Democratic candidate for governor Gwen Graham now has snagged the endorsement of the U.S. House of Representatives’ second-highest ranking figure.
Graham’s campaign Tuesday announced House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer‘s endorsement. Graham, of Tallahassee, was Florida’s 2nd Congressional District’s congresswoman in 2015-17.
“After raising three children as a working mom, PTA president and public school official, Gwen Graham ran for office to get things done for hardworking families,” Hoyer said in a statement.
“Just like Washington, Tallahassee badly needs Gwen’s voice of reason, and I’m proud to enthusiastically support her campaign for governor,” he added. “Gwen is smart, disciplined, tough, caring and compassionate. She is the best candidate to win this race and the best qualified to serve the people of Florida as their next governor.”
Hoyer, 78, has been in Congress since 1981 and represents Maryland’s 5th Congressional District. He also was House Majority Leader in 2007-11.
“Whip Hoyer’s friendship and support were an incredible help in my first race and throughout my service in the House,” Graham said. “I’m honored to have his support again as we fight to repair the damage from the last twenty years of neglect and failed leadership coming out of Tallahassee.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Congresswoman Gwen Graham did one of her campaign “work days” at a Seminole County free clinic Wednesday and came away pledging to “help more Floridians receive care” if elected.
Graham volunteered as a health care navigator for at Shepherd’s Hope and spent her shift helping patients determine if they were eligible for clinic services. She also shadowed a patient from through the entire clinic experience, from intake to discharge.
“Working at Shepherd’s Hope was an eye-opening experience. I am heartbroken by how many Floridians depend on the clinic as a safety net for care, but inspired by the doctors and volunteers who give their time to help those in need. They provide care to people from all walks of life, from veterans to working families, and provide an invaluable service to our state,” Graham said in a news release.
After the work day — a campaign staple for both her and her father, Bob Graham — she also condemned Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for not expanding Medicaid, which she said: “literally cost Floridians their lives.”
“I don’t know how you could visit a clinic like Shepherd’s Hope and not want to expand coverage,” Graham said. “As governor, I will help more Floridians receive care.”
Shepherd’s Hope serves uninsured patients with an income at or below 200% of the poverty level. In 2016, the clinic saw more than 17,000 patients.
After thanking Graham for her visit, Shepherd’s Hope CEO Marni F. Stahlman also blamed Florida’s lack of Medicaid expansion for many “preventable and predictable” deaths and extended an invitation to all Florida elected officials to visit the clinic.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King declared Thursday that Florida can fight climate change and spur the economy, while he recounted forecasters’ worst fears for Florida if sea levels and temperatures rise as scientists project.
In a lengthy statement placed as a blog post on his campaign website, King outlined his concerns for weather, sea level rise, and economic impacts to Florida under projections for the next couple of generations, declaring, “fighting climate change could be the smartest investment Florida makes this century.”
The Winter Park developer of affordable housing touted his business successes and decried that Republicans always accuse Democrats of not understanding business or the economy.
King first must win a Democratic primary in which he is facing Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee. The leading Republican is Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, with other prominent Republicans mulling the race. Also considering a run is Democratic Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, whose city is literally Ground Zero for climate change risk.
“As someone who has built a business from the ground up during the biggest economic recession of our lifetime, I will tell any Republican opponent that I know how to grow Florida’s economy — and it’s not by ignoring climate change. In fact, fighting climate change could be the smartest investment Florida makes this century,” King stated in a news release.
In his post, King laid out foreboding projections, declaring, “Florida has the most property vulnerable to climate change-related flooding, with $69 billion of it at risk. Many of Florida’s coastal communities, including portions of Miami Beach and the Keys, will become chronically inundated with rising sea levels, flooding every other week on average.
“Climate change is also making storms more frequent and destructive, a trend that will only get worse. Storm-related losses will increase by an average of $1.3 billion every year until 2030, a cost which will rise to $4 billion by 2050,” King continued.
The secondary economic impacts would be statewide, affecting Florida’s agriculture, manufacturing, and energy, as average temperatures rise, he added.
King then attacked policies and positions of Florida Gov Rick Scott, particularly for reportedly banning mention of climate change or global warming in the state’s environmental agencies. He also criticized the Florida Legislature for doing too little to address changes.
“Florida needs a Governor who will tackle climate change and the threat it poses to our economy head on — not one who ignores it,” King stated.
He also attacked President Donald Trump for pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords, and accused Scott of “standing idly by.”
“If Florida were to invest in renewable energy for all energy needs, we would create more than 300,000 long-term jobs in those industries,” he continued. “By 2050, our state would save $41 billion per year in health costs resulting from air pollution, the equivalent of 1.8 percent of our GDP. Energy costs would decrease, energy efficiency would increase, and lives would even be saved.”
Among proposals he outlines in his statement, many of which he had previously announced:
– Banning fracking and off-shore drilling [though the drilling issue is in federal hands.]
– Investing in renewable energy solutions.
– Supporting hurricane research and disaster-relief funding.
– Conserving and protecting valuable lands and coasts, including through the land-purchase fund set up by constitutional amendment.
– Commit Florida to the national U.S. Climate Alliance and uphold the spirit of the Paris Agreement in Florida.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham described a private meeting a patient asked to have with her while she was performing one of her “workday” events at an Orlando free clinic Wednesday night, and said it reminded her that state budget priorities need to be reworked to be more caring.
