Gwen Graham Archives - Page 6 of 29 - Florida Politics

Mitch Perry Report for 8.19.16 — Herald makes surprise endorsement in Florida Senate primary

Donald Trump could earn a big PR move today. He’s scheduled to travel to Louisiana to visit the flood-ravaged areas. Meanwhile, President Obama enjoys the last days of his summer vacation, golfing with Larry David.

The Miami Herald is making a little news this morning. The paper’s editorial board is dismissing both Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson in their review of the Democratic U.S. Senate race, and is endorsing Pam Keith in the contest.

The paper acknowledges what has been evident for nearly a year now — that the Democratic Party decided a long time ago that Murphy was their man, the heck with what the voters might believe. “Stacking the deck against Rep. Grayson corrupts the process,” the editorial board says.

The paper also acknowledges the electoral realities for a Keith victory are, well, “slim to none.” But it makes a strong case for why she deserves serious consideration. The paper is also backing Marco Rubio in the GOP race.

Meanwhile, I was hoping for a little more illumination from Time magazine with their cover story out today, called, “How Trolls Are Ruining The Internet.” Nevertheless, it does attempt to try to understand why there’s so much hatred expressed by people on the internet and, surprise, some of these “trolls” are well-established professionals.

Speaking of the Senate race, Rubio is seizing on the U.S. State Department’s acknowledgment yesterday that its $400 million cash delivery to Iran earlier this year was contingent on the release of four American hostages.

“This administration has peddled one outright lie after another as it attempts to defend its disastrous nuclear deal with Iran,” the Florida senator said in a statement. His campaign also banged on Murphy for supporting the Iranian nuclear deal, something that you’ll see other Republicans use as a cudgel against Democrats leading up to November.

The nuclear deal has also become an issue in the South Florida Congressional race between Tim Canova and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who supported the deal. Though Canova has been running to DWS’s left on most policy issues, he’s been critical of her for supporting that deal.

In other news…

It’s not hyperbole at all to say that the Republican Party of Florida is one of the most effective political machines in the nation. So while there’s no doubt that although their “Leadership Victory Committee” announced yesterday they will do their best in this presidential year to get the vote out, it’s also noticeable about how none of the members of the committee bothered to express any comment about making sure Donald Trump wins the Sunshine State in November — which most political analysts say he has to do to win the White House.

A day after we reported on a mailer HD 60 candidate Jackie Toledo has issued vowing to crack down on “illegal aliens,” the Democrat in the race, David Singer, weighs in.

Patrick Murphy mocks Marco Rubio’s public support for Donald Trump in new web ad.

The Pinellas County Democratic Party pulled their request for a grant to beautify their party headquarters after the city council’s approval created an uproar.

Gwen Graham joined members of a super PAC affiliated with Planned Parenthood in calling for Congress to return back to Washington to pass a “clean” bill on Zika virus funding.

Hillsborough GOP Clerk of the Courts nominee Eric Seidel signed a “pledge” to run a clean campaign in the general election versus either Pat Frank or Kevin Beckner.


Gwen Graham joins Planned Parenthood officials in again calling for Congress to return to vote on Zika funding

Back in May, North Florida Democratic Rep. Gwen Graham joined more than 120 colleagues in the House, calling for Speaker Paul Ryan to hold a vote on President Obama’s $1.9 billion emergency appropriations request to fight the spread of Zika. Three months later, she was at it again, this time accompanied by officials with Planned Parenthood Votes, a super PAC aligned with Planned Parenthood.

“This is not the time to be playing partisan politics,” Graham said in a conference call held Thursday. “This is a time for us to do our job, and bring a clean bill forward so we can find additional resources.”

In late June, Senate Democrats rejected a request for $1.1 billion in Zika funding because of what they said were “poison pills” inserted in the measure. Specifically, they opposed a provision easing Environmental Protection Agency regulations, as well as a measure that would have prevented funding for Planned Parenthood. Instead it would go to other community health centers.

Graham said she recently — and reluctantly — requested that the Department of Health & Human Services divert funds from other vaccine production activities so that they could fund more Zika research.

While Graham, a noted centrist, didn’t criticize any Republicans in her remarks, that was not the case with Dawn Laguens, head of Planned Parenthood Votes.

“The Centers for Disease Control says that family planning is the primary strategy for reducing Zika-related pregnancy complications, yet instead of centering on women’s health, Marco Rubio and the Republican leadership have worked to gut family planning and women’s health care for years, including efforts to destroy the frontline providers like a Planned Parenthood, that are needed to do this work today,” Laguens said, adding that Rick Scott has been leading a “crusade” against women’s access to health care since the day he entered office.

