Gwen Graham Archives - Page 3 of 29 - Florida Politics

Mitch Perry Report for 11.17.16 — Will there be a Democrat ready to challenge Nancy Pelosi?

If it were up to Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Caucus would be voting for their leadership later today, where she would win another term as House minority leader, since there is no opposition to her leadership role.

Not yet, anyway.

In an ominous note for the 76-year-old representative from San Francisco’s Pacific Heights, dozens of rank-and-file lawmakers at a closed-door meeting earlier this week called on her to delay leadership elections for a couple of weeks.

Although their chances to retake the House last week were always slim, the Democrats did underperform in House races, and the question now is — can the opposition get behind one candidate by the time they do sit down to vote on leadership Nov. 30?

As of now, only Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan from outside of working-class Youngstown has emerged. “Who is the leader that can go into those Southern states, who is the leader that can go into the Midwestern states and begin to pull those voters back in our corner?” Ryan told the Wall Street Journal. He hasn’t officially decided to run. “A guy like me — it doesn’t have to be me — a guy like me could go into the Southern states, and we need someone who can go into every congressional district.”

There are also reports New York Rep. Joe Crowley is also interested in running against Pelosi.

The last time Pelosi was as vulnerable was in the aftermath of the 2010 midterms, when the Democrats were “shellacked,” in the words of Barack Obama.

Working in Pelosi’s favor is her formidable reputation as a fundraiser. She has raised a reported $568 million for fellow Democrats since taking over as House Democratic leader in 2002. Representing San Francisco is literally a turnoff for the same Democrats who worry the party has become a party of professionals and not the working class. The cost of living in SF has exacerbated dramatically in just the past five years due to the explosion of Google and other Silicon Valley workers who’ve chosen to move to the city and commute to the peninsula.

Mind you, this is a different discussion than who will head the Democratic National Committee, where it appears to be a battle between Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison and South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jamie Harrison.

In other news …

Bob Buckhorn says it’s time for some serious reflection for Democrats in Florida and around the nation following last week’s election.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Lois Frankel want Steve Bannon out of the White House before he ever gets into it.

After waiting for weeks, Gwen Graham finally receives emails from the DEP regarding the Mosaic sinkhole in Polk County, and still isn’t satisfied.

As mayors and police chiefs from some of the biggest cities in the nation say they’ll continue to shield undocumented immigrants from being detained, Sarasota GOP Congressman Vern Buchanan once again calls on a ban on federal funds for all such municipalities. 

After an eight-year run on the Hillsborough County Commission that even his fiercest critics must acknowledge was extremely productive, Kevin Beckner is officially no longer a politicianafter he served his last day on the board on Wednesday.

Shawn Harrison is backing Jim Davison in the Tampa City Council District 7 race.

A new report says USF’s “Innovation Enterprise” contributes close to $395 million to the Tampa Bay area economy, according to a new report issued Wednesday.

Bob Buckhorn says it’s a time for soul searching in the Democratic Party

Lifelong Democrat Bob Buckhorn admits it’s been rough adapting to a world where Hillary Clinton won’t be the next president. The Tampa mayor went all-out for the party’s presidential nominee, including a weekend winter trip to New Hampshire just days before the first primary in the nation last February. And while Clinton did take Hillsborough County (along with the other major metropolitan areas of Florida), she lost the exurban and rural areas big time in ultimately losing to Donald Trump by just 1.2 percent in the Sunshine State last week.

Both the national and state Democratic party are in crisis, with the Democratic National Committee and Florida Democratic Party to decide on new leadership in the coming months. Like so many other Florida Democrats, Buckhorn has been here before.

“Obviously anytime you have a loss like this, there’s going to be a lot of teeth gnashing and soul searching,” the mayor said Tuesday.

“There will be a debate at the national level as to whether or not you move to a more progressive agenda, with people like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders; or do you try to come back to the center a la Bill Clinton in 1991 and 1992 to drive a message that the middle class mattered, that those rural white working class folks that he could talk to so well have got to be included in the discussion, that it’s not just driving up minority participation but have a message that resonates with everybody.”

Although he didn’t tip his hand as to where he comes down to the different approaches that will no doubt be debated by Democrats going into the holiday season, the mayor historically has come down on the centrist side, and has previously argued that is the only way to win statewide in Florida.

Buckhorn says the conversation needs to begins now among party members in Florida if they’re going to successfully defend Bill Nelson’s Senate seat (Rick Scott admitted on Wednesday what everyone has assumed is a given — he’s looking at running for Nelson’s seat). There’s also the potential to pick up a cabinet seat (or more) with with all four state office positions — governor, attorney general, chief financial officer, and agriculture commissioner — all open seats in 2018. “We need a message that resonates, not just in the cities, but everywhere in the state of Florida,” he said.

Inevitably, any conversation with Buckhorn about politics leads to his own potential participation for one of those seats in 2018 — specifically governor.