The patient had been struggling to get medications he needed. In his private meeting Wednesday night with the Democratic former congresswoman who wants to be Florida’s next governor, he began to cry. She responded with tears of her own, she said.
He got what he needed at the Shepherd’s Hope clinic in Longwood, one of five Shepherd’s Hopes in the Orlando area that serves people who do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford medical insurance. The clinics serve thousands of patients, but still, on some days, must turn people away.
“These are good people who are facing real challenges all the time. But for places like Shepherd’s Hope, which is really their last hope, what would they do?” Graham said.
“We need to have people who want to make a difference in people’s lives, who really care,” she concluded. “We need to look at our state budget in ways that get our priorities back in place, caring for people… for the right reasons.”
Graham faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park affordable housing developer Chris King in pursuing the Democratic nomination to run for governor. She has spent much of her early campaign months pursuing the activity coined by her father, former governor and former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who spent “workdays” working other people’s jobs.
While the younger Graham has worked an occasional hard-labor workday such as installing solar panels on roofs, her focus so far has been on more social services, from education to health care. It’s a distinction working into her campaign them, which she described as offering someone the voters will get to trust to care about them.
It’s a theme both Gillum and King would insist they share, though Gillum is presenting himself more as the Democrat who has the courage to push Democratic values, and King as the Democrat who has succeeded in business while pushing Democratic values.
The leading Republican thus far is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who’s defining himself with strong conservative values.
On Wednesday night she spent four hours working at Shepherd’s Hope with the organization’s president, Marni Stahlman, and with Dr. Jamaal McLeod, normally an emergency room physician in Volusia County, and the rest of the all-volunteer staff.
Graham used the moment, as she did with her workday at a Jacksonville clinic earlier this month, to condemn Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Florida Legislature for refusing to accept the federal Medicaid expansion deal offered in the Affordable Care Act, a deal that would have provided health care to at least 800,000 uninsured Floridians, and billions of dollars to Florida, but also a longterm financial commitment to Florida.
She also pushed Wednesday night for other health care reforms, such as modernizing the state’s laws so that clinics such as Shepherd’s Hope, and ordinary doctors’ offices, could turn to telemedicine and other advances to offer specialist care.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum told Orange County Democrats Monday night that the party needs a Democrat with courage to espouse Democratic values if it wants a chance to win the governor’s office next year.
Gillum, speaking before perhaps 200 people gathered at the Orange County Democratic executive committee meeting, charged that Democrats have not been able to win the governor’s office because they have run candidates who show fear, who were not unapologetic advocates for the party’s values.
It is time, he said for leaders to have difficult conversations.
Gillum faces former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee and Winter Park developer Chris King for the Democratic nomination. The leading Republican at this stage is Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
“We need to go out there and tell people, tell people who it is we are, what believe in. that we believe in a strong public education system, that we believe in second changes, that if people make a mistake in their lives they should be able to come back, get a job and make a living for themselves and their families. We shouldn’t be afraid to tell people that we believe in science.
That drew applause.
“And that shouldn’t even be an applause line,” Gillum continued. He went on to describe the need for Democrats to lead the way in Florida on confronting global climate change, and encouraging solar energy, and to build 21st-century transportation infrastructure, and support for the LGBTQ community.
He also spoke of his battle, as Tallahassee mayor, to defend a city ordinance forbidding people from shooting guns in a city park. So far, Tallahassee has won court battles in the district and appeals level, against what he said was the gun lobby “that has run roughshod over public policy.”
“I said, we’ll see you in the Supreme Court, if that’s where you want to take us,” Gillum said. “You all, we have to stop rolling over and being afraid. The Second Amendment, the Second Amendment, the Second Amendment can sit side by side with common sense gun law reform.
“It will require us to stop being silent. What are we afraid of? Are our lives not important enough for us to stand up and say I deserve to be recognized to advocate laws to protect me and my children?” he said.
“We should be able to look into our children’s eyes to speak words of affirmation and hope and encouragement to them. And then to be able to rest at night that we’ve done the difficult work to make the hopes and aspirations of those children come true,” he added.
A governor, he said, should be measured by the answer to the question, “How are the children doing?”
Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham was in Jacksonville Monday, and while she was in town she snagged a couple of pivotal endorsements.
One of those endorsements: from the most powerful Democrat on the Jacksonville City Council, Finance Chair Garrett Dennis.
And the second endorsement: from the most popular Democratic Mayor in Jacksonville history, Jake Godbold.
Dennis, on hand for an endorsement event on Jacksonville’s Eastside, lauded Graham for her commitment to rights restoration for reformed felons.
“Gwen Graham believes every Floridian deserves a seat at the table throughout our state government and institutions. That’s why she’s fighting to make sure every child has a great public education, no matter where they live or where they come from. She’s fought to protect the vote and supports rights restoration,” Dennis asserted.
Godbold, who was not able to attend the event, said via statement that Graham would “invest in infrastructure to build on our city’s success and help Jacksonville grow in the 21st Century.”
Though the endorsement event did not go as planned, Graham made up for it with a freewheeling q&a with local media.
The greatest pyrotechnics came when she discussed medical marijuana, and the State Legislature’s lack of fidelity to the Constitutional Amendment passed in 2016.
