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Jeanette Nuñez’s anti-Trump comments are ‘non-issue,’ Ron DeSantis says

A running mate whose anti-Donald Trump comments surfaced after she was chosen by President Trump’s strong choice for Governor of Florida?

“That’s a non-issue,” U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis said of state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez Thursday.

DeSantis, who rode Trump’s endorsement from 10 points down in most polls to an easy Republican gubernatorial primary victory over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, introduced Nuñez of Miami to run for lieutenant governor on his ticket. And then he dismissed any notion that she at least once was a fervent member of the #NeverTrump wing of the Republican Party.

In at least one 2016 tweet, Nuñez called Trump a con man and accused him of supporting the Ku Klux Klan.

Water over the bridge of past elections, and that’s what you say in primaries when you like the other guy, Nuñez and DeSantis said on Thursday.

“We’re talking about moving Florida forward. Elections are elections. It is what it is. It’s no secret that I was a strong Marco Rubio supporter, but that election is done and I’m looking forward to this election,” she said, referring to Florida’s junior U.S. Senator.

“To support Marco Rubio, a favorite son, a Cuban-American, a historic run, to me, if I was in her shoes, I probably would have been supporting Marco as well. So that’s a non-issue,” DeSantis said.

Of course, DeSantis had cut no slack for Putnam after he also had said negative things about Trump during the 2016 election cycle. Putnam also supported a favorite-son candidate from Florida in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, former Gov. Jeb Bush. Putnam tried hard to walk it back during the primary campaign, while DeSantis ripped him repeatedly for his anti-Trump remarks in 2016.

That’s different, DeSantis insisted Thursday.

“He was running saying, like, he was basically Trump’s guy. And I just thought it was more insincere,” he said. “Jeanette is standing by what she said. She’s just saying it’s a different contest.”

Sean Shaw threatens to sue Donald Trump administration

Sean Shaw is making some bold promises in his campaign to be Florida’s next Attorney General, threatening to file or join multiple lawsuits against President Donald Trump and his administration.

“There is no room for corruption in the state of Florida,” Shaw said, speaking outside a Trump condo building in Sunny Isles Beach.

“The hundreds of millions of dollars in Russian shell company money that has been reportedly pumped into Trump properties in the past 20 years raises troubling questions about how the President is conducting his business.”

Shaw is referring to reports that Russians paid millions in cash for these properties. The area was even dubbed “Little Moscow” or “Little Russia” due to the amount of Russian buyers ready to pony up for space in these buildings.

Reports say some of those cash deals may have been done to funnel dirty money, though no wrongdoing has been found.

Pam Bondi had eight years to investigate Donald Trump,” Shaw said. “Instead, she took $25,000 from him.

Ashley Moody has promised to be an extension of Pam Bondi. Is that really what the people of the state of Florida need more of? No.”

Moody’s camp responded with a statement regarding her focus should she be elected.

“Ashley Moody will continue to speak to the issues important to Floridians, like supporting our law enforcement, addressing the opioid crisis and elder abuse,” said Nick Catroppo, Moody’s campaign manager.

“Floridians do not need to be distracted by partisan political rhetoric at a time when voters want someone who they can trust to defend the rule of law.”

Shaw also pointed to an ongoing lawsuit begun by several Attorneys General throughout the country, accusing Trump of violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. (The Washington Post has an explainer here.) Shaw promised to add Florida to the list of states suing Trump.

“President Trump is using the office of the presidency to personally enrich himself and those around him. This is unacceptable and potentially a crime,” Shaw argued.

“As Attorneys General are quickly realizing, we are the last line of defense against public corruption. Unlike [special counsel Robert] Mueller or members of the Department of Justice, the President can’t fire me.

“I only answer [to] and work for the people of the state of Florida. And they demand action and accountability.”

Shaw was asked whether he would wait for the Mueller investigation to conclude before using his power to sue the President. Shaw says he’ll be ready on his first day in office to challenge Trump.

“These are parallel investigations. The only thing I’m waiting on is to get elected. The minute we do, we’re going to start these investigations and join that lawsuit.”