Although one-term Congresswoman Gwen Graham has virtually declared her candidacy and there’s a movement afoot to draft Orlando attorney and Democratic fundraiser John Morgan, Buckhorn isn’t showing his cards just yet, but admits he’ll need to decide by early 2017.

“Like a lot of people who are contemplating the future, you have to sort of sift through the carnage of last Tuesday and see what the landscape is, see whether or not there’s a path for victory for Democrats there, whether I’m the guy that can carry that torch, that I can inspire people to follow my lead,” he said, adding, “ultimately it’s gotta come down to whether in my gut whether this is something that I want to do.

“I’m lucky that I’ve got a job that I love coming to work everyday, and if I choose not to do this, I’m going to be perfectly happy, because I get to finish out an opportunity here as mayor that I have worked for my entire life. It’s a good position for me to be in. I do think the state needs new leadership, I think we need a regime change in Tallahassee. And I think that the Tampa renaissance is going to be a pretty compelling story to tell.”

A rundown of the real winners and losers from Florida’s general election

Tuesday’s slate of general elections in Florida certainly provided a list of winners and losers, and I’m not just talking about the candidates. Here is my list of the real winners and losers coming out of Election Day.

Winners

Rick Scott — The Naples Republican was an early backer of the president-elect, comparing Trump’s rise to his own 2010 gubernatorial run and even penning an op-ed way back in January saying Trump captured “the frustration of many Americans.” No doubt he’s taking notes for his own rumored 2018 U.S. Senate bid.

Blaise Ingoglia — Republicans keep their majority in the Florida House and Senate. Rubio easily re-elected to a second term. And Florida helps send Trump to the White House. It’s a good time to be the head of the Republican Party of Florida.

Joe Gruters — The Sarasota GOP chairman stood by Trump through a series of controversies, and will go down as one of his most loyal supporters. Bonus: He cruised to victory in House District 73, crushing his Democratic opponent.

Brian Ballard — It took him three tries to find his winning horse, but what a bonanza is now in store for him. The president-elect of the United States of America is his client, for goodness’ sakes. The only question now is to which country does Ballard wish to serve as ambassador.

Susie Wiles — Does she know how to pick them? Wiles was an early supporter of Trump, even taking over his Florida operations. Like Gruters, she’ll go down as one of his most loyal supporters.

Roger Stone — All in on Team Trump from Day 1. He issued an ominous warning in early October about the WikiLeaks dump. Did he have inside info? Maybe. But his prediction of a Trump presidency was on point.

Steve Crisafulli — The outgoing House speaker dedicated much of his time to helping Trump in Florida, raising money for the president-elect and helping bring Trump to the Space Coast for campaign rallies. Could Speaker Crisafulli be on a short list for an administration post? He has said he would consider an offer if one came along.

Meredith O’Rourke, Trey McCarley, Kris Money — When Republican campaigns want to raise money in the Sunshine State, these are the fundraisers they turn to. So it’s no surprise the Trump team turned to O’Rourke, McCarley, and Money to help raise campaign cash from Florida donors.

Richard Corcoran — There will be a lot of friendly faces when the speaker-designate officially takes charge in a few weeks. No Republican incumbents lost their re-election bid, and the GOP even picked up a few seats.

Florida Senate Leadership — In a “Fair Districts” environment, there was talk that the GOP majority in the upper chamber was in jeopardy. Hardly. It’s now 25-15 Republican with sometimes-not-a-team-player Miguel Diaz de la Portilla not coming back.

Gwen Graham — By default, she is now the leader of the opposition to Republican hegemony in Florida AND, truly, the Florida Democrats’ only hope for redemptionBob Buckhorn and Phillip Levine should announce today they are not running for governor so that the field is clear for Graham to go to war against Putnam/Weatherford/Corcoran/Latvala/Beruff.

Matt Gaetz — He was already on his way to Congress, but something tells me he will thrive in a Trump’s Washington D.C.

Carole Crist — Eight years after marrying Charlie, she finally gets to celebrate at an election night party.

John Morgan — The only expletive-filled rant you’ll hear from this medical marijuana advocate today will be one of joy.

Ben Pollara and Brian Franklin — Beat off a serious opposition campaign to help guide the 2016 medical marijuana ballot initiative to a decisive victory.

Costa Farms — Floridians gave a resounding “yes” to medical marijuana, and the Miami-Dade grower is well-positioned to get a big boost in business from the growing market.

AFP-Florida — Knocked on more than one million doors, talked with more than three million voters by phone, flooded the airwaves and filled Floridians’ mailboxes all in the name of taking down “Pay More Patrick.” Looks like Americans for Prosperity’s $2.5 million investment in Florida’s Senate race worked.

Marion Hammer — Diaz de la Portilla single-handedly kept major pro-gun legislation from being heard in the Florida Senate. With DLP out of the way, Hammer should be locked-and-loaded next legislative session.