“I am so sick and tired of the Florida Legislature not doing what the people of Florida have overwhelmingly said they want done,” Graham said regarding the smoking prohibition, putting MMJ in the same bucket with lottery money and Amendment 1 funds, which did not go to Forever Florida this year.
Graham noted the palliative effects of cannabis, and said that it is a “good replacement for opioids.”
Graham was also blunt in her appraisal of the “horrific” health care bill in the United States Senate, saying that “block granting was particularly bad for Florida.”
Graham did shy away from specific criticism of one of her primary opponents, scandal-plagued Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
When asked if he should get out of the race, Graham said simply that “Andrew is a friend and will make those decisions.”
Her answer did not vary appreciably on the followup.
Democrat Gwen Graham is adding eight new endorsements Friday in her quest to become the state’s next governor.
The endorsements announced by her campaign include a host of young and engaged grassroots leaders from across the state.
“I wake up every day focused on one mission: fighting for our shared values,” Graham stated in a news release issued by her campaign. “The passion and support of grassroots leaders from across Florida are fueling our fight, and I’m proud to have the support of these dedicated Democrats.
Graham is in a race for the Democratic primary for the 2018 election with Winter Park affordable housing developer Chris King and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. The one major Republican candidate is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
“After almost twenty years of Republican rule, our state is running out of time, Democratic National Committeeman and former Florida Democratic Party Vice Chair Alan Clendenin. “For too long, the politicians in Tallahassee have ignored the major challenges our state faces. I’m proud to support Gwen Graham in her campaign to renew our public schools, protect our precious environment and build an economy that works for every Floridian.”
Former Chair of the Jacksonville Planning Commission Lisa King said: “Gwen Graham is committed to protecting our state’s clean air and water. Florida is Florida because of our beaches and rivers, forest and springs. As governor, Gwen will fight to protect our natural treasures for generations to come.”
FDP Committee on Clubs Chair Beth McMillen said: “Florida’s environment is vital to our very way of life in this state — and no candidate understands that better than Gwen Graham. After watching Gwen rally the Florida delegation to restore the Apalachicola Bay and spend a Workday highlighting the threat of algae in our waters, I know Gwen will fight to save the Indian River Lagoon and all of Florida’s natural treasures.”
The list of new endorsements also includes:
– Former Florida Young Democrats Treasurer Andrew Bell
– Brevard County Democratic Veterans Caucus Chair John Frazier
– Former Florida Young Democrats President Shannon Love
– State Committeeman John Parker
– Democratic Progressive Caucus founding member and former Wakulla DEC Chair Rachel Pienta
– American Muslim Democratic Caucus Miami-Dade Regional Director Duysevi “Sevi” Miyar
Saying that Gov. Rick Scott has done little to address Florida’s opioid crisis compared with how counties and other states are responding, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum pledged Thursday to make it a major effort.
Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee, released a statement that offers several initiatives he said he will undertake if elected to take on a drug crisis that reportedly is killing 14 Floridians a day, 25 percent more drug deaths than the peak of the opiate pill crisis of a few years ago.
“Rick Scott’s devastating inaction on opioid abuse led to a state emergency, but even then, his response has been totally inadequate,” Gillum stated in a news release. “Once again, Florida has fallen behind other states in responding to a crisis.”
Gillum faces Winter Park developer Chris King and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee for the 2018 Democratic nomination to run for governor. The leading Republican in the race so far is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Gillum pledged to create a statewide task force, much like those set up in a number of Florida cities and counties including Orange County, and in 18 other states battling the heroin and related drug epidemic. Among other places with such task forces are Miami-Dade and Duval counties and the cities of Ocala, and Coral Springs.
He also proposed working with the Florida Legislature to create special opioid intervention courts much like one in Buffalo, N.Y., which would use accelerated hearings, daily accountability, and strict curfews to “reduce recidivism and save lives.”
And he pledged to press lawmakers to restore state mental health and substance abuse treatment funding, while working with Florida’s congressional delegation to secure current and additional federal funding.
“By establishing a statewide task force, we can learn from those most affected by opioid abuse and trafficking. We can direct resources exactly where they need to go. We can offer those struggling with addiction a pathway to recovery instead of prison. We can fund mental health like the priority it should be. And we can end this dark chapter hurting Floridians,” Gillum stated in the release.
Democratic state Sen. Jeff Clemons of Lake Worth, who earlier endorsed Gillum, seconded Gillum’s proposals.
“Our governor has been quick to proclaim emergencies over Zika and wildfires, but slow to react to an epidemic that killed 4,000 Floridians last year,” Clemons stated in the release. “Gillum’s proposals will focus energy, resources, and expertise into stopping this crisis. These are things our current governor should have already done.”
Russia issue not yet hurting GOP fundraising or giving Dems advantage
The saga regarding Donald Trump – Senior and Junior – and Russia continues with no end in sight. It began in January and now, following the latest “bombshell,” the 2016 Democratic nominee for vice-president, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, is throwing out the word “treason.”
To their credit, the Florida delegation is showing greater restraint. Weston Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz did call Donald, Jr. “a liar” and that his actions represent “the definition of collusion,” but the t-word remained in the holster.
Boca Raton Democrat Ted Deutch took the opportunity of the latest revelations to urge the House to vote on a sanctions bill against Russia already passed by the Senate 98-2. Deutch said in a release that “failure to act on this sanctions bill makes the Speaker complicit in the White House’s apparent efforts to repay Russia’s political favors.”
