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Super Tuesday: Sally Bradshaw opens Midtown Reader in Tallahassee

Sally Bradshaw has the perfect distraction for this crazy election cycle: books.

For the past few months, she has been neck-deep in bestsellers, up to her eyeballs in thrillers and focused on Florida favorites. She’s asked everyone she knows for a recommendation, and has been fixated on creating the perfect spot for literary lovers in the capital city.

All of that work will pay off Tuesday, when Bradshaw opens Midtown Reader, her independent bookstore in the heart of Tallahassee’s Midtown neighborhood.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Bradshaw, a longtime advisor to former Gov. Jeb Bush.

The Havana resident announced her plans to open the store earlier this year. In the months since, she’s traveled the country meeting with booksellers and shop owners to get a feel for the industry. When she wasn’t in meetings, she was at the shop, making sure every detail was just right.

The result? A cozy, 1,500-square-foot store filled to the brim with books. An estimated 10,000 books will fill the shelves when the doors open this week, and Bradshaw said she hopes the “eclectic mix” will attract readers from throughout Tallahassee.

“Tallahassee is a well-read town,” she said. “Regardless of who you speak to, everyone is reading something different.”

She’s hoping the bookstore will become a destination for book lovers across the region, a place where readers can stop by, browse the shelves and chat about their favorite piece of prose.

“There’s a lot of advantages to the social media world we live in, but the experience that’s missing on the internet is it’s very difficult to browse,” she said. “There’s value in being able to go into an independent bookstore and being able to browse. We’re really attentive to building a community of readers.”

That means spending a full day spent writing the staff recommendations that line the shelves, building a team “that loves reading and talking about books,” and quirky displays to draw in customers.

And while Midtown Reader is a general interest bookstore, expect to see a focus on literary fiction and Southern literature, especially Florida authors. Bradshaw and her team, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, are trying to build a “definitive Florida author list.”

Her dedication to Florida authors is already on display. The first in-store event — scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5 —  features Craig Pittman, author of “Oh, Florida!: How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country.”

The selection of Sunshine State books isn’t the only thing Bradshaw is proud of; the store boasts a large children’s and young adult section. The curator of the “Kidtown Readers” section is a former teacher with a “wealth of knowledge” about children’s books.

The store will hold a grand opening event Saturday, Nov. 12. Parents, take note: Curious George and Martha the Talking Dog are expected to make appearances. Poet David Kirby is scheduled to host a book signing and author mix-and-mingle at 5:30 p.m.

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Despite end of formal fundraising, Donald Trump to hold breakfast event at Doral Wednesday

Donald Trump may have said he was scaling back on high-dollar fundraising — ending with a Las Vegas luncheon held last week — but it didn’t mean he wasn’t quite done raising money.

The Republican nominee, joined by Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus and former ambassador Mel Sembler, among others, returns to Florida for a breakfast event Wednesday at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.

Proceeds will go to boost Trump Victory, an organization Trump established with the RNC to help pay for staff and other ground operations supporting Trump and other down-ballot Republicans. Sembler, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman and board member of Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise PAC, became vice chair in May.

Listed on the invite is a host committee that includes Priebus, Sembler, Trump Victory Finance Chairs Louis Eisenberg and Brian Ballard, as well as Steven Mnuchin, who chairs the Donald J. Trump for President committee.

Last week, Mnuchin told The Washington Post that Trump Victory’s last formal fundraiser was held Oct. 19.

The invite provided no information on the upcoming fundraiser, saying supporters will get further details upon RSVP.

The campaign also announced his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will be visiting Utah Wednesday, a formerly solid Republican state where polling shows Trump’s chances of winning are at risk.

Miami GOP rainmaker Mike Fernandez endorses Patrick Murphy, gives $100K

Mike Fernandez is backing Democrat Patrick Murphy in his race against Republican Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate.

Fernandez, the Miami billionaire who is one of the nation’s largest GOP funders, announced his support of Murphy to the Miami Herald Friday morning. He told reporters the main reason he’s voting for Murphy is the Jupiter Democrat’s support for lifting the Cuba embargo.

As well as voting for Murphy, the Herald also reports Fernandez has given $100,000 to a pro-Murphy super PAC.

Fernandez has been a longtime Republican fundraiser — giving more than $3 million this cycle to a super PAC supporting Jeb Bush’s presidential run — and briefly served as finance chair for Gov. Rick Scott‘s 2014 re-election bid.

However, in September Fernandez announced he was formally endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.