Team Rubio — If you separate the man from his machine, you have to give props to Rubio’s vaunted campaign staff, which led the Republican to a 717,000-vote margin over Murphy. Credit goes to Alberto MartinezTodd Harris, and Heath and Malorie Thompson.

Matthew Van Name – Crist is not the easiest candidate to manage, but in his first time as a CM, Van Name quarterbacked the former governor to victory.

Team Curbelo — Give Chris MilesNicole Rapanos, and Roy Schultheis a hand for Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s resounding victory in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. They’re young; they’re smart and they’re fiercely dedicated to Curbelo.

Team Mast — Jose Mallea and Zach Burr were part of the formidable team that helped turn Florida’s 18th Congressional District back to red, sending Republican Brian Mast, a combat veteran and political newcomer to Washington. This is one congressional seat you can’t buy.

Rob Bradley — Behind the scenes, he was a chief surrogate and top fundraiser for Keith Perry‘s narrow victory over Rod Smith in state Senate District 8.

Joel Springer — Perhaps the most underrated political brain in Florida politics, but the man behind the GOP’s Senate campaign operations seems always to win.

James Blair — Going into Tuesday, the talk was that the GOP would lose as many as 10 (!) seats in the Florida House. Not under Blair’s watch, as he laid claim to the title of “the new Frank Terraferma.”

Marc Reichelderfer and Chris Spencer — The consultant and the campaign manager for Dana Young helped fend off a strong challenge from a smart, well-financed Democrat. Of course, Young worked her tail off as her campaign made personal contact with 85,000 SD 18 voters.

Consensus Communications — The firm had its hand in more than 20 key races across four states, creating dozens of winning TV spots, digital ads and mail pieces. In Florida, the firm worked with worked with candidates up and down the ticket. The firm played a role in the campaigns of incoming U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, state Sens. Keith Perry and Dana Young, state Reps. Jayer Williamson and Mike Miller, and Pam Gould for Orange County School Board. They also were involved in the Osceola School Tax initiative, and Orange County Charter Questions 1, 2, 3.

Front Line Strategies — Came out on top Tuesday with a host of wins in their back pockets. Winners included first-time candidates Bobby PayneChuck ClemonsByron DonaldsDon HahnfeldtStan McClain, and Bob Rommel. They also helped bring home victories for Reps. Bob Cortes, Manny DiazJay FantTom GoodsonMaryLynn MagarElizabeth Porter, and Jay Trumbull, and Sens. Dennis Baxley and Doug Broxson.

Tim Baker, Brian Hughes — Another day, another victory for Jacksonville’s dynamic duo, this time getting conservative Northeast Florida voters to sign off on the possibility of slots.

Anthony Pedicini and Tom Piccolo — If you are the tip of the spear in Tampa Bay for the speaker-designate, you don’t lack for work. The two GOP operatives enjoyed several victories for their House campaign clients. Also, an attagirl to Ryan Wiggins for her work in HD 60 and other races.

St. Pete Polls — Despite what Marc Caputo thinks :-), the little polling shop that could nail the outcomes of Crist versus Jolly, Smith versus Perry, and Buesing versus Young. And, don’t forget, it was the first poll (back in July 2015) to predict Trump would win Florida.

Christian Ulvert — A rare bright spot for the Democratic consulting class, chalking up wins for Jose Javier RodriguezRobert AscencioBen Diamond, and Nick Duran.

Florida’s sugar cane growers — After ending up on the receiving end of attacks from Florida’s environmental activists, candidates receiving support from sugar cane farming companies like U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals won big Tuesday. Sugar industry lobbyists picked winning horses including Sens. Bill MontfordDana YoungKelli StargelDarryl RousonVic TorresBobby PowellGary FarmerDaphne CampbellDoug BroxsonGeorge GainerTravis HutsonRandolph BracyDennis BaxleyDorothy HukillJack LatvalaVictor TorresDebbie MayfieldEd RoussonRene Garcia, and Frank Artiles. In the House, candidates included Reps. Matt CaldwellRay RodriguesManny DiazPepe Diaz, and Holly Raschein.

Christina Johnson — The public affairs pro is $1,000 richer after winning bets against David Johnson that Trump would win Florida and the presidency.

Mixed bag

Marco Rubio — Good news? He won his re-election bid bigly. Bad news? With Trump on his way to the White House, he’s stuck with the job for the next six years.

Pam Bondi — All her hard work for Trump paid off, but it wasn’t all celebratory parties for Bondi. Her former boss, Mark Ober, lost his seat as the Hillsborough County State Attorney, in a tight, tight race.

Sarah Bascom — Any time your cousin loses a congressional race, it’s a tough night, but when you are the PR firm sending out the official statements from both the speaker-designate and the Senate president-designate (along with wins in CD 2, SD 18, and 40) things have a way of working themselves out.

Kevin Cate — Finally helps delivers a victory for Crist, but that “Clinton will win Florida in a landslide” prediction could haunt him.