All of this this has got to be killing GOP fundraising, right? Or, at the very least, Trump must be providing sufficient fodder for Democrats to raise a ton of campaign cash to bludgeon Republicans with rhetorical vodka bottles.
Second quarter fundraising reports are due later this week, but the first two months show Trump is actually helping Republicans raise money. While the Russia story percolated, the Republican National Committee set a record in the first quarter.
The RNC raised more than $20 million in May and June, more than twice the amount of the Democratic National Committee. The National Republican Congressional Committee and Republican National Senatorial Committee also set first quarter records.
To be fair, the new administration at the DNC is not yet up to speed, but the message is clear that the Russia issue is not hurting the Republicans on the money end.
Russia will also have little effect on federal races in Florida. In addition to Bill Nelson’s re-election race, a few competitive districts will focus – and raise money – on the usual kitchen table issues.
Nelson is expected to report another strong quarter. Late Wednesday evening, the Orlando Democrat’s campaign announced he will report raising more than $2.1 million between April 1 and June 30. The $2.13 million haul, according to the campaign, comes on top of raising nearly $2.1 million during the first three months of the year. Nelson, according to his campaign, now has more than $5.1 million in the bank.
Candidates in swing districts have either released or leaked their second quarter numbers. Winter Park Democrat Stephanie Murphy, a target of national Republicans, raised $410,000 between April 1 and June 30, according to her campaign.
Kendall Republican Carlos Curbelo, targeted by national Democrats, had a big haul with $705,000 in the second quarter, leaving him with $1.1 million cash on hand, according to the Miami Herald. St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Crist, also a target of national Republicans, hauled in $550,000, according to Florida Politics.
The Herald also reported Bruno Barreiro, one of those seeking the seating of the retiring Miami Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, raised $176,000since his entry into the race in May. Numbers for Barreiro’s opponents were not available.
The old saying, “all politics is local” is likely to be true in all areas of the country, but especially in Florida.
Meanwhile, here are this week’s insights from the Beltway to the Sunshine State.
VP: Touched NASA equipment because “Rubio dared me”
Pence tweeted out from his official Twitter account on Friday that while he and Rubio were touring NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, the Florida senator had dared him to touch the surface of “critical space flight hardware” that had a sign saying “DO NOT TOUCH” taped to it.
Rubio responded jokingly that he had warned Pence that if he broke it, he owned it. NASA’s social media account tweeted back at Pence, telling him that touching it wasn’t a big deal, as they were going to clean it later anyway.
The vice president wasn’t done with the jokes, however.
“Okay…so this isn’t exactly the first time this has happened,” Pence tweeted, posting a photoshopped picture of himself touching a porcupine.
— Tweet, tweet:
Air Force backs moratorium on drilling in the Gulf
The U.S. Air Force supports extending a moratorium on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, according to a recent letter from David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, to Sen. Bill Nelson.
In theJune 27 letter to Nelson, Goldfein said he was writing in “whole-hearted support of a proposal seeking to extend the moratorium on leasing, preleasing or any other related activity in the area east of the Military Mission Line in the Gulf of Mexico.” Goldfein said the Air Force fully supports the development of domestic energy resources, so long as it is compatible with the military testing, training and operations.
“The moratorium on oil and gas leasing, pre-leasing, and other related activities ensures that these vital military readiness activities may be conducted without interference and is critical to their continuation,” he wrote.
“The moratorium is essential for developing and sustain the Air Force’s future combat capabilities,” he continued. “Although the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act’s moratorium does not expire until 2022, the Air Force needs certainty of the proposed extension to guarantee long-term capabilities for future tests. Emerging technologies such as hypersonics, 5th generation fighters, and advanced sub-surface systems will require enlarged testing and training footprints, and increased Air Force reliance on the moratorium far beyond 2022.”
Nelson, a long-time opponent of drilling near the coast, filed legislation earlier this year to extend the moratorium until 2027.
Rubio joins Coons in highlighting need for pediatric medical research
A briefing featuring experts from Nemours Children’s Health System and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia aimed to highlight the urgent need to include children in cancer research and precision medicine initiatives.
Sen. Rubio and Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, co-hosted and spoke at a policy briefing this week to highlight the need for pediatric medical research. The policy briefing came as the House was poised to take up a package in the coming days that could close a research loophole.
“Even though our technical capabilities have caught up to enable researchers to pinpoint similarities in adult and childhood cancer genomes, the law that prompts companies to examine the drug’s safety in children has not been updated,” said Rubio. “The pace of innovation is moving much faster than the ability of a republic to keep pace with.”
Rubio said the House could take up a package that included legislation — the RACE for Children ACT — to close what he called an “unintended loophole” this week.
Rubio — along with Republican Cory Gardner, and Democrats Michael Bennet and Chris Van Hollen — reintroduced the RACE for Children, or Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity for Children Act, in February. According to Rubio’s office, the bill would update the Pediatric Research Equity Act to reflect the latest advances in drugs, and has the backing of Nemours Children’s Health System, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, MD Anderson Cancer Institute, and more than 100 pediatric cancer advocacy programs.