Ron DeSantis picks Jeanette Nuñez as running mate

After much speculation, Ron DeSantis made it official Thursday: Rep. Jeanette Nuñez is his pick for Lieutenant Governor.

“Jeanette Nuñez is a strong, principled leader who will be an outstanding Lieutenant Governor for the people of Florida,” DeSantis said Thursday morning. “She has a proven record of leadership and legislative accomplishments, delivering for both her constituents in Miami-Dade and the state of Florida as a whole.

“Jeanette will help us build on our economic success, protect our environment and empower parents to make the best educational decisions for their children. I look forward to campaigning with her across our great state to secure Florida’s future,” he concluded.

The campaign announcement said Nuñez will join DeSantis for campaign stops in Orlando and Miami today.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve the people of Florida with Congressman DeSantis,” Nuñez said. “In South Florida, we know that by empowering the free market — not big government — we succeed as a state. Together, I know we can build an economy that works for all Floridians, protect our natural resources and provide every child a great education. I’m excited about sharing our message across the Sunshine State and bringing home a big win in November.”

Nuñez is the first female Cuban American to be named as a Lieutenant Governor nominee in Florida.

Nuñez initially shied away from running a statewide campaign but was urged to accept the role by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. She currently represents House District 119 in Miami-Dade County and most recently served as Speaker Pro Tempore in the Florida House.

Nuñez began her political career working for former state Rep. Alex Diaz de la Portilla before moving on to work in government affairs at Jackson Health System.

She returned to politics with a run for Florida House in 2010, which she won. Nuñez has been re-elected three times since, and had she not accepted DeSantis’ overture, she would have left public office on Election Day because of term limits, however, she is currently a candidate for Senate District 39 in the 2020 cycle.

Nuñez has shown her conservative bona fides, earning a 96 percent rating for the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a 93 percent rating from the National Rifle Association according to Vote Smart, which tracks candidates votes and positions.

But Nuñez also played a more moderate role at times, pushing for passage of a bill which would allow undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition rates at Florida public schools.

And in contrast to DeSantis, who has heavily embraced President Donald Trump, Nuñez was a bit more lukewarm on Trump when he was a candidate in 2016.

Nuñez served as one of 99 delegates from the state of Florida to participate in the GOP nominating convention. In an interview with Jim DeFede on CBS Miami’s Facing South Florida, Nuñez talked about her role as a delegate ahead of that convention.

“I was not an early Donald Trump supporter,” said Nuñez, who originally supported Rubio for the nomination. “In all honesty, he wasn’t my pick. He wasn’t, probably, my second or third choice.”

Still, she said her duties as a delegate bound her to vote for Trump, as discussions of a possible “Dump Trump” rebellion were had ahead of the convention in Cleveland.

“He won our state resoundingly and I think that we have an obligation to respect the will of the voters even if we don’t necessarily like it or agree with it,” said Nuñez at the time. “I have a job as a delegate that I need to sort of separate from, perhaps, my personal views.”

And Nuñez did make clear she supported the party coming together in support of Trump’s general election campaign.

“I think ultimately, [the convention will] be just a really great opportunity for the party to get behind the nominee and move forward.”

“She’s someone I’ve been a big fan of for a long time,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who lost by 20 points to DeSantis. He said he hasn’t given much thought to what he’ll do when his term as agriculture commissioner expires in January.

Shortly after the Nuñez pick became official, the Florida Democratic Party noted that she “hit the panic button” and deleted a 2016 “NeverTrump” tweet.

Nuñez Tweet

“In the Republican gubernatorial primary, DeSantis repeatedly attacked Adam Putnam for making very similar anti-Trump comments during the 2016 election,” FDP said in an email asserting DeSantis “botched” his LG announcement. “The fact that the tweet wasn’t deleted before Nuñez’s rollout raises questions about why the DeSantis team didn’t properly vet their running mate — and is just the latest setback for a campaign that has been struggling with poor fundraising numbers and a candidate who hasn’t held a campaign event in days.”

Some material from the News Service of Florida is used in this article, with permission.

Marco Rubio kept cool and won by a knockout

Don’t you wish Marco Rubio had just turned around and popped that InfoWars doofus Alex Jones right in his piehole?