Eric Johnson — The Democratic consultant could be in the losers column, but just the fact that he got Murphy — who was shown to be a highly flawed candidate — this far is a testament to how smart he is.

Jack Latvala — His ally DLP went down, and he was way out front in his opposition to Amendment 2, but that was a principled stand that may turn out to be very right once there are pot shops on every corner.

Editorial boards — Among Florida newspapers, only the Florida Times-Union endorsed Trump. But the ed boards were the de facto opposition campaign to Amendment 1, which failed to reach 60 percent.

My predictions — Last Wednesday on “The Usual Suspects,” I predicted Trump would win Florida by two or three points. But then I let Schale and Co. and those damn memos get into my head and I backed off my prediction. Grrr. Down-ballot, I called Rubio’s big win, the right percentage Amendment 2 received, Crist’s win over Jolly and Murphy’s win over Mica, DLP going down, and was the only person to suggest Amanda Murphy was in trouble. But I also predicted that some South Florida Republicans, including Mike Bileca, would lose.

The Biggest Loser

Scott Arceneaux — The Washington Generals won more than the Louisiana native, whose sole talent — beyond convincing otherwise smart people to hire him — is finding new ways to make the Florida Democratic Party less relevant each cycle.

Losers

Bill Nelson — Not that he thought he’d go unchallenged in 2018, but after last night, the bull’s-eye on his back tripled in size.

Allison Tant — See above what’s written about Scott Arceneaux.

Florida Democrats — There are not enough dumpster fire gifs created to articulate how much the donkeys suck.

Oscar Braynon — The incoming Senate minority leader had the chance to pick up a few seats in South Florida, but couldn’t get it done. The reason? He blames Trump.

“The Fortress of Democracy” — We’re still not sure about what Matt Dixon reported about in May, but if the shadowy Democratic-aligned Florida Alliance was supposed to make the state go blue, it failed spectacularly.

The voters of House District 36 — Republican Amber Mariano may turn out to be the Doogie Howser of Florida politics, but she’s only 21 years old. Swapping her for the capable and decent Amanda Murphy seems like the worst kind of party-line voting.

Mike Fernandez — The Miami billionaire and mega-supporter of the Bush family went all-in on Clinton. Looks like that $2 million pledge to help the Democratic nominee could have been better spent elsewhere. He also backed Murphy and Jolly.

Tom Rooney — An early supporter of Trump, Rooney was one of a few Republicans who withdrew his support after tapes of the then-nominee making vulgar comments about women were released. Rooney won re-election by a margin of 28 percentage points, but you have to wonder how much bigger the lead would have been had he stayed on the Trump train.

Ryan Tyson, Steve Schale, and other handicappers — Don’t worry guys, we won’t hold it against you. You can’t always be right.

Quinnipiac University and almost all the other pollsters — Q-poll’s final call of Florida: Clinton +1. Bet polling director Peter Brown also predicted the Indians would beat the Cubs.

Laura Jolly’s friends on Facebook — The feed of the wife of U.S. Rep. David Jolly was filled with warm, optimistic photos and messages from the campaign trail. There were even puppies! We’ll miss hitting the like button underneath her posts.

Candidates supporting buying up sugar cane farmland — These candidates include Mary HigginsCrystal LucasRobert SimeoneJohn Scott, and Charles Messina. As with the primary, voters delivered a strong rebuke among state House candidates calling for buying sugar cane farmland. The lack of candidates who will support a land buy in the Legislature dealt a significant blow to environmental activists’ plans for action next session.

Duke, FPL, Gulf Power, TECO — Poured millions upon millions of dollars into Amendment 1, but it wasn’t even close when the results came in. The utility companies need to figure out a way to stop being made out as bogeymen when they’re actually pretty good at delivering their product.

Florida Education Association — The teachers union went all in for Dwight Bullard in SD 40 and came away empty-handed.

Redistricting — It was supposed to reset the Florida Legislature, but did anything but. Democrats only flipped one district, which means the new Florida Senate looks a whole heck of a lot like the old Florida Senate.

Ruth’s List — Marley Wilkes and her team raised beaucoup bucks for pro-choice women candidates, all of whom save Daisy Baez, lost.

Tampa Bay Democrats — So much for Hillsborough and Pinellas being bellwether counties. They were as red as hamburger meat. A lot of grassroots activists deserve credit here, but my paisano Nick DiCeglie and his lieutenants Todd Jennings and Matt Lettelier deserve a shoutout.

John Dowless and Alan Byrd — Faced with the toughest challenge of his 20-plus-year congressional career, Rep. John Mica’s team couldn’t seem to get their guy across the finish line.

Mac Stipanovich, Rick Wilson, and so many others — How did that #NeverTrump movement work out for you? At least Mac and Co. are established enough that they can still say “F*ck you” to anyone who gives them sh*t.

Steve Hurm battling cancer, wife Gwen Graham announces

Tallahassee lawyer Steve Hurm, general counsel to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and husband to U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, is battling stage 4 prostate cancer, she announced.