“Now what this is, this is the result of a lot of hard work from a number of stakeholders, including our hosts here today. So this is an exciting step forward, but it is only one piece of the puzzle,” Rubio said this week. “With the launch of the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot and the All of Us Precision Medicine initiatives, we have a real opportunity to close the gaps between public policy and research with today’s technology. And we must all work together to ensure that as we close that gap, pediatric medicine in general and pediatric oncology in particular are not left out.”
Kate’s Law draws some bipartisan support within delegation
Just before the House and Senate went on their July 4 recess, two contentious bills came up for final votes in the House. One isKate’s Law, named after the murdered San Franciscan Kate Steinle, which calls for strict penalties for criminal aliens who return to the U.S. after being deported.
Virginia Republican Bob Goodlette was the bill’s sponsor with Fort Walton Beach Republican Matt Gaetz and Sarasota Republican Vern Buchanan among 17 co-sponsors. The bill passed 257-167 with 24 Democrats joining all but one Republican (Justin Amash of Michigan) voting in favor.
Among the 24 Democrats voting aye was Val Demings of Orlando, Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park and Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg.
That same day, the House also passed theNo Sanctuary for Criminals Act which, among other things, would withhold federal grant money for “sanctuary cities.” Goodlette was also the sponsor of that bill, while Gaetz and Buchanan were also co-sponsors.
It passed on a more partisan vote, 228-195. All Florida Republicans voted for it and all Democrats voted against it.
“Taxpayer dollars should not be going to jurisdictions that provide safe harbor to dangerous criminals,” Buchanan said while noting Steinle’s alleged killer was on the street because of sanctuary policies. “These two bills ensure we prioritize public safety.”
Also adding voice to his yes vote on both bills was Naples Republican Francis Rooney.
“It’s tragically too late to save the life of Kate Steinle, who was murdered by a 5-time deported criminal illegal alien with 7 prior felony convictions,” Rooney said in a statement. “We must deter illegal immigrants who have been convicted and deported, from re-entering our country.”
Single-payer health care becoming more popular with delegation Democrats
While Republicans try to unite on a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are not solidly behind a plan themselves. One idea floated in 2010, but gaining some traction recently, is the idea of single-payer health care.
Those signing on are Alcee Hastings of Miramar, Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens, Al Lawson of Tallahassee, Darren Soto of Orlando, Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Kathy Castor of Tampa.
While such legislation has almost zero chance of passing a Republican Congress, Castor told Florida Politics that now is the time to look for alternatives to bring down escalating costs of health care in America. The idea is polling better than in the past.
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in June found 53 percent, the highest ever, support single payer. The number of Democrats supporting it represents 52 percent of the Democratic caucus, but that is watered down by zero support from Republicans.
Gaetz’s beach ownership bill heads to House floor
Legislation overturning decades of federal government restrictions in the Florida Panhandle is headed to the House floor, after the House Committee on Natural Resources recently OK’d it.
Sponsored by Rep. Gaetz, the bill gives leaseholders in Santa Rosa Island the option to acquire fee simple title to their land. Melissa Nelson Gabriel with the Pensacola News Journal reports the bill would overturn restrictions put in place by the federal government when it deeded a portion of Santa Rosa Island to Escambia County after World War II.
The federal government transferred land that was part of the Santa Rosa Island National Monument to Escambia County in 1947. Since then, according to Gaetz’ office, Santa Rosa Island resident have been ineligible to own their land, only lease it. While businesses and residents of Santa Rosa Island initially only paid lease fees, Gaetz’s office said the rules have changed and residents are now required to pay both lease fees and property taxes.
“Residents of Santa Rosa Island have suffered under double taxation for years,” said Gaetz in astatement. “My bill will help lift this unfair tax burden, and will finally give Santa Rosa Island residents the ability to obtain titles to their property. As a Republican, I believe land ownership is a cornerstone of the American dream — and now, for Santa Rosa Island residents, it’s finally within reach.”
The bill would require Escambia County to turn over to Santa Rosa County the land it owns there within two years, thus eliminating confusion around county land ownership, said Gaetz’s office. It also calls on Escambia to preserve the areas of the conveyed monument land that are dedicated for conservation, preservation, public recreation access, and public parking.
Sen. Rubio has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.
“This is a team effort on the part of federal, state, and local governments,” said Gaetz. “This is how legislation is supposed to work. I am happy to hear that the bill will come to a vote soon, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and the Senate to make this long-anticipated goal a reality at last.”
Yoho defends Trump Jr.’s Russia meeting
Rep. Ted Yoho came to Donald Trump Jr.’s defense this week, saying a meeting with someone who might have information helpful to a campaign isn’t out of the ordinary.
“Keep in mind, she wasn’t an official for the Russian government, the way I understand it. She’s a lawyer — a Russian lawyer — and if somebody comes to us and says, ‘Hey, we’ve got information on an opponent,’ yeah, I think that’s an appropriate thing to do,” the Yoho Republican toldCNN’s Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room this week. “I don’t think it was inappropriate for what he did. If you’ve got information about an opponent running against you, wouldn’t you want that information to vet it, to see if it’s real information, and to use it accordingly? And you can’t do that if you don’t have the initial meeting.”
Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged this week that he met with a Russian lawyer, who he had been told might have information helpful to his father’s presidential campaign. The statement was issued in response toNew York Times reporting that Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about then-candidate Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with Natalia Veselnitskaya.
CNN reported that Veselnitskaya is a Russian lawyer who represents Russians who want to see an end of U.S. sanctions.