I sure do.

I’ll bet Alex Jones was hoping for that too.

I’ll bet he was praying to be arrested.

It would have been ratings gold.

But Rubio, Florida’s junior U.S. Senator, handled his confrontation with that graceless twit in the U.S. Senate halls Wednesday the way a civilized person should and won by a knockout without throwing a punch. Jones will have to settle for being tweeted around the world and being a hero again to the residents of Wingnut Nation.

Yes, I said it.

If you listen to Alex Jones on the radio or internet for anything other than amusement, or if you think one scintilla of what he says is true, you might be a wingnut.

It’s probably a good time to remember that President Donald Trump, has said of Jones, “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.”

When the Founding Fathers decided freedom of speech is important, I’m not sure they imagined someone like Alex Jones would come along and spout that the Sandy Hook massacre of school children, the Oklahoma City bombing, and 9/11 were either hoaxes or inside jobs by the government.

Actually, the question of freedom is what started Wednesday’s confrontation.

Rubio was speaking with reporters about his concerns that China is suppressing sites like Facebook and Twitter, and thus eroding free speech. Facebook and YouTube have banned Jones and Twitter may eventually do the same.

So, Jones crashed the news conference and yelled, “The Democrats are doing what you say China does” as part of a movement to stifle conservatives.

“Republicans are acting like it isn’t happening,” Jones shouted. “Thank God [President] Trump is.”

Jones is free to say whatever he wants — no matter how hurtful or damaging. There are a lot of ways for Jones to be heard. And with an audience his size, I’m not sure he can make much of a case for being suppressed.

It’s tempting to write him off as a carnival clown, but Jones is a leading spreader of paranoia about the so-called Deep State. The scary part of that is, a statistically significant number of people believe it exists.

A Monmouth University poll in March found there is “a large bipartisan majority who feel that national policy is being manipulated or directed by a Deep State of unelected government officials.”

Trump has complained about the Deep State being at work in the Russia investigation and other areas.

In June, Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz complained that House Speaker Paul Ryan was siding with the Deep State for defending the FBI’s contention it did not embed a spy in Trump’s presidential campaign.

When Ohio Congressman and Trump supporter Jim Jordan was under scrutiny for allegedly keeping quiet about accusations of sexual misconduct by a team doctor at Ohio State when Jordan was a wrestling coach there, he blamed … yeah.

Deep State.

Anyway, it was refreshing to see Rubio win the day by warning Jones, “Hey don’t touch me again, man, I’m asking you not to touch me” after he was patted on the shoulder by the boor.

I still wish Rubio had punched him.

Sure, it would have wrong. But it would have been epic.

No jury of sane people would have convicted him.


Joe Gruters holding Tallahassee fundraiser for SD 23 bid

Sarasota Republican Rep. Joe Gruters will be raising cash in Tallahassee later this month for his bid to succeed Greg Steube in Senate District 23.

The Sept. 18 reception will be held in the library of the Governors Club, 202 South Adams St., from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Those looking to attend can direct their RSVPs to Kristin Lamb via or 850-339-5354.

Gruters is the chair of the Sarasota County Republican Party and also served as co-chair Donald Trump’s Florida campaign. He was elected to House District 73 two years ago in a blowout win against Democratic nominee James Golden.

Before Gruters’ House re-election campaign got fully underway, there was a seismic shakeup in the Sarasota delegation caused by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney’s announcement that he would not seek re-election in Florida’s 17th Congressional District.

Steube, just two years into his first term in the state Senate, and Venice Rep. Julio Gonzalez declared for the race and Steube ultimately won the Republican nomination with ease.

Still, that left SD 23 open and gave Gruters the opportunity to make the jump to the state Senate years earlier than he would otherwise. His only opponent in the Republican-leaning seat is Democratic nominee Faith Olivia Babis.

As of Aug. 23, Gruters had more than $115,000 in hard money in the bank with another $13,000 or so in his affiliated political committee, Friends of Joe Gruters PC. When Gruters files his next round of reports, he’ll show at least $3,500 in contributions thanks to state Rep. Ben Albritton helping out fellow Republican Senate candidates last month.