Graham, who has openly discussed her interest in running for Florida governor next year, announced Hurm’s condition at a presidential rally in Tallahassee that featured Vice President Joe Biden campaigning for Democrat Hillary Clinton Monday, and again in a campaign communique she sent to supporters Tuesday morning.

“My husband, Steve, was recently diagnosed with cancer. Our friends, family, and community have been incredibly supportive as he fights back against the disease. We can’t thank everyone enough for their love and support,” Graham stated in an email campaign update that included a picture of a balding Hurm and her getting ready to vote.

Hurm is a former police officer who went back to school and stayed in college all the way through law school, and has practiced law both privately and in various capacities for the state, including as counsel for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

In both the Biden rally and the email, Graham praised Biden for turning his own family cancer battles into his “Cancer Moonshot” initiative, aimed at making a cancer cure as high a scientific priority for the government as was a manned flight to the moon in the 1960s. Graham also used both occasions to urge people to support the Democrats who back more medical research, such as Cancer Moonshot.

“I had made the decision that I would be very personal talking about this because if we, in our experience, can help anyone, or if we, in our experience, can put a focus on the importance of medical research into a host of illnesses we suffer from,” we should, she said. “The cost associated with research is so insignificant compared with the cost associated with caring for folks who have cancer, or who have Alzheimer’s or who have a host of other illnesses. Not only the cost of the treatment, but the cost on the families, and the caregivers.

“So it’s another example of who you elect does make a difference. And in this one, it’s personal,” she said.

Joe Biden connects with campus crowd in Tallahassee

A sunglasses-wearing Vice President Joe Biden wanted a Tallahassee crowd on Monday to “imagine” a world with Donald Trump as president.

It wasn’t pretty.

“We don’t have to make anything up; we just have to say what they want to push,” Biden said during a midday get-out-the-vote rally at Florida A&M University. Several times, he prefaced his comments with, “This is not hyperbole.”

For example, “does anyone think a Trump administration will continue with $300 million in Pell grants,” allowing historically black colleges and universities to grow? he asked.

“Imagine what happens, imagine all the lost opportunities,” he said. If Trump wins, “what message does that send about who we are?”

Biden was on a last-minute swing through the Sunshine State the day before Election Day, stumping for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He was next scheduled to appear at a rally in St. Petersburg.

The vice president alternated from quiet to shouting, driving home his message of a Trumpian world without hope.

“This is about what kind of life you will be able to live,” Biden said. “This is not a joke. This is about what we value.”

He suggested Trump and incumbent Republican senatorial candidate Marco Rubio had their “thumbs in their ears,” pushing tax cuts for the wealthy “but none for child care.”

Biden finally recalled riding the train with his family to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., when “a black man,” Barack Obama, would become the first African-American president.

“I looked out over the Third Street Bridge, and I said ‘anything is possible,’” he said, firing up the crowd. “This is no time to turn that train around. It’s time to step on it, and with your help, we will own the finish line in the 21st century.”

His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, had introduced him with the warning: “The Obama-Biden legacy is in your hands.”

She said women “must be treated as equals, with dignity and respect.”

Mrs. Biden also alluded to the “dark days” that recently faced her family. Biden’s son, Beau Biden, an Iraq War veteran and former attorney general of Delaware, died of a brain tumor last year. He was 46.

“Every single vote matters,” she added. “Convince your friends, these must be days of action; you must vote.”

Other introductory speakers included Congresswoman and possible 2018 gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and North Florida congressional candidate and former state senator Al Lawson, all Democrats.

Where might there be a surprise on Election Night in Florida?

If the chalk won every game and match-up, there would be no Las Vegas or Macau. There would be no March Madness.

If the favorites won every time, there would be no reason to even turn on the television. We watch and love sports and gambling because the underdogs can and do win.

In no-limit Texas hold ’em poker, holding a pair of aces gives a player an 87 percent chance of winning against a seven-deuce offsuit before the flop. But that still means, over time, the worst hand in poker still wins 13 percent of the time.

The same thinking can be applied to politics. Despite advantages of name recognition and money, upsets occur. There’s no better recent example in Florida politics than in 2012 when the Democratic challenger defeated Republican Chris Dorworth, who was at the time in line to become speaker of the Florida House.

Dorworth’s aces were cracked by Mike Clelland‘s seven-deuce offset. I don’t like beating up on Dorworth anymore (especially after this weekend, when he got married), but I have to ask, is there another Dorworth situation in the cards for Tuesday?

Looking at the congressional races in Florida, the opportunities for an upset are thin. Whatever changes that were to be made to Florida’s congressional delegation have already happened (Gwen Graham not running, Corrine Brown losing to Al Lawson, etc.). This isn’t to say there aren’t interesting races to watch Tuesday because there are in CD 13, 18, and 26. However, the underdogs in those races are not exactly Davids facing Goliaths. Those three races are basically coin flips at this point.