Yoho told CNN that he also would have probably taken the meeting.
“Do I think it’s appropriate? I think I probably would have done the same thing,” he said. “I mean, it’s opposition research and, you know, anybody that’s been in an election — you’re always looking to get the upper hand.”
— Tweet, tweet:
— DCCC spokesman Cole Leiter responds: “Congressman Yoho’s admission that he would have taken opposition research from Russians with ties to Vladimir Putin is outrageous. Sadly, Yoho is taking his cues from fellow Florida Republican, Congressman Brian Mast, who called Russian hacked material ‘open source,’ and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which actually used material hacked by Russians in their 2016 attack ads. Voters are looking for leaders, not opportunists who are willing to sell out the sanctity of our Democracy for cheap political points.”
Murphy, T. Rooney join West Point oversight board
Reps. Stephanie Murphy and Tom Rooney have joined the board overseeing the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, reportsScott Powers with Orlando Rising.
The two members — Murphy, a Winter Park Democrat, and Rooney, an Okeechobee Republican — were appointed in May to congressional seats on the academy’s Board of Visitors, which in many ways is the equivalent of a Florida university’s board of trustees.
TheU.S. Military Academy Board of Visitors keeps an eye on and considers the morale and discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters relating to the academy.
Both were appointed by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, and have indefinite terms. They join the board’s chair, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand of New York, U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, and six presidential appointees.
Crist named co-chair of economic task force
The St. Petersburg Democrat has been named a co-chair for the Blue Dog Coalition Task Force on Economic Growth for the 115th Congress. He is joined by Lou Correa of California.
The mission of the task force is to advocate policies that focus on creating a positive economic climate geared toward boosting economic growth and creating jobs. Among the goals are advancing policies that accelerate the economic recovery, create good job opportunities for middle class Americans and assisting small business owners as they work to grow their companies.
“While our economy continues to recover from the great recession, too many hardworking Americans still struggle to find good-paying jobs and entrepreneurs still face difficulties to secure loans needed to start or expand their own businesses,” said Crist in a statement. “It’s our job in Congress to work together to address these challenges, creating an environment that fosters economic growth.”
Blue Dog Democrats, who advocate some fiscally conservative policies, have not held much influence in recent years following the defeat of several prominent members, including north Florida’s Allen Boyd. By re-filling the pool with new members such as Crist and Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, coalitions with moderate Republicans may be possible – if leadership permits.
“The Blue Dogs are continuing their tradition of strong leadership on economic growth, fiscal responsibility, government reform and accountability, and national defense,” said Daniel Lipinski, the group’s co-chair for policy of Illinois.
Diaz-Balart tours Herbert Hoover Dike
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart toured the Herbert Hoover Dike with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and Hendry County officials to get an update on rehabilitation efforts.
“The rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike is a key step towards restoring the Everglades,” said the Miami Republican, who is the founder and co-chairman of the Everglades Caucus “In Congress, I will continue to work with our federal and local partners to ensure that critical rehabilitation projects like the Herbert Hoover Dike remain a priority and are adequately funded.”
Diaz-Balart, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, was able to secure nearly $50 million for repairs this year. Diaz-Balart was able to include $82 million for the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation project and $76.5 million for Everglades restoration in the energy and water bill for fiscal 2018.
“Florida is fortunate to have so many diverse natural treasures that have significant impacts on our local community” he said in a statement this week. “These funds will go towards the ongoing Everglades restoration work that is vital to the ecosystem’s preservation. Continued funding for the Herbert Hoover Dike is critical to the timely rehabilitation of the waterway.”
Diaz-Balart was joined by Col. Jason Kirk, the commander and district engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District; Clewiston Mayor Mali Gardner, LaBelle Mayor David Lyons, and Hendry County Commissioner Karson Turner.
“I’m glad that Mayors Gardner and Lyons and Commissioner Turner were able to join me on this tour to get a first-hand look at the progress being made,” said Diaz-Balart. “I particularly want to thank Colonel Kirk for his unwavering and steadfast leadership.”
Lake O Rural Health Network gets federal rural health grant
Rep. Diaz-Balart recently announced the health network received a $297,408 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. TheRural Health Network Development Program grant can be used to “provide support for networks of rural providers to integrate administration, clinical, technological and financial functions to improve health care delivery.”
“This grant will allow LORHN and local medical professionals to deliver a higher quality of care to its patients in Florida’s rural communities,” said Diaz-Balart in a statement. “I look forward to continue working with LORHN as they serve Southwest Florida.”
LORHN serves rural parts of Southwest Florida, including LaBelle, Clewiston and other areas of Hendry County.
Ros-Lehtinen calls on Germany to do more for Holocaust survivors
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wants German officials to do more for Holocaust survivors, calling on officials to “comprehensively address the medical, mental health and long-term needs of survivors.”
Last year, Ros-Lehtinen and other members of the Florida delegation called on Germany to provide more financial assistance to Holocaust survivors.Kevin Derby with Sunshine State News reported the group cheered with the country announced it would lift caps on assistance to survivors for home care.
Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement that last year both the House and Senate “unanimously agreed that Germany must do more to ensure that all Holocaust survivors can live their remaining years in the comfort and dignity that they deserve.”