Babis, meanwhile, has only raised a little over $25,000 for her campaign and has about $5,000 in the bank. Her lax adherence to state campaign finance laws earlier on in the race led to the Florida Division of Elections levying some hefty fees against her, though they are currently being appealed by elections attorney Mark Herron.

SD 23 covers all of Sarasota County and a portion of coastal Charlotte County. Trump carried the district by 15 points two years ago as Steube defeated Democratic challenger Frank Alcock 59-41 percent.

Election Day is Nov. 6. The fundraiser invitation is below.

Ron DeSantis camp hammers Andrew Gillum for hiding truth about NYC, Costa Rica trips

On Tuesday evening, the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum urged Republican rival Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump to “stop demonizing the FBI,” regarding its “probe into Russian electoral collusion and interference.”

“Congressman DeSantis and President Trump should allow the agency to do its work,” Gillum said.

“Here in Florida, we’ve done everything we can to aid the agency, while Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump have done the exact opposite — demonizing the FBI and making the case that collusion is not a crime,” Gillum added.

Gillum, who spent much of last weekend addressing the FBI investigation in Tallahassee, looked to quell that perpetually bubbling controversy as Tuesday ended with what was intended to be a story-wrapping media release.

However, the DeSantis campaign believes the story is only just beginning.

“It becomes clearer by the day why the FBI is interested in Andrew Gillum and his associates. These receipts do nothing to shed light on his luxury trips to Costa Rica and New York City with lobbyists and undercover FBI agents. In fact, they simply raise more questions about Gillum’s ongoing involvement. The people of Florida deserve answers, and Andrew Gillum keeps refusing to provide them,” spokesman Stephen Lawson said Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday morning, the DeSantis camp continued to press its position on an “incomplete” release of data.

“Gillum’s campaign released partial receipt documentation from his trips to Costa Rica and New York City with lobbyists and undercover FBI agents. This comes after weeks of Gillum promising to release them, and amidst an ongoing ethics investigation into the trips by the state commission on ethics,” the campaign contended.

The Mayor released long-promised receipts and calendars from personal trips to New York City and Costa Rica, along with what the campaign calls “unprecedented email and searchable calendars released previously this year to news media and the public.”

The receipts are not all-encompassing. The DeSantis campaign points out omissions.

Regarding the New York City trip, airfare is not receipted. Likewise omitted: proof of payment for a ticket to “Hamilton” (which Gillum claims to have gotten from his brother), a ticket for a Statue of Liberty boat ride (“organized and attended by undercover FBI agents”, per DeSantis’ camp), receipts for trip expenditures, and proof of payment for the hotel.

Regarding the Costa Rica jaunt, there is no proof of purchase for Gillum’s plane ticket, nor is there a breakdown of how much “cash” Gillum paid for his part of the trip.

“His receipt simply shows a $400 cash withdrawal, but this raises even more questions. If he actually paid his and his wife’s fair share of the trip, it would be more than $400,” the campaign notes, adding that “Adam Corey’s lawyer has since refuted even this premise by saying ‘to date Mr. Corey has not received any cash from the mayor.'”

The Gillum campaign contends that Gillum is not a “subject” of the FBI investigation, and frames the Mayor’s involvement as peripheral.

Regarding dealings with subpoenaed friend and lobbyist Adam Corey, the campaign allows that Gillum found out after the fact that his brother Marcus scored a Hamilton ticket from Corey, and that “per normal procedure, Corey sent Gillum an official calendar invitation for a meeting in Tallahassee on May 16, 2016. Gillum agreed to the meeting in order to discuss City business.”

For the DeSantis camp, buffeted for a week with criticism after the candidate said electing Gillum would “monkey” up the progress the state has made in the Rick Scott era, Gillum’s inconsistencies on this issue feel like a winning campaign issue.

“When it comes to Andrew Gillum’s Tallahassee dealings, his dizzying web of deception is quickly entangling his bid for Governor. The voters of Florida — and the FBI — are catching on quickly, and it won’t be long before Gillum is simply forced to answer,” the DeSantis campaign asserts.