The one competitive congressional race which is not a coin flip is CD 7 where Republican incumbent John Mica is attempting to hold off Stephanie Murphy. The smart money has been watching this race for more than a month as Murphy has closed on Mica, so it would not be out of left field were Murphy to knock off Mica. Still, if you had asked political observers a year ago if John Mica was in trouble of losing his seat, the answer would have been a loud ‘No.’

At the legislative level, its important to separate the competitive from the earth-shattering. There are competitive races in SD 8, 13, 18, 37, 39, and 40 as well as half a dozen state House races, but, again these are basically coin flips. Republican Dana Young is up single digits over Democrat Bob Buesing in SD 18; no one can safely predict who will win in the South Florida seats; and the House races will largely be decided by the top of the ballot.

BUT! And this is a huge but … a Sir Mix-A-Lot-sized but … were there to be a Dorworthian surprise Tuesday night, it will probably occur in some of the state House races in South Florida.

Again, a huge disclaimer that I am not suggesting that these upsets will occur, but there has been talk — over the last two weeks, especially as Donald Trump was tanking and through South Florida’s “gangbusters” early voting turnout Sunday — that if a wave the size of the one in the movie “Poseidon” were to hit, some Republican House candidates could be in trouble, such as Carlos Trujillo in HD 105 and Michael Bileca in HD 115

Mind you, I re-watched the movie “The Big Short” this weekend, so my mind is thinking in terms of failing tranches. Not that Trujillo or Bileca or any of the other South Florida Republican campaigns should be compared with subprime mortgages. They’re not. They’ve run AAA-rated campaigns.

But that’s the thing about black swans. They appear so rarely in nature, they are almost impossible to predict. The best you can do is look in the direction they might appear.

And on Tuesday night, that may be in South Florida.

Mitch Perry Report for 11.7.16 — Closing arguments

In this space on Friday, we reminisced about October surprises in previous election cycles before referring to the dual bombshells that have rocked this year’s presidential election: First, the release of that 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape in which Donald Trump spoke lewdly about women, followed 10 days ago with the announcement of the discovery of hundreds of thousands of emails that could be related to the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton‘s potential violation of national security documents.

We surmised the surprises were over, but then FBI Director James Comey did what a week ago both sides said he SHOULD do — reveal more information about the nature of the emails.

Comey said during the fourth quarter of the 1 p.m. NFL games yesterday that the newly reviewed emails do not incriminate Clinton — and suddenly all of those who were praising Comey were are now condemning him.

“You can’t review 650,000 emails in eight days. You can’t do it, folks,” Trump told an audience in Michigan yesterday. “Right now she is being protected by a rigged system. It’s a totally rigged system,” he said.

“This confirms everything Donald Trump’s been saying about the system,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi added. “The system is dysfunctional. The system is broken. And Hillary Clinton is the system.”

Some analysts now say this latest news could benefit Trump, as it becomes further proof the system is “rigged.”

Then again, some Democrats have insisted Comey’s announcement on Oct. 28 actually reenergized THEIR base.

“We’ve seen it add to the energy on our side,” Tim Kaine told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. “People on our side view this campaign as so important, the ‘Stronger Together’ message as so important and people don’t want it to be distracted. So there has been a great uptick in energy on our side in the early vote.”

Then again, what else are running mates supposed to say?

On Fox News Sunday, Mike Pence insisted the huge numbers of Latinos flocking to the polls is really a good thing for the GOP ticket, telling host Chris Wallace he wasn’t worried that Trump’s incendiary comments about Mexicans were going to haunt the campaign now.

“I’m really not,” Pence said. “The truth is that Hispanic-Americans have the same concerns that every other American does. And we want to get this economy moving again. We want our country to be safe. I was just down in Miami this last weekend, saw overwhelming support for Donald Trump, strong stand for freedom in this hemisphere, standing strongly against what the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton want to continue to do.  “

Wallace interjected: “So, you think all those Hispanics, sir, are coming out to vote for Trump and not for Clinton?  Really?”

“No, I’m saying …. I’m saying that the American people want change,” Pence said, pivoting to his own personal anecdote to confirm his beliefs. “That’s Americans coming from every category. I literally saw it. I stopped by and had some Cuban coffee at a classic stop in Miami. Karen and I had a hard time getting through the place with people that were enthusiastic about Donald Trump’s stand for a stronger America at home and abroad, getting this economy moving, and repealing Obamacare.  “

There you have it!

In other news …

At Sunday’s “Souls to the Polls” event in East Tampa, Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober  in the race of his career — met up with a man he once defended in court on murder charges.

Donald Trump was in Tampa Saturday morning,

Lisa Montelione wants Shawn Harrison to stop airing an ad that uses footage from her own ad to depict her as being missing in action.

The Senate District 18 race between Bob Buesing, Dana Young, and Joe Redner is mercifully almost over, but there was time on Friday for all three of them to get upset with each other.