“We urged our partners, Germany, to reaffirm its commitment to comprehensively address the medical, mental health, and long-term care needs of survivors by guaranteeing full funding to meet those needs. Now Germany has an opportunity to step up when it concludes its upcoming negotiations with the Claims Conference, and the Claims Conference leaders must recognize that Germany can do more for survivors,” she said in a statement ahead of annual negotiations between the government and the Claims Conference.
“Those leaders at the Claims Conference must not accept anything less than a comprehensive, permanent, and accountable commitment to fully fund survivors’ medically prescribed needs,” she continued. “Allowing once again for a modest increase when so much more is needed is not consistent with Germany’s past statements of responsibility, would defeat the purpose of the Claims Conference, and would tragically force tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors to continue to suffer when we all know the resources exist to provide the care and dignity that survivors worldwide deserve.”
Ros-Lehtinen urged the two sides to “do the right thing and not settle for anything less than what is really and truly needed.”
The good news for Republicans in the 2018 Florida Congressional elections is that Republicans have dominated not only the congressional elections, but also most elections statewide. The Republicans currently hold a 16 to 11 advantage in congressional seats.
The bad news for Republicans is virtually everything else. Most of the important election factors favor the Democrats.
Money has always been the lifeblood of politics, and Republicans have dominated partisan fundraising for over two decades. This is why the recent fundraising report is bad news for the Republicans. The Democrats raised $1.3 million more than the Republicans in the second quarter ($1.67 million for the Democrats and $338,00 for the Republicans). The total raised for the first six months of 2017 find the Democrats leading Republicans $3.5 million to $2.4 million for the Republicans. This is almost an apocalyptic sign.
The president’s approval rating is directly related to election success. President Trump started with the lowest approval ratings in modern history, and the only direction his ratings have gone is down. Trump’s approval is now in the mid-30’s, which will drag down many Republicans.
Trump’s poor ratings are tied to three primary events. His firing of FBI Director James Comey, his alleged ties of Trump and Administration officials to the Russian government in trying to impact the 2016 election results, and the strongly negative reaction by the public to the Republican effort to, “repeal and replace Obamacare.” Combine this with the failure of the Trump Administration to pass a single major piece of legislation, it is easy to see the dilemma facing Republicans in congress.
Another obstacle confronting Republicans is the impact of midterm elections. Since 1952, the president’s party has won majorities in only four of 16 midterm elections. Each of those four elections where the president’s party won contained unique circumstances that do not now exist.
In 1964 and 1976, Democrats won enormous majorities in the House that almost guaranteed losses in the next midterm election. LBJ racked up a large House majority as a reaction to the extreme positions of Goldwater and, in 1976, Democrats won a huge majority due to the reaction against Nixon and Watergate.
In 1962 and 2002, the majority party maintained control due to the popularity of their president. In 1962, President Kennedy’s popularity hovered around the 70% range due to the Berlin and Cuban missile crises. In 2002, President George W. Bush’s popularity rose to 60% due to 911 and the Afghanistan invasion. Presidential popularity almost always increases when there is an international crisis.
Since the Republican Party does not have a 2 to 1 majority like the Democrats had in 1964 and 1976 and, since the Republicans do not have a president with high approval rates such as occurred in 1962 and 2002, the conditions are good for a Democratic victory.
Finally, the generic ballot finds Democrats with a 7-point advantage, 44 to 37%. If the Democrats can maintain at least a five-point lead in the generic ballot, they should be able to flip the 24 seats needed to regain a house majority.
The opportunity is there for the Democrats. It was also there for them in the 2016 election, and look what happened. Opportunity does not guarantee success.
While the 58-year-old Naples Democrat has the backing of local Democrats and activists, he will face an uphill battle in the Southwest Florida congressional district. Rooney, the former ambassador to the Holy See, handily won his election in 2016, and the district — which covers part of Collier and most of Lee County — is a Republican stronghold.
Still, Holden isn’t letting that stop him. Hetold the Naples Daily News he plans to attack Rooney on health care and the environment.
The Naples Daily News reported Holden’s political activism stretches back to his parents, who were civil rights activists and were against the Vietnam War. He helped flip a City Council in White Plains, New York, through a series of campaigns and as the local Democratic party chairman during the late 1980s and ‘90s.
Holden moved to Naples two years ago.
Gov. candidate Chris King weighs in on “Trumpcare”
We know how the delegation Democrats feel about theGOP health care bill. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, both candidates for governor, make no bones about their distaste for the effort to “repeal and replace Obamacare.”
This week the other Democratic candidate, Winter Park Businessman Chris King, went on the record with a detailed critique of the legislation that is dividing Republicans. While the message is similar to what is heard in Washington, King presents his case in simple terms.
“First, it’s not a health care bill. It’s a massive tax cut bill paid for with huge cuts to health care,” he said in a release issued by his campaign. “Trumpcare is an attack on older Americans. Anyone over 50 will feel the draconian cuts most acutely.”
King makes the case the bill will allow “insurance companies to charge older Americans 5 times the amount they charge everyone else.” The Affordable Care Act allowed those companies to charge older Americans 3 times the amount.
“As governor, I will do everything I can to protect affordable, quality health care coverage for all Floridians,” he said.
Save the date
Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat and the 2016 Democratic nominee for vice president, will attend a fundraising reception for his re-election campaign at The Francis in Sarasota on July 23.
The event is being billed as a chance to meet Kaine and hear about strategies to “combat the policies coming out of the Trump administration.”