“These politicians have worse than no plan. Their plans are making things worse,” Laguens added. “You cannot have a Zika strategy that focuses on mosquitoes, but not women and families.”

The Zika virus can be transmitted through a mosquito bite or from sexual contact with an infected person of either gender. The virus can cause serious birth defects, including microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads and brains.

Earlier this month, Sen. Rubio said pregnant women who have contracted the Zika virus should not have access to abortions.

“We need to respect each women’s ability and right to make decisions about whether or not to have a child, and she needs to be able to make this decision in accordance with her own feelings, her family, those feelings of faith she may have, and with her doctor,” said Laguens. “But Marco Rubio, Rick Scott and Donald Trump have no place in that decision.”


Gwen Graham supports ‘forever’ lobbying ban on members of Congress

If you’re gonna go out, go out with a bang.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Tallahassee Democrat, announced Friday “she is co-sponsoring legislation to ban members of Congress from ever becoming federal lobbyists.”

The problem is, it’s probably not constitutional.

“My horseback answer is ‘no,'” said Joseph Little, a retired professor of the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law and constitutional law expert.

“It would be hard to sustain such a statute if the terms are ‘forever,'” he said. “I think a court could well decide that’s unreasonable and beyond what’s needed to purge any unreasonable advantage someone might have.”

Graham, who is not running for re-election, served one term in Congress before her 2nd Congressional District was redrawn into a more conservative-leaning one.

As she explains it, “The revolving door from Congress to (lobbying) represents everything wrong with Washington. Members of Congress shouldn’t use their time in office as a taxpayer-funded class in learning to lobby.”

She added: “We need to restore the public’s faith in government, and that starts by restoring their trust in public officials.”

Now, the federal lobbying ban is two years for former U.S. senators and one year for former members of the U.S. House.

She quotes that “more than 430 former members of Congress are now lobbyists (or ‘senior advisors’ performing similar work).”

A spokeswoman for The Center for Responsive Politics, the government transparency group that operates the website, clarified that they identified 431 former lawmakers who are or at least once were lobbyists. Their list by name is here.

In April, Graham — daughter of former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham — said she was “seriously considering running for governor in 2018.”

Federal Election Commission records show Graham has cash on hand of $1.38 million in her “Graham for Congress” committee, money she can use for a state race.

Florida Right to Life PAC endorses Ken Sukhia in CD 2 race

Former federal prosecutor Ken Sukhia has received a significant boost from another pro-life group in support of his bid for Gwen Graham’s congressional seat.

Sukhia, the former U.S. attorney running as a Republican for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, received the endorsement Friday of the Florida Right to Life Political Action Committee. Sukhia faces Panama City urologist Neal Dunn and attorney Mary Thomas in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

“I’m humbled to receive the endorsement of Florida Right to Life PAC because protecting life is a primary duty in all civilized societies,” Sukhia said in a statement Friday. “Protecting the unborn is more than a political issue for me, it’s a moral issue that I am deeply committed to upholding both in my private life and in public service.”

Along with the Florida Right to Life PAC endorsement, Sukhia has also received backing earlier this month from the Personhood FL ProLife PAC.

In giving the group’s endorsement, Florida Right to Life PAC chair Jan Halisky said, “The endorsement indicates that you are the best pro-life candidate in the race and is a recommendation that our members and supporters vote for you.”

Sukhia has been on the front lines of the pro-life movement. He defended Florida’s Parental Notification of Abortion law in an intense trial before the 1st District Court of Appeal. In April 2016, Sukhia was called to testify before a Select Congressional Committee investigating the for-profit harvesting and selling of baby body parts.

Sukhia also helped to establish and has long supported Tallahassee’s Women’s Pregnancy Center.

More information on Sukhia’s campaign is at

CD 2 covers much of Northwest and North Central Florida. It includes all or part of Bay, Calhoun, Columbia, Dixie, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Marion, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington counties.

Mitch Perry Report for 8.5.16 — Rio or bust

For those of you excited about the Summer Olympics, now is your time.

Comcast says it will be broadcasting 6,800 hours of  programming on 11 channels, and “up to” 41 live streams. So they’ve got you covered.

The NFL also returns this weekend — sort of — with the Hall of Fame ceremonies from Canton, Ohio taking place Saturday night; and Bucs fans will no doubt be excited to see Tony Dungy get his time in the spotlight.