Gwen Graham is only in elected office for a few more months, but she’s determined to stay vigilant (or at least in the news) with her calls for more public information regarding that Mosaic sinkhole incident.

Gwen Graham blasts Rick Scott and DEP for delay in public records request on sinkhole spill

Six weeks after first requesting public records pertaining to the leak of contaminated water that occurred at a massive sinkhole at Mosaic’s New Wales Facility at the Hillsborough/Polk county line in August, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham says she wants to know why Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are “stalling” to release emails related to the controversy.

“Public records are the one tool we have to keep Gov. Rick Scott and his Department of Environmental Protection honest,” Graham said in a statement Friday. “They kept the sinkhole secret for weeks — and now they’re stalling on our public records request. Floridians have a right to know the truth, and if the governor won’t hold the Department of Environmental Protection accountable for this massive mistake, we will.”

Graham says her office has been told by DEP officials it has taken weeks for the department to complete a legal review of the records, and that the department’s communications team is also reviewing the public records before releasing them. In letters to Scott and DEP Secretary Jon Steverson, Graham said it may constitute a violation of the state’s Sunshine Law.

“As you are aware, Florida courts have ruled that an agency’s unjustified delay in producing public records constitutes an unlawful refusal to provide access to the requested records, in violation of chapter 119, Fla. Stat. The only delay in releasing public records permitted by law ‘is the limited reasonable time allowed the custodian to retrieve the record and delete those portions of the record the custodian asserts are exempt.’” Graham wrote in the letter. “Because this request does not involve an ongoing criminal investigation and the requested communications are unlikely to include exempt or confidential information (such as local residents’ Social Security numbers), there should be very little information to redact from these records. There is no excuse for this process to take longer than a few days — certainly not six weeks.”

“As we have told their staff, we are processing them through our standard procedures,” said Taryn Fenske, a spokesperson for Governor Scott.

The DEP is making daily statements regarding the recovery process at the site, and said Thursday it has reviewed over 850 sample results from private drinking water wells, which have all met applicable federal Safe Drinking Water Act standards and showed no impacts related to process water from the sinkhole at the Mosaic New Wales facility. The agency says that they and the Department of Health are continuing to reach out to an additional 26 homeowners whose samples also show no impacts from the process water from the Mosaic sinkhole, but do have some some results above drinking water standards.

Graham has been aggressive in challenging Scott and the DEP to come forward with more information since the news about the massive sinkhole was finally disclosed to the media by Mosaic back in September. The agency has received criticism for waiting weeks after they learned about the toxic sinkhole before they took measures to alert the public.

Graham made her initial public records request to the DEP exactly six weeks ago. At that time, a spokeswoman for Scott said the governor has directed the DEP to expedite their investigation.  

Graham says she made a second public records request to Scott’s office on Sept. 29.

 

Mitch Perry Report for 10.31.16 —Tampa Bay Bucs owner bets big on Donald Trump

Edward Glazer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers co-chairman and part-owner, has donated the maximum individual allowable contribution of $5,400 to the campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton this year. However, if one were to guess who he really supports, it should be noted Glazer also has contributed $50,000 to the Trump Victory joint fundraising committee. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) also reports that Glazer’s wife, Shari, also gave $50,000 to the Trump Victory joint fundraising committee.

Speaking of the Bucs, let’s flash forward to yesterday, where I attended the Bucs-Raiders penaltyfest masquerading as a football game. It was my first time in Raymond James Stadium since the team spent an estimated $100 million for a whole raft of bells and whistles improvements, including $30 million from local taxpayers.

The majority of that money went to build two giant video scoreboards, and I’ve got a question for Bucs management this morning: Why spend so much money on such a huge piece of technology if you’re not going to employ it when people want to see it?

There were numerous interesting plays that were not replayed on those video screens yesterday, frustrating myself and many of the fans sitting with me in Section 336 yesterday. I’d really like to know who makes the decision on what replays shouldn’t be shown, and what is their established criteria on doing that?

The reason teams like the Bucs and the Jacksonville Jaguars have spent tens of millions of dollars in recent years to build these gigantic scoreboards is to replicate the home viewing experience. In recent years, NFL executives have fretted that with the explosion of HDTV’s, fans are more comfortable watching the games in their home.

Now the big story this fall has been why NFL television ratings have dropped precipitously in the first couple of months of the season. The high interest in the presidential election has been considered one of the reasons for the lower ratings, but nobody knows for sure. I can say that yesterday’s three-and-a-half-hour game, which definitely had a lot of big plays and excitement, still felt unsatisfying to me — and I’m a Raiders fan! Maybe the NFL has really peaked ….

In other news …

Randi Weingarten, head of one of the nation’s largest teachers unions, was in Tampa yesterday, where she said a Trump election could “decimate” public education.

Waiting for Omarosa so you didn’t have to: “The Women For Trump” event ended with a little excitement last Friday afternoon.