Watchdog looks into rapid rise by Ballard Partners DC operation
TheCenter for Public Integrity recently profiled the continuing rise ofBallard Partners’ Washington, DC office, as well as founder and President Brian Ballard. Stories featuring Ballard’s ties to President Trump are not new, but this one comes from an organization dedicating to “revealing abuses of power; corruption and betrayal of public trust by powerful public and private institutions using the tools of investigative journalism.”
Ballard “must ply his trade in the nation’s capital without looking as if he’s selling access to a president who has promised to stand up to special interests – a tricky course to navigate that has quickly tripped up other Trump alumni such as former campaign manager-turned-lobbyist Corey Lewandowski,”the story reads.
“There’s a lot of blurred lines, you know,” Ballard said. “It’s easy to say ‘oh, you’re a Trump person, you get this and that,’ but I don’t think it works out that way.”
Among the many interesting revelations from the article involves Ballard client Univision. Following the hostile relationship between the network and Trump (hethrew out correspondent Jorge Ramos from a campaign press conference), Univision has retained Ballard to “help mend the rocky relationship between Trump and the network.”
The Center for Public Integrity is led by Chief Executive Officer John Dunbar, the former chief investigative reporter for the Florida Times-Union and a graduate of the University of South Florida.
Murphy to lead Future Forum Foundation
Former Rep. Patrick Murphy has been tapped to serve as the chairman of a new political non-profit organization, which aims to identify solutions to the challenges facing millennials.
Dubbed the Future Forum Foundation, the group will raise and deploy resources to provide advocacy organizations, elected leaders and other forward-thinking individuals a platform to explore the changing dynamics facing young Americans. The group is expected to conduct research, hold events, and create partnerships with the private sector, young professionals and students.
“Now is the time for the next generation of leadership to step up and take the lead. I’ve seen first-hand the disconnect between the leaders who serve us and our changing young workforce. Millennials are at the heart of every critical issue facing our nation,” said Murphy, a Palm Beach County Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2016.
“They are defining the future of work. By gaining a better understanding of the economic uncertainty and the disruption caused by technology and automation, we can empower a new generation of leaders to find solutions.”
Trump nominates #FloridaMan as ambassador to Italy
President Donald Trump will nominate Vero Beach resident Lewis Eisenberg as the ambassador to Italy, reports Kristina Webb with the Palm Beach Post. Eisenberg will also serve concurrently and without additional compensation as the ambassador to the Republic of San Marino.
Eisenberg is the co-founder and managing partner of Ironhill Investments in New York, and is the former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Eisenberg also served on Trump’s inaugural committee and donated more than $35,000 to Trump’s presidential campaign.
He now faces Senate confirmation.
Backlash against bourbon?
The nation’s bourbon industry could take a hit if the European Union acts on a threat to respond to a blanket steel tariff being mulled by the Trump administration.
Amanda Holpuch with The Guardian reported recently that EU officials confirmed one of the targeted products could be bourbon, 95 percent of which comes from Kentucky. According to The Guardian, U.S. spirit exports to the EU were valued at $654 million in 2016, 20 percent of which was from bourbon.
Democratic candidate for governor GwenGraham is now making offshore drilling an issue in the race, calling out Republican candidate AdamPutnam for not opposing President Donald Trump‘s efforts “to expand drilling off Florida’s beaches.”
“Representing the Gulf Coast in Congress, I saw the long-lasting negative effects the BP oil spill had on our state’s economy,” she said in a statement. Graham represented the state’s 2nd Congressional District in 2015–17.
“It cost us jobs and hurt real Floridians,” she said. “Can you imagine a spill closer to our coasts? Banning drilling off our beaches is vital to our military, economy, and environment.
“Drilling will only benefit oil companies and Wall Street. Every Floridian, regardless of party, has a responsibility to speak out against Trump’s dangerous proposal.”
Here’s the rest of her release:
A report in Tuesday’s Tampa Bay Times highlighted the military’s opposition to drilling off Florida’s coasts, citing a letter from Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson[, a Democrat].
Goldfein wrote that the Air Force needs the certainty of a drilling ban to guarantee it can carry out its testing and training missions in the Gulf of Mexico.
While in Congress, Graham was the only Florida Democrat to serve on the House Armed Services Committee. She represented Tyndal Air Force Base and heard firsthand from Air Force generals and airmen who opposed drilling off Florida’s beaches.
“I was proud to stand up for our military in Congress, and, as governor, I will continue to fight for the bases and service members in Florida,” Graham said. “Open waters are vital to the Air Force’s operations. Limiting their mission could put our airmen at risk, endanger national security and cost our state jobs.”
Graham supported Nelson’s efforts to fight drilling and co-sponsored bipartisan proposals with Reps. Patrick Murphy and David Jolly to ban exploration off Florida’s beaches.
In stark contrast, Adam Putnam has flipped flopped on the issue over the course of his long career in politics.
In 2006, he led congressional Republicans in an effort to expand drilling as close as 50 miles from Florida’s beaches. And as Trump and congressional Republicans have pushed for drilling off Florida’s beaches, the gubernatorial candidate has remained silent on the issue.
“Adam Putnam shouldn’t have to wait for a poll or measure political winds to stand up to Trump. After 20 years in politics, it’s time for Putnam to put Florida first and oppose any drilling off our beaches, once and for all,” Graham said.