The first 20 years of the Tampa NFL franchise showed only glimmers of success before Dungy took over in the mid-1990s. And with the help of Rich McKay drafting a great core of players, they turned the team into a power that ultimately won its one and only championship in 2002-2003 — a year after he was unceremoniously dumped by the Glazier family.

But that’s ancient history. There’s a couple of other heavyweights who also will be getting inducted.

As a lifelong Oakland Raider fan, I’m a bit ambivalent about the fact that their legendary quarterback from the 1970s, Kenny Stabler, finally gets inducted. Why do I have mixed feelings? Because though “The Snake” retired in 1984 and was eligible at the beginning of the 1990s, the sportswriters who make such weighty decisions bypassed him every year until he fell out of contention. Yes, his stats are as impressive of others from his era (like Roger Staubach or Fran Tarkenton). He threw more interceptions than touchdowns, completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes, and posted a quarterback rating of 90 or better just twice in 15 NFL seasons. But he was leader of the legendary Raiders of the 1970s , a team that has only grown bigger in stature in the ensuing decades.

Sadly, Stabler died a year ago at the age of 69. Perhaps it was a sympathy vote, but he finally, finally made it to Canton this past January. Congrats, Snake.

Another quarterback by the name of Brett Favre will also be inducted, and he will, of course, be the star of the show. I used to loathe him when he was the darling of the NFL for so many years, but contrarily became a fan just when everyone else seemed to grow weary of his act late in his career, when he bounced to the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings. And he still looks great in those Wrangler ads.

In other news …

Debbie Wasserman Schultz now says she will debate Tim Canova in the race for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

Gwen Graham has returned over $400,000 to her donors after announcing she wouldn’t run for re-election to her seat in Congress.

Vern Buchanan says “enough!” and is calling on President Obama to halt the repatriation of any Syrian refugees into the U.S.

Andrew Warren, the Democratic challenger to Mark Ober at the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office, lays out another indictment of Ober’s tenure, while the GOP incumbent says little in response.

Dick Greco is backing Augie Ribeiro in the Senate District 19 race.

Gwen Graham returns more than $326,000 in campaign contributions

Since announcing that she would not run for re-election to her Congressional seat in Tallahassee back in April, Gwen Graham has refunded more than $326,000 to the public and political committees who had given her campaign contributions.

That may appear as a lofty number for a political figure who could be running for another office next year and might want to transfer the funds to another campaign, but the majority of those returns were generated by a federal election law.

Graham became an instant star in Florida Democratic politics back in 2014, when she won a bid to serve in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. Due in part to a lackluster bench and the fact that she is the scion of Florida Democratic Party royalty (as the daughter of former Governor and Senator Bob Graham), Graham immediately began being mentioned in political circles as a potential candidate for higher office in the years to come.

That idea began to accelerate earlier this year, after Graham opted not to run for re-election to her congressional seat. Her decision was predicated on her electoral prospects dimming due to redistricting of her 2nd Congressional District, one of eight in the state determined by the Florida Supreme Court to have been drawn up in violation of the state’s Fair Districts amendments passed in 2010. So in April, she announced that she would not run for re-election, but would consider a gubernatorial run in 2018.

Although Graham could legally transfer the funds generated by her congressional campaign into an account to run for governor, she opted to immediately issue a letter to her campaign contributors telling how they could get a refund, if they wanted to. That led to 55 separate donors requesting a refund, for a total of $55,000. Graham spokesman Matt Harringer said that was out of a total of 8,500 contributors.

But the bulk of her refunds — $271,000, or 83 percent of the $326,000 she gathered from individuals and political action money — were automatically returned to contributors who had given the maximum of $5,400 — broken down into $2,700 contributions for the primary and general elections. A Federal Election Commission rule states that “if a candidate candidate accepts contributions for the general election before the primary is held and loses the primary (or does not otherwise participate in the general election), the candidate’s principal campaign committee MUST RETURN the general election contributions within 60 days of the primary or the date the candidate became ineligible to participate in the general election.”

Graham’s move is in contrast to what happened with Eric Lynn, the CD 13 Pinellas County Congressional candidate who dropped out of his Democratic primary race against Charlie Crist earlier this year, and instead filed to run in a state legislative race against fellow Democrat Ben Diamond in House District 58. Lynn has said only a few donors requested a refund from his congressional campaign account, while he maintained the majority of his campaign coffers that he had raised and ultimately put into his legislative campaign. Lynn said he did not send out a letter to contributors about getting a refund.