Analysis: ‘Blue wave’ could sweep up HD 89, boost Jim Bonfiglio

Now that the general election matchups are set in stone, Democrats have their eyes on several GOP U.S. House seats come November.

But some state races are showing signs they could flip as well, including House District 89 in Palm Beach County.

The contest is open as current state Rep. Bill Hager is term-limited. Last month, Ocean Ridge Mayor Jim Bonfiglio earned the Democratic nomination, while accountant Mike Caruso won the GOP nod.

Caruso embraced Donald Trump “bigly” in his primary race against Matt Spritz. The two traded barbs throughout the contest over who was the bigger Trump supporter.

Spritz hit Caruso for accepting money from a lawyer who had filed a lawsuit seeking to declare President Trump “incompetent.” Caruso fired back at Spritz after an old quote from Spritz resurfaced where he essentially declared himself a “never Trumper” during the 2016 campaign.

With Caruso the last (Republican) man standing, will his support of Trump help him turn out voters on Nov. 6? Or will it be a classic example of pushing to win the primary at the expense of the general election?

The enthusiasm gap is always given a hefty amount of attention leading up to the midterms. If Caruso’s goal is to motivate the Republican base to show up on Election Day, his strong showing of support for the President could do the trick.

While Trump has had historically low approval ratings throughout most of his time in office, his support among Republicans has hovered close to 90 percent for a while now.

Trump’s overall ratings are dragged down by disapproval from Democrats and Independents, and Democrats’ dislike of Trump is surely a factor in their high enthusiasm levels ahead of the midterms. It may be difficult for Caruso to win over those voters, so tying himself to Trump could help Caruso combat Democrats’ enthusiasm by compelling GOP voters to turn out on his behalf.

Or, it could push Democrats to turn out at even higher levels.

HD 89 was one of only six districts in the entire state to flip from voting for Mitt Romney in 2012 to supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to an analysis by MCI Maps. If that aversion to Trump has strengthened in the ensuing two years, that could spell trouble for Caruso.

However, Caruso does have the advantage of running to replace Hager, a Republican who ran unopposed in 2016. Hager has represented the district since 2010. That shows there is enough of a base of GOP support to push Caruso into the legislature into November.

But there’s a catch as well. While Hager did not face opposition in 2016, he survived tough challenges in both 2012 and 2014.

Hager won by just 5.4 percentage points in 2012. That margin dropped to 5 percentage points in 2014. If the political winds have shifted in favor of the Democrats in 2018, that gap could be closed, with or without Caruso’s strong defense of Trump.

Bonfiglio also maintains a lead in cash on hand, according to the most recent filings with the Florida Division of Elections. Bonfiglio holds just under $90,000, with Caruso sitting at just under $80,000.

Caruso has raised more money overall, earning more than $72,000 in outside donations. That nearly doubles Bonfiglio’s mark of $36,500. Both candidates have also loaned their campaigns about $200,000. But Caruso’s sizable expenditures during the primary have left him with slightly less cash for the general as it stands right now.

Democrats also turned out more voters in last month’s primary elections, beating out Republicans 12,437 to 12,028. Though there’s no guarantee that pattern will repeat on Nov. 6, it’s certainly not a bad sign for Democrats’ chances.

There’s still more than two months to go before the vote, meaning plenty could change between now and Nov. 6. But HD 89 is a race to keep an eye on, as it looks to be one of the more competitive state House elections in 2018.

Democrats pack house for African American voter turnout summit

The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) says a Broward County summit this past weekend, aimed at wooing volunteers to help mobilize voter turnout among African Americans, reached maximum capacity with all 75 spots filled.

Party leaders say the sold out event is yet another sign of a “blue wave” in 2018.

“The energy is unmistakable, and it can be seen in the number of first-time volunteers we have stepping up to attend these trainings,” said Democratic Black Caucus of Florida President Lydia Hudson.

“The fact that we had a packed room on the Saturday of a holiday weekend shows just how motivated our community is, and it is our job to get them mobilized, which is what we are doing at these summits.”

Saturday’s event was held at the Northwest Federated Women’s Club in Fort Lauderdale. It was the second of six statewide events to be held in partnership by the FDP and the Democratic Black Caucus.