Gwen Graham is going to run for the Democratic nomination for governor, it appears, and last Friday morning she gave a full-throated argument on why she’s what’s needed in Tallahassee.

Gwen Graham says she’s poised to run a 67-county strategy for governor

Emphasizing her centrist political persona while addressing a packed restaurant in South Tampa Friday morning, Gwen Graham said her potential candidacy for governor of Florida in 2018 would be a “transcending of the politics” that currently exists today.

“I have heard from so many people who say ‘you’re exactly what the state of Florida needs,'” Graham said at the weekly “Cafe Con Tampa” lecture series at Hugo’s Restaurant in Hyde Park. “I will commit to running the type of gubernatorial campaign that will excite the state of Florida from one end to the other, and if I run … I will run a 67-county strategy.”

The Democratic U.S. representative from Tallahassee announced months ago she would strongly consider a run for the governor’s mansion in 2018, after redistricting the already Republican-leaning district would have made it a virtual impossibility for her to earn a second term in 2016. Her appearance Friday before dozens of mostly Democrats in the state’s third-largest city seemed to be an important one for Graham, who spoke with her mother, Adele, sitting next to her (to her surprise), while her father Bob Graham was speaking live on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on the television monitors above her for part of her speech.

For the uninitiated, Bob Graham is perhaps the single most-popular Democrat living in the state of Florida. The soon to be 80-year-old former Florida governor and U.S. senator is still extremely active, making media appearances this week across the nation on behalf of a new edition of his book, “America: The Owner’s Manual” (co-written with Chris Hand). His reputation and legacy have redounded onto his 53-year-old daughter, Gwen, who never ran for political office until two years ago. While looking up at her father on the television, Graham herself brought up the issue of running on her father’s coattails, and embraced the notion.

“You know what, y’all? Those are the best damn coattails in the whole wide world,” she said, as the crowd heartily cheered. She added she was “honored” to have her father as a role model growing up to see what a true public servant could be.

Graham’s short record in office shows she is a centrist. She boasted about how she overcame the odds against her in 2014 when she ran in one of the most conservative congressional districts of not only the state, she says, but the country, in defeating the Republican incumbent, Steve Southerland, 51 percent to 49 percent.

In that campaign, Graham vowed to oppose Nancy Pelosi for the party leadership’s top slot in the House, where she ended up after being elected in early 2015. She repeatedly emphasized in her 45-minute appearance how she would in fact, transcend politics-as-usual if she were to become the first Democrat elected governor in two decades.

“I think the state desperately needs someone who is willing to reach across to anyone for good ideas,” she stressed. “I don’t believe this is a Republican question, or a Democratic question or an independent question. It’s a question for Floridians. What do we want our next governor to focus on? How can we make the lives of Floridians better?”

That centrist persona doesn’t mean that she doesn’t understand politics, however. She’s been relentless over the past six weeks in pestering the Rick Scott administration and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection into making more information public about what the DEP knew and when did they knew it when it came to the massive sinkhole that opened up in late August at a Mosaic phosphate processing plant near the Hillsborough/Polk County line. It was originally reported as being 300 feet deep — but in fact, may be larger.

 Graham said she was “horrified” by what happened at Mosaic, calling it an environmental, human health and, ultimately, a “transparency catastrophe.”

On growth management issues, she said she would bring back the Department of Community Affairs, abolished by Scott during his first year in office. “We’re booming” she said of the state’s growth, adding developers and environmental advocates need not be at odds.

Like many Democrats in Florida, Graham is strongly opposed to the utility-backed solar power initiative known as Amendment 1 on this year’s ballot. She said the amendment as written is a “manipulation of the voters in Florida,” and “flat-out deception,” before adding that it’s up to the voters to read up on amendments that could end up in the state’s constitution.

Regarding economic development, Graham is in the Richard Corcoran camp when it comes to opposing economic incentives Gov. Scott prefers. “I think it’s about growing Florida from within, not bribing people to come in from without,” she said.

In responding to questions from the crowd, Graham said she supports the automatic restoration of voting rights for ex-felons, said if the opportunity ever comes around for money for high-speed rail from the feds that she would take it, and that she would take a “hard look” at the Tampa Bay Express project if neighborhood groups remain virulently opposed to it.

As to when she will make an official decision about running for governor, Graham predicted it would be sooner rather than later, but will not be on Nov. 9, the day after the general election. That’s when Bob Graham turns 80, and she said she didn’t want any distractions on that day.

Though “Cafe Con Tampa” co-organizer Bill Carlson made it sound like the general election contest had already been decided when he said his group had hosted Graham and previously Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (who addressed the same group a couple of months ago), there are plenty of both Republicans and Democrats in the state who aren’t ready to accept that conventional wisdom.

Other Republicans who could explore a run include the aforementioned Corcoran, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, and CFO Jeff Atwater. Other Democrats in the mix include state Sen. Jeremy Ring, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

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