 

Old-guard money pouring in for John Mica in CD 7

The old guard of Orlando-Winter Park Republican politics is coming to the aid of U.S. Rep. John Mica in his hard-fought re-election battle, with tens of thousands of dollars pouring in the past few days for the 12-term incumbent in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

The donations include one from Garry Jones, president of Full Sail University, the for-profit school to which Republican Mica’s Democratic opponent Stephanie Murphy has close ties.

Jones had previously contributed $2,700 to Mica in February, but that was long before his business partner’s daughter-in-law, Murphy, entered the race in late June. On Thursday Jones donated another $2,700 to Mica’s campaign, demonstrating a point Murphy had once made, that Full Sail’s leadership, long politically active and generous in Central Florida politics, is also bipartisan. Jones’ wife and Full Sail’s chief information officer, Isis Jones, also donated $2,700 to Mica on Thursday, adding to the $2,700 she donated to him in February.

They weren’t alone.

According to 48-hour notices the campaigns now must post with the Federal Elections Commission, since last Thursday Mica’s campaign pulled in $2,000 from Marcos Marchena; $1,000 from Frank Kruppenbacher; $1,500 from Robert Saltsman; $5,400 apiece from Orlando Magic Owner Richard DeVos and his wife Helen DeVos, and at least $2,700 each from seven other members of the DeVos family; and $2,700 from Orlando timeshare mogul David Siegel;, all prominent Republicans in the Orlando community. Mica also got $5,000 from the JEB PAC of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

All totaled, Mica’s campaign attracted $44,400 since last Thursday, according to two 48-hour notices his campaign has filed.

Murphy’s campaign has filed only one 48-hour notice so far. It showed $13,800 in donations, including $1,000 from former Florida Sen. Daryl Jones and $5,400 from the Service Employees International Union Committee On Political Education.

CBS poll shows dead heat between Patrick Murphy, Marco Rubio

The Patrick Murphy campaign had more to cheer about Sunday after a CBS News poll showed the first-term congressman within striking distance of incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

The poll showed Rubio with 44 percent support among registered Florida voters compared to 42 percent support for Murphy, with 8 percent undecided and 6 percent saying they would vote for a different candidate.

Last week a poll from Opinion Savvy showed the Murphy, a Democrat, tied with Rubio at 46 percent support, and a Quinnipiac University poll showed Rubio ahead by 2 points.

In addition to the head-to-head, the poll also asked voters who they would choose if they could change their vote in the Republican Primary, and Donald Trump came out on top with 21 percent of the vote, followed by John Kasich with 17 percent.

Rubio, who placed second in the Florida Primary back in the spring, was the third place finisher in the with 15 percent support. Another 12 percent said they would have voted for Jeb Bush and 9 percent picked Ted Cruz, while the remaining 26 percent said they would vote for “someone else.”

The poll also showed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with 46 percent support compared to 43 percent for Trump. Libertarian Gary Johnson polled at 3 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein took 2 percent.

The CBS News poll was conducted over the internet Oct. 20 and 21 and received 1,042 responses. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

5 things I think I think about today’s Tampa Bay Times

Back before there was a FloridaPolitics.com and it was just me blogging at SaintPetersBlog.com, I would write a semi-regular screed about the Tampa Bay Times’ political coverage. This was so long ago, the Times still had St. Petersburg in its masthead.

I gave up the “5 things I think I think…” column after a while because it got repetitive. (And because so many of my favorite writers — Howard Troxler, Eric Deggans, Michael Kruse —  left the newspaper). However, with 15 days left before the election, it’s as good a time as any to check in on what the Times has to offer.

Unfortunately, it’s not much. At least as far as the print product is concerned. There’s some good and interesting stuff about national and state politics, but when it comes to the local scene, the pickings are slim.

There are only two Sundays left before Election Day and there isn’t a story in the newspaper about the high-profile congressional race in the region (Republican David Jolly vs. Democrat Charlie Crist) or the high-profile state Senate race in the region (Republican Dana Young vs. Democrat Bob Buesing and independent Joe Redner). Nothing on any of the state House races, although most of them are snoozers. Nothing on the county commission race between Republican Mike Mikurak and Democrat Charlie Justice.

Like I said, not much.

No wonder Adam Smith has to write about how “the dreaded campaign yard sign appears to be less in demand this season.”

Really, that’s the best the political editor of the state’s largest newspaper has to offer two weeks out from an election? Other than quotes from good guys Brian Burgess and Nick Hansen, this story is even sillier than you might think. It’s as if because Smith doesn’t see any yard signs in his tony Old Northeast neighborhood, there are no yard signs anywhere!