A statement by the FDP says these summits are “a part of the party’s larger strategy to mobilize and train volunteers in African American communities to increase voter turnout.”

The events focus on ways to reach out to potential African American voters, as well as methods of voter protection.

Saturday’s session also featured a panel hosted by U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon II and state Rep. Bobby DuBose.

The panel was called, “What’s at Risk: Black America and Trump,” and focused on what FDP sees as the stakes of the 2018 elections.

The next of these events will be held in Tampa on Sep. 22, though a final location has not yet been determined, according to the FDP website.

Advisers say Joe Biden to decide on a 2020 run by January

Shortly after Joe Biden boarded a recent flight from Washington to New York, a string of passengers began stopping at his seat in coach to deliver some version of the same message: Run, Joe, run.

“We’re with you,” one said, according to a Democratic strategist who happened to be on the plane and witnessed the scene. “You’ve got to do this,” said another.

Biden himself is more conflicted — but he is listening keenly to the supporters pushing him to run for the White House in 2020. Biden is convinced he can beat President Donald Trump, friends and advisers say, and he has given himself until January to deliberate and size up potential competition for the Democratic nomination, according to people who have spoken to the former vice president about his decision-making.

In the meantime, Biden diligently maintains a network of supporters in key states, a group 30 years in the making, while some of those competitors are still making introductions.

As he takes each careful step, Biden faces the same dilemma. For an elder statesman in a leaderless party, one who long envisioned himself in the top job, the pull toward another presidential bid is strong. But the 75-year-old former vice president must weigh the realities of jumping into a crowded primary full of up-and-comers eager to debate the future of the party.

“He is not someone who needs to run to cement his place in history. He’s not someone who needs to run to feel he’s making a significant contribution to the public discourse and the Democratic Party,” said Anita Dunn, a former adviser to President Barack Obama. “But he is someone who, at the end of the day, feels a great deal of responsibility to listen to those people who are urging him to run.”

Biden would likely cast a long shadow, but a candidate Biden is not expected to clear what will be a crowded field of aspiring presidents in 2020. He would have competition for the support of the Democratic establishment. And he would almost certainly face tough challenges from the left — the source of much of the party’s energy at the moment — possibly from liberal firebrands Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Biden would likely cast himself as a more centrist Democrat with working-class appeal, bipartisan credentials and grounding in a more civil political culture that has faded in the Trump era, said Jim Margolis, a top adviser to Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

“He would carry the imprimatur of the Obama administration in addition to occupying a space in the middle that isn’t as crowded as others who are more actively running,” said Margolis.

He hit those themes gently at a memorial service for his late Senate colleague, Republican John McCain, last week.

“I always thought of John as a brother,” Biden said. “We had a hell of a lot of family fights.”

Biden has eyed the presidency for more than 30 years, waging a failed campaign for the party nomination in 1988 and again in 2008, before Obama named him his running mate. He passed on running again in 2016 as he dealt with his son Beau’s battle with brain cancer. The younger Biden died in March 2015, as the Democratic campaign was taking shape.

Since leaving the vice president’s office he has emerged as among the party’s most popular national figures, and one of its most willing Trump adversaries.

Biden is in regular talks with a small team of longtime friends and advisers. He also talks to potential donors and longtime staff about the possibility of another campaign. However, he has also signaled to them they are free to ally with other prospective candidates, as he eyes a January timeframe for deciding on whether to run, according to three people familiar with Biden’s thinking who spoke to The Associated Press about his plans on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.

That leaves Biden for the next two months as one of his party’s most sought-after 2018 campaign headliners. He plans to make multiple campaign stops a week this fall for Democratic candidates, according to people familiar with the plans.

“As the vice president has said many times himself, he is focused on electing as many Democrats as possible all across the country and on encouraging people to get out and vote this fall,” Biden adviser Kate Bedingfield said. “That’s the focus of his energy right now.”

Biden’s choices so far have shown off his deep ties to key early states. He has campaigned for a young former aide now running for Congress in northeastern Iowa, a part of the state with enduring personal loyalty to Biden but that swung toward Trump in 2016.