Graham spoke to the Florida Democratic Delegation in Philadelphia last week, a speech widely interpreted as an initial salvo in generating more name recognition for a possible run for higher office in 2018.

Graham still has $1.38 million cash-on-hand going forward.

Charlie Crist leading statewide survey of 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidates

With a presidential and U.S. Senate election to focus on, Florida Democrats don’t appear to be thinking too much about who might be their standard bearer for governor in 2018.

Other than pure name recognition, how else to explain that in a statewide survey of Democrats conducted by St. Pete Polls earlier this week, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist by far leads any other Democrat, getting 38 percent support.

Crist is running in Florida’s 13th Congressional District’s against Republican David Jolly. He has made no indication he would then turn around and run for the seat he held from 2006-2010.

Finishing in second place in the survey is Congresswoman Gwen Graham, who gets 12 percent. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is at 10 percent, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn gets 9 percent, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is at 3 percent, and state Sen. Jeremy Ring gets 0.9 percent. Another 7 percent prefer another candidates, and 19 percent were unsure.

Graham, Buckhorn and Levine all gave speeches at the Florida Delegation Breakfasts that were held daily in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention. Of the three, Buckhorn won the most plaudits for speech, while Graham was criticized by some for using a teleprompter. Levine’s address was considered extremely low-key.

Graham, the daughter of former Florida Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham, has been hailed as a potential star in the party after her election to Congress in 2014, but her district was severally altered in redistricting last year, prompting her to announce earlier this year she would not run for a second term. She has indicated she is strongly considering a statewide run in 2018.

Ring, who worked for Yahoo! before getting elected to the Legislature, has also talked up a possible 2018 candidacy, as has Levine.

Dyer and Buckhorn have been more circumspect about a possible run.

Although Crist has denied any interest in running for higher office, there are still those throughout the state who say it is impossible to discount the possibility that he might pursue a third run for the office. After serving one term as governor, Crist left the office to run for U.S. Senate in 2010, where he lost while running as an independent.

In 2014 he became the Democratic nominee for Governor before narrowly losing to Rick Scott. He announced his candidacy for Congress  last fall.

The poll robocalled 1,807 likely Democratic primary voters Aug. 2. It has a 2.3 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.

Some candidates have questioned St. Pete Polls surveys in the past, because they do not include cell phones in their polls. The survey did poll only Democrats who voted in the 2012 and 2014 primary elections.

Mitch Perry Report for 7.29.16 — Goodbye from Philadelphia

Good morning,

Well, I’m glad it just started raining in Philadelphia, because I didn’t set an alarm, and a plane awaits to go to whisk me to Tampa in a few hours, so not much time for any insights from this week. Let’s just say this: When Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim-American soldier slain in Iraq, stared at the camera and Donald Trump and said, “In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law,'” it was an incredibly powerful moment.

There were actually a lot of them last night leading up to Hillary Clinton giving her acceptance speech as the Democratic nominee for president.

That included the drama of Bernie Sanders supporters in the hall calling out “no more war” as Gen. John Allen gave a fierce endorsement for Clinton. Anyway, really, there’s no time to thinks, so …

In other news:

Before the main event, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a speech invoking the spirit of his late father, Mario Cuomo.

There’s been a whole lot of Donald Trump trash talking this week in Tallahassee, and in the Florida Delegation Breakfasts, comparisons between Trump and Rick Scott were plentiful. Gwen Graham parroted Michael Bloomberg in saying the two represent the “con men” wing of the GOP, while Howard Dean went there with his “neanderthal nincompoops” line.

Activist Lauren Book is headed for the state Senate, and the Broward County Democrat challenged members of the delegation yesterday to ask why they traveled so far to be a part of the DNC yesterday.

Janet Cruz, the Tampa House Democrat and incoming Minority Leader in Tallahassee, believes the Dems can flip six House seats from red to blue this fall.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe told Florida Democrats he’ll individually sign over 206,000 forms to allow ex-felons get the right to vote this year, undoubtedly making them jealous they don’t have a governor who would do the same.

Donald Trump is mentioned more often than Hillary Clinton among Florida Facebook users, I learned at the convention.

Hillary Clinton aide says Bernie Sanders backers to come around

The Latest on the Democratic National Convention and 2016 presidential campaign. (all times EDT):

7:10 p.m.

A Hillary Clinton campaign adviser says he’s not worried about winning over Bernie Sanders’ supporters.

“Most of them are going to come around.”

That’s what John Podesta thinks.