Smith blames The Case of the Missing Yard Signs on “most voters disliking the major presidential nominees too much to want to boast about their choice.” But since when were presidential campaigns even known for having a strong yard sign program? It’s the local campaigns, with their tighter budgets, which rely more on yard signs. And in Smith’s St. Petersburg neighborhood there aren’t as many competitive down-ballot races as there have been in recent election cycles.

Where Smith lives, there aren’t bruising races for state Senate, state House, county commission, or school board as there were in 2012 and 2014. So maybe Smith’s headline should have been “Adored by candidates, the dreaded campaign yard sign appears to be less in demand IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD.”

Ah, the good ol’ days of making fun of Adam Smith‘s work. It’s 2013 all over again. No wonder yellow-bellied Adam won’t participate in a post-election panel with me at the Tampa Tiger Bay club.

Actually, Smith has a must-read piece fronting the newspaper about Hillary Clinton’s connections to the Sunshine State and his “Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics” (consultant Rick Wilson is the winner; Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes is the loser) is spot on.

Other thoughts about today’s newspaper:

Months after both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were dispatched from the presidential election by Donald Trump, their names still sit atop the Times’ website when you click on the 2016 CAMPAIGN under the POLITICS link.

jebio

I agree with half of what John Romano tries to say about how “Rick Scott might have held the key to an outsider’s successful bid to the White House” because the columnist echoes some of what I’ve recently written about Scott; namely that Scott is under-appreciated as a political force. But where Romano and I diverge is with his thesis that Trump should have relied on the same message-driven playbook that worked for Scott in 2010. To suggest this ignores The Donald aspect of Donald Trump, which is what has propelled him to where he is today.

With Trump, there’s no way to separate the messenger from the message. This can be accomplished with Scott because he was a blank slate before he arrived on the political scene. Trump was already a brand.

Still, Romano’s column is worth the read.

 The Times’ final mission for the 2016 election cycle is to take down the utility industry-backed Amendment 1. The newspaper, of course, will write about Clinton vs. Trump and Marco Rubio’s re-election campaign, but it can’t influence those races. It can be a factor in whether Amendment 1 passes, so look for it to flood the zone — as it does today with not one, not two, but three Amendment 1 related punches, including this editorial.

Such good questions prompted by Charlie Frago’s reporting of how the City of St. Petersburg “experienced the equivalent of an air-raid siren warning about its impending sewage crisis.” Unfortunately, no one at City Hall is talking.

“I have no recollection of that event,” says Bill Foster, the mayor at the time. … Council members who served at that time also had never heard of it.

Former public works administrator Mike Connors, who was there when the Albert Whitted plant was closed in 2015, has retired. Water resources director Steve Leavitt and engineering director Tom Gibson were placed on unpaid leave while the city investigates what happened to the 2014 report, which was brought to light by a whistleblower.

Gibson and Connors declined to comment. Leavitt could not be reached for comment.

Even if any of these people did comment, it would not answer this question: who tipped off Frago to the 10.5 million-gallon discharge in 2013?

Pay attention to Susan Taylor Martin’s reporting about the 400 block of Central Avenue and whether it should be redeveloped into a residential property or into commercial space. Ten years from now, the 400 block could be the most important piece of non-waterfront property in the city, but only if the right decisions about its future are made now.

This was fun, critiquing the Times’ political coverage. Maybe it’s time to relaunch this series …

Marco Rubio presidential campaign owes $1.5M in debt

Marco Rubio might be running for re-election, but his presidential campaign is still more than $1 million in the red.

Campaign finance records filed with the Federal Election Commission show Rubio’s presidential campaign had more than $1.5 million in debt as of Sept. 30. The sum includes the costs of telemarketing services, media production, and legal fees.

According to campaign finance records, the presidential campaign owed $570,657 for telemarketing; $315,000 for media production; $167,000 for legal fees; $350,000 for strategic consulting; and $130,000 for web services.

It may seem like a lot, but the campaign has continued to whittle down its outstanding debt each reporting period. Records show the presidential campaign had more than $1.9 million in debt at the end of March.

Rubio ended his presidential bid in March, after he came in second to Donald Trump in Florida’s presidential preference primary. He announced he was running for re-election in June, just days before the qualifying deadline.

It’s not unusual for presidential campaigns to carry debt well after the race is over. In May, the Wall Street Journal reported former presidential hopefuls owed more than $5.4 million.

Paying down the debt could take years. According to the Wall Street Journal, Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic nominee, didn’t pay off debt for her 2008 presidential campaign until 2012.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is still trying to pay down the debt from his 2012 presidential bid. According to the most recent campaign filing, Gingrich still owed $4.6 million for his 2012 campaign.

Rubio isn’t the only 2016 hopeful whose campaign is still carrying some debt.

Campaign finance records filed with the Federal Election Commission show Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign owed $368,063 through Aug. 31; while Bernie Sanders, a 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful, owed $472,011 at the end of August.

Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign owed $250,000, down from $452,065 at the end of February. Bush ended his presidential bid after the South Carolina primary. Meanwhile, Chris Christie’s campaign still owes $170,505; while Rand Paul’s presidential campaign owes $301,107.

 

Mark Wilson: Rising workers’ comp rates hurt businesses

mark-wilson-florida-chamber
Mark Wilson

Attention Florida business owners — in case you missed it, you are about to be hit with a workers’ compensation insurance increase that you most likely haven’t planned for, all for the benefit of Florida’s billboard trial lawyers.

This week, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved a 14.5 percent workers’ compensation rate increase that takes effect Dec. 1 for new and renewal policies, the fallout from two damaging Florida Supreme Court decisions, Castellanos and Westphal.

A rate increase this big, this sudden, hurts Florida’s competitiveness and employers large and small. Many businesses will be forced to delay hiring — or even cut existing staff — to cover this leap in their workers’ comp premiums.

The increase is also a direct blow to Florida’s business-friendly climate and jeopardizes the 62 consecutive months of private-sector job growth we’ve experienced.

Let’s rewind back to 2003. At that time, Florida had the second-highest workers’ comp rates in the United States. These rates were threatening our state’s competitiveness. In response, the Florida Chamber of Commerce joined with then-Gov. Jeb Bush to pass a series of commonsense legislative reforms.

These reforms have become a national success story. Since enactment, Florida’s workers’ comp rates dropped approximately 60 percent, while at the same time injured workers got the care they needed more quickly and were able to return to work an average 10 days sooner than in the past.

But the Supreme Court rulings, issued earlier this year, have jolted job creators and threaten to unravel all the great progress our state has made over the past 13 years.

The most damaging of the two court rulings overturned reasonable attorney fee caps established to stop trial lawyers from using often minor workplace injuries as a means for suing businesses in hopes of hitting the jackpot on fee awards.

Florida’s insurance regulators had little choice but to approve the sudden rate hikes we’re seeing now because they forecast that the court’s approval of runaway legal fees is retroactive and will set off a tidal wave of trial lawyers refiling old cases and concocting new ones.

The worst part of this mess is that it isn’t about improving safety or care for injured workers. It’s been thoroughly documented that the 2003 reforms succeeded in getting workers well and back to work faster, while eliminating unnecessary legal costs. The only group benefiting from this ruling is the trial lawyers.

In fact, in Castellanos, the trial lawyer argued for $38,000 in attorney fees in a case in which the injured worker was awarded only $800 — and the Supreme Court now says those fees are acceptable.

We urgently need a legislative solution to address this looming crisis. Our goal must be to ensure injured workers continue to receive access to quality care and the court system, while providing job creators cost controls and the benefits of reining in outrageous attorney fees.

The Florida Chamber is actively leading the charge to help lower workers’ comp rates once again. Our Workers’ Compensation Task Force has been engaging Florida’s highest elected leaders, working with the brightest legal minds and coordinating with other states to develop the right solution. We are also working closely with business leaders and local chambers throughout the state to ensure Florida’s success story does not unravel and become a nightmare again.

Putting injured workers and job creators first, not trial lawyers, is the right thing to do to keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working.

___

Mark Wilson is the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at mwilson@flchamber.com.

Democrats throughout Florida call on GOP opponents to denounce #TrumpTapes vulgar comments

A newly released videotape showing Donald Trump making crude comments about a married woman he tried to seduce is sending shock waves throughout Florida politics.

“I’ve said some foolish things,” the Republican presidential nominee said overnight Friday in a taped apology posted on Facebook. “But there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women.”

But Florida Democratic candidates statewide are not letting Trump off the hook so easily. Nearly all of them are calling for the Republican nominee — as well their opponents who support him — to either clarify their position or withdraw from the race.

U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy released a statement Saturday calling Trump’s comments “disgusting,” blasting his opponent, incumbent Republican Marco Rubio, for giving a tepid response.

“While prominent Republicans like Senators Mike Crapo and Kelly Ayotte have already withdrawn their endorsements,” Murphy writes. “Marco Rubio issued a tweet with empty rhetoric and continues to stand by his choice for President.”

“Donald Trump’s comments are sickening, inexcusable and dangerous,” Murphy said. “They contribute to a culture that devalues women and makes our society unsafe … Trump is an unhinged misogynist who has no place anywhere near our country’s highest office.”

Murphy points out Rubio claims he ran for re-election to serve as a check on the next president, even if that president was Trump.

“But how can he serve as a check on a Trump presidency if he won’t even hold Trump accountable as a candidate?” Murphy concluded. “If Senator Rubio cannot withdraw his endorsement after this latest sickening news, then he should withdraw from the race.”

Randy Perkins, who faces Republican Brian Mast in the race for Florida’s 18th Congressional District, says that his opponent has regularly ignored the regular flow of Trump’s “crude comments about women.”

In a statement, Perkins accuses Mast of continuing to support Trump, despite frequent comments the GOP nominee made about women, including calling them “fat pigs … dogs … and slobs” and talking about prenuptial agreements as, “There are three types of women, all gold diggers.”

“I am deeply disturbed and disgusted, not only as a husband and a father, but as a human being,” Perkins said. “Bragging about groping women is never acceptable, and this type of language can never be tolerated or condoned.

“This is why I’m calling on Brian Mast to officially revoke his endorsement of Trump’s candidacy for president,” he added. Many prominent Republicans, including Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, have had the courage to denounce Trump’s vile rhetoric toward women, but, unfortunately, Brian has yet to take their lead.”

Perkins concludes with a question: “Whose side is Brian on, the people of District 18 or Trump?”

David Singer, the Democratic candidate for Florida House District 60, calls it a simple issue of “right versus wrong.” He also demanded Jackie Toledo, his Republican opponent for the Hillsborough County-based seat, to immediately denounce Trump’s remarks.

“As a husband and the father of two young daughters,” Singer said in an email. “I am horrified at Donald Trump’s comments. What he described as his normal behavior with women is criminal sexual assault, plain and simple.

“Anyone who seeks public office should immediately condemn him and call for him to drop out of this race as he is unfit to serve. This is not an issue of left versus right. This is an issue of right versus wrong. This does not reflect the values of our community.

“I am joining Democrats, Independents and Republicans across the country who are calling on him to leave this race. I hope that Jackie Toledo would immediately disavow him as well and join with us in opposing his candidacy.

“At the very least, I would hope that she will finally state that she will not vote for him. If she won’t reject Donald Trump’s candidacy after this, she should tell us what it would take.”

Former Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl refers to the release of the video — now trending on Twitter as #TrumpTapes — as the “Moraitis Moment.”

Keechl, a Democrat running for House District 93, was referring to his Republican opponent, incumbent state Rep. George Moraitis, who took to the stage last month to introduce Trump in Broward County.

“He is the kind of President that I want,” Moraitis had said at the rally.

Keechl is demanding an apology.

“The country, and world, now have seen what many Republicans, Democrats and Independents have known for so long — Donald Trump is offensive and demeaning to women and his words on the video released yesterday only show how disgusting and hurtful he is,” Keechl said in a statement. “If my opponent stays silent — or worse — continues to endorse and support Donald Trump, then he not only condones Donald Trump’s words and action, but he too will owe Broward residents an apology.”

Jeb Bush: ‘No apology can excuse’ Donald Trump’s vulgar comments

Former Gov. Jeb Bush joined scores of Americans outraged by vulgar comments made by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in a 2005 video uncovered this week by The Washington Post.

“As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump’s reprehensible comments degrading women,” the once-presidential candidate tweeted Friday evening.

Talking with Billy Bush, who was then a host of “Access Hollywood,” Trump was heard on the three-minute long video describing attempts to have sex with a married woman and bragging about women letting him kiss and grab them. Billy Bush is Jeb Bush’s cousin.

“When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything,” he said. “Grab them by the p—-. You can do anything.”

Trump was preparing for a cameo appearance on the daytime soap opera “Days of Our Lives.” According to the New York Times, the video was discovered by “Access Hollywood” producers, scanning archival footage for past interviews with Trump. NBC News, part of the same corporation as “Access Hollywood,” acquired the tape; the Post also obtained a copy to the video.

Trump responded with a statement calling the exchange: “locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”

 

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