He recently penned an op-ed in The Des Moines Register eulogizing the late Rep. Leonard Boswell, an act that was not political but at the family’s request, according to aides.

In South Carolina, Biden endorsed the Democratic nominee for governor, as well as longtime friend and former South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian, a state Senate candidate.

“If he wants, the day he says he wants to be running for president, he would have a built-in network here,” Harpootlian said. “He’s got friends here going back 30 years.”

Not all early-state party activists are clamoring for Biden Part III.

What’s left of his New Hampshire network, for instance, is fragmented, aging and undecided heading into 2020, said John Broderick, state chairman of Biden’s first campaign. Though Broderick, now 70, said his own family would gladly support Biden again, many in Biden’s New Hampshire support network “are getting longer in the tooth like I am.”

Likewise, Iowa Democrat Mary Maloney, a leading campaign activist for both of Biden’s campaigns, said she would support him, but wondered if younger voters would roll their eyes at yet another Baby Boomer candidate. “I don’t know if a lot of young people get Joe Biden,” said Maloney, who is 63.

For that reason, Biden certainly wouldn’t block younger prospects from stepping forward, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said.

“There’s a lot of young talent within the party that would like to run themselves,” he said.

All that aside, Margolis, who is in touch with Biden’s team, said, “I’m pretty confident that he and his closest advisers legitimately believe he has a real shot at this.”

Aboard the same New York shuttle in July, Margolis witnessed the unscripted reaction Biden received.

“Just watching on the plane, one after another coming up to him,” Margolis said. “Joe Biden was the happiest guy in the world.”

Republished from The Associated Press, with permission.

Rick Scott campaigns with Jenniffer González-Colón, Puerto Rican leaders in Miami

Jenniffer González-Colón, the resident commissioner representing Puerto Rico in Congress, rallied with other island leaders behind Gov. Rick Scott’s Senate bid today.

Scott held a news conference this morning at the Wingate by Windham Miami Airport where a dozen leaders from Puerto Rico appeared and endorsed the Republican candidate, who is challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the Nov. 6 general election.

“It has been an honor to work alongside Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón and Puerto Rico’s elected officials to support Puerto Rico’s ongoing recovery,” said Scott, “and ensure Puerto Rican families here in Florida have the resources they need to succeed.”

González-Colón, a member of the Republican Party, spoke on social media in Spanish about her support, saying that Florida’s governor showed his human quality in reaching out to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island nation and has opened the doors for those leaving Puerto Rico who chose Florida as their new home.

The other leaders backing Scott included: former Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño; Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives Johnny Mendez; former Speaker of the Puerto Rico House Jose Aponte; Puerto Rico Reps. Eddie Charbonier, Michael Abid Quiñones, José Quiquito Meléndez, Lourdes Ramos, Manuel Claudio, Jackie Rodriguez and Milagros Charbonier; and Puerto Rico Committeewoman Zoraida Fonalledas.

González-Colón, the first woman ever elected as Puerto Rico’s lone, non-voting representative in the House, formally endorsed Scott back in May.

“They say that hard times will always reveal true friends, and I cannot think of a better friend to the American citizens of Puerto Rico than Governor Scott,” she said then.

The storm, of course, could have huge impacts on Florida politics, as displaced residents move to Florida. As U.S. citizens, those who move their voter registration to the state will have the right to vote in elections this year.

That’s generally been seen as potentially beneficial to Democrats, especially as President Donald Trump’s administration comes under fire for its response to hurricane recovery.

Puerto Rican officials last week amended the number of confirmed deaths from last year’s storm from 64 to 2,975. And other Puerto Rican leaders have become involved in Democratic politics in the state.

Gov. Pedro Rosselló in June endorsed Nelson, for example.

But the disdain among Puerto Rican voters for Trump does not seem to extend to Scott.

In July, a poll by Florida International University found 75 percent of Puerto Rican transplants to Florida held a favorable view of Scott, compared to just 62 percent with a favorable view of Nelson.

Scott made more than a half dozen official visits to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Maria, and at the Saturday event also raised the economic relationship between Florida and the island.

“We have worked hard to help our neighbors in need and create a booming economy that provides opportunities for every family in Florida,” he said.

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