with African-American voters, and a 2-to-1 margin among all other minority communities in Florida. Our field team has opened 57 offices throughout the state and has talked to hundreds of thousands of Floridians.”

So as of Sept. 1, 80 percent of the state’s 1.9 million black voters are Democrats, 16 percent are independents, and 4 percent are Republicans.

Among Florida’s 2.1 million Hispanic voters, 39 percent are Democrats, 35 percent are independents, and 25 percent are Republicans.

Among the 876,000 voters who identified other races, 44 percent are independents, 35 percent are Democrats, and 21 percent are Republicans.

But among the state’s 8.8 million white voters, 45 percent are Republicans, 29 percent are Democrats, and 27 percent are independents or pledged to minor parties.

Put another way: 64 percent of Florida’s registered voters are white; while 50 percent of registered Democrats are white; 61 percent of independent or third-party voters are white; and 83 percent of Republicans are white.

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