Podesta says he knows there are some in the Sanders camp who are still “emotional” and wish Clinton didn’t win more votes than the Vermont senator in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But Podesta says most of Sanders’ supporters are looking at the election as a choice between Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

Podesta spoke after some Sanders delegates at the party’s convention wore neon yellow shirts to protest Clinton’s nomination.

6:50 p.m.

Some Bernie Sanders supporters are wearing glow-in-the-dark shirts on the final night of Democrats convention in Philadelphia.

They say it’s a way to remind presidential nominee Hillary Clinton that she hasn’t brought them all on board yet.

For Clinton, the silent protest probably is preferable to the heckling and booing from that marked the early days of the convention.

Sanders delegate Davena Norris says her bright shirt is meant to send a message that more needs to be done to curb the influence of money in politics.

6:45 p.m.

Donald Trump is campaigning in Iowa and largely avoiding the topic that earned him lots of criticism this week.

Only a day ago Trump encouraged Russia to find and make public missing emails deleted by his Democratic presidential opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s comments raised the question of whether he was condoning foreign government hacking of U.S. computers and the public release of information stolen from political adversaries.

Trump was condemned by Clinton and even some of his fellow Republicans. Running mate Mike Pence warned of “serious consequences” if Russia interfered in the election.

Trump has since insisted he was being sarcastic.

At the Iowa rally, he did say he wanted better relations with Russia and joked that writing letters was more secure than “putting something on a computer.”

5:40 p.m.

Donald Trump says “a lot of lies are being told” about him in the speeches at the Democratic National Convention this week.

The Republican presidential nominee is joking about it during a campaign rally in Davenport, Iowa.

“Boy, I’m getting hit” by Democrats – he says. “I guess they have to do their thing.”

Trump is criticizing Democrats for not talking about terrorism or laying out a plan to aid the economy.

4:25 p.m.

Die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters from Oregon’s delegation say they’re demanding a nationally televised apology at the Democratic National Convention before Hillary Clinton takes the stage Thursday night to accept the presidential nomination.

The matter involves leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee that indicated party officials were biased against the Vermont senator.

The DNC has apologized and the party’s leader, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is resigning her post.

But Melissa Pancurak tells The Associated Press that those steps don’t go far enough. She says the Oregon delegates are part of a coalition of Sanders supporters working to get their demand to appropriate DNC officials before Clinton’s speech.

4:20 p.m.

Donald Trump’s stand on abortion has been inconsistent, but his running says Trump would be a “pro-life president.”

Mike Pence is campaigning in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and he makes clear he opposes abortion. And the Indiana governor tells a town hall rally, “I don’t apologize for it.”

Pence drew the ire of abortion rights advocates in March after he signed a law banning abortions that were being sought because of fetal genetic defects. That law has since been blocked pending the outcome of a court challenge.

Pence says Trump would appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court who would send the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling to the “ash heap of history.”

4 p.m.


That’s what Elijah Cummings thinks of liberal supporters of Bernie Sanders who chanted an anti-trade slogan during the Maryland congressman’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

But Cummings says he’s not upset about it because he’s a veteran of civil rights protests and understands the passion that drove the mostly young delegates to shout over his speech Monday.

Cummings says in an interview that most of those who were shouting probably didn’t know he worked with Sanders to draft the Democratic platform and he’s “never voted for a trade bill in 20 years in Congress.”

He says more than 100 people have apologized to him for the outbursts.

2:37 p.m.

President Barack Obama‘s mention of “fascists” and “homegrown demagogues” in his convention speech wasn’t aimed at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

That’s what White House press secretary Josh Earnest is telling reporters the day after Obama argued for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s election over Trump.

Obama said “anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.”

Obama had criticized Trump several times before arriving at that particular line in the speech, including saying that American power “doesn’t come from a self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way.”

Trump said in his acceptance speech at last week’s GOP convention that “I alone can fix” a political system he says is rigged.

2:19 p.m.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is giving Hillary Clinton credit for her work on behalf of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Giuliani was asked at a Republican Party briefing Thursday in Philadelphia whether he took issue with the Democratic convention speakers who’d been praising Clinton. Giuliani said she was “enormously supportive and helpful.” Clinton was a U.S. senator from New York at the time.

He says Clinton “has a right to tell people that she worked hard on behalf of the 9/11 families.” He adds that, “She did.”

But Giuliani adds that “on all other aspects she fails the test.” Clinton and Democrats, he says, have “not done anything to prevent another attack.”

1:50 p.m.

This time, Bill Clinton will be the adoring spouse, rapt and smiling when the cameras cut away from the candidate in the spotlight.

He’ll be the He in the VIP box watching as She accepts the presidential nomination at the Democratic convention on Thursday.

It’s one small step in the role reversal Americans will need to get used to if Hillary Clinton wins the White House in November.

Already, satires and spoofs are circulating, taking note of Bill’s fashion choices, accessories and hair style. How about that fetching pantsuit! And that nice head of hair! Whose shoes is he wearing?

After all, that’s what political wives have come to expect.

Bill Clinton, utterly comfortable in his own skin, seems to be just fine with trading places with his wife, the former first lady.

10:28 a.m.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid says the CIA should give Donald Trump “fake intelligence briefings” because he can’t be trusted.

The Nevada lawmaker tells reporters in Philadelphia that “they shouldn’t give him anything that means anything because you can’t trust him.”

Reid was responding to Trump’s call for Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.

He says he’s sure the agency is aware of his suggestion.

He also says Trump may have violated the Logan Act that bars unauthorized U.S. citizens from negotiating with foreign governments.

9:56 a.m.

The North Carolina Republican Party has removed a tweet criticizing Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine for wearing a pin honoring his son’s military service.

The tweet posted during Kaine’s Democratic National Convention speech Wednesday night said Kaine “wears a Honduras flag pin on his jacket but no American flag. Shameful.”

The pin in question has a single blue star against a white background outlined in red. It’s the same design as the Service Flag, which is reserved for families who have members serving in the military during wartime. The flag of Honduras has five stars against a blue and white striped background. Kaine’s son is a Marine set to be deployed to Europe.

The party hasn’t responded to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Joe Henderson: DNC Day 3 — organization is everything

Florida Democrats have long since undertaken the groundwork to deliver the Sunshine State to Hillary Clinton in November. In fact, you could say that began in 2008 and continued four years later when Barack Obama carried Florida in both of his presidential campaigns.

The local operatives, so critical in big elections, who turned out the vote for Obama have stayed busy trying to do the same for Clinton.

“They never left,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. “Some of the players might be different now, but the model is still the same.”

That organization stands in stark contrast now to Republican nominee Donald Trump, who appears to have little visible infrastructure in place here.

Clinton has a major head start on him and that could the difference in what shapes up as a closely contested contest.

The work of turning out the vote will take on a new urgency after the balloons drop at the end of Clinton’s acceptance speech Thursday night. Buckhorn, who has solidly been in the Clinton camp, figures to be an important part of all that.

“Organization is everything,” Buckhorn said. “In Florida presidential races it’s all about the turnout and not so much about TV or radio (ads). Building connections matter. Field organization matters. Gathering data is important. It becomes a combination of analytics and data mining. Marry the two of those and you’ve got something.”

Clinton is popular among Florida Democrats.

In 2008, she received 49 percent of the primary vote to 32 percent for Obama, who by that point was well on his way to winning the nomination. In the March primary this year, Clinton nearly doubled up Bernie Sanders 64 percent to 33 percent.

But Trump received 1.079 million votes in the GOP state primary, nearly as many as Clinton’s 1.1 million.

Even given Trump’s renowned penchant for outrageous and, as Democrats charged after his suggestion that Russia hack more of Hillary’s emails, treasonous behavior, polls show a tight contest between the two for Florida’s 29 electoral votes.

“You never underestimate anybody,” Buckhorn said. “The proof is in the bodies. Organizing means putting those bodies on the road, making those phone calls, knocking the doors. I haven’t seen any evidence of the Trump people doing that (in Florida).”

WEDNESDAY TAKEAWAYS: That was a show of force Wednesday night by the star-packed Democratic lineup.

President Barack Obama, as expected, set Clinton up perfectly to be the right person to accept the baton of leadership from him. I thought former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, took Trump apart on The Donald’s own playing field in the world of business.

But for the star of the night, give me Vice President Joe Biden. Who else but Biden could call Trump’s claims “a bunch of malarkey” and turn it into a rallying cry. The hashtag “malarkey” quickly started trending on Twitter and prompting many clever memes – the best of which was a signature red Trump ball cap with the word “Malarkey” emblazed instead of his “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Sitting through vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s speech was like sitting through a warmup band you don’t really want to hear before the main show begins. I’ll give a tepid thumbs-up to his mocking “Believe Me” impersonation of Trump, but he should have stopped it after one or two times.

I mean, it wasn’t THAT funny.

So it’s all there for Hillary now to see if she can convince the undecided Americans that she is best for the job. Stick to the end for the balloon drop. Balloon drops are cool.

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