Kathy Castor Archives - Page 2 of 38 - Florida Politics

Florida congressional delegation seeks state of emergency

Florida’s U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio and 13 members of Florida’s congressional delegation have formally asked the White House to declare a pre-landfall state of emergency for Florida as Hurricane Michael looms.

The letter to President Donald Trump declares their “full support” for the emergency declaration sought by Gov. Rick Scott, stressing the need for early preparations. Such a declaration would authorize mobilization of federal resources immediately.

“We write in full support of Florida’s request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration in anticipation of Hurricane Michael. Based on the current forecast, this hurricane has the potential to severely impact communities across northern Florida and down the coast. We urge you to immediately approve this request to ensure that all federal resources are made available,” the letter declares.

In addition to Democrat Nelson and Republican Rubio the letter was signed by Republican U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, Carlos Curbelo, Neal Dunn, Matt GaetzIleana Ros-Lehtinen, and Dennis Ross, and by Democratic U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, and Darren Soto.

“Since 2016, Florida has been hit by Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew, Irma, and Nate. While Floridians are still in the process of recovering from previous storms, federal resources are crucial to ensuring a successful response to Hurricane Michael,” the letter states. “Preparation has been shown to be key in reducing the potential for loss of life and destruction of property. As such, we strongly urge you to consider all of the circumstances referenced in our Governor’s request, and approve this pre-landfall emergency declaration that will provide the assistance necessary to ensure the safety of Floridians.”

Democrats hammer Ron DeSantis on five-year anniversary of federal government shutdown

Five years ago, the federal government shut down. And on Monday, three Florida Democrats reminded Florida media of Ron DeSantis‘ role in “masterminding” it.

DeSantis, now the Republican nominee for Governor, was in his first term representing Florida’s 6th Congressional District at the time. And he and his Tea Party colleagues were uniquely positioned to exact influence, the Democrats said on a media call.

DeSantis, among other things, said a shutdown wouldn’t be “the worst thing ever.”

The call included two incumbent Congresswomen and a former Congressman who made the case that, contrary to such breeziness, the shutdown impacted people in their districts.

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, who represents the Tampa area, asserted that the shutdown was driven by a desire to end Affordable Care Act coverage of preexisting conditions.

“Republicans had a majority in the House,” said Castor, “and all summer long they threatened to shut down the government and they finally went through with it at the end of the fiscal year.”

“Not even a majority of Republicans from Florida were trying to push this position, but Ron DeSantis was,” Castor said.

The shutdown impacted federal employees and contractors.

“This didn’t have to happen,” Castor said, adding that even after a compromise was reached, “Ron DeSantis voted no.”

“This demonstrates how extreme he is, how irresponsible … and what kind of governor he would be,” Castor said.

U.S. Representative Lois Frankel, whose district includes West Palm Beach, called DeSantis “one of the most extreme and irresponsible members of Congress.”

“It’s one thing to be the guy who says no to everything [in Congress],” Frankel said, but his extremism raises questions about why he wants to be Governor.

Frankel, like Castor, outlined consequences of the shutdown, before saying DeSantis “isn’t the guy we need to be governor.”

Former U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy, who served at the time with DeSantis, added that DeSantis was “putting himself above people” and “trying to appeal to a small group of Tea Party members.”

“He’s a follower of a very small group of people … putting politics over policy,” Murphy said.

“The notion that you would shut down the government on a bill that isn’t going anywhere” nettled Murphy, who said it was “unacceptable … to put your politics over the people.”

Florida politicians react to the passing of John McCain

The family of U.S. Sen. John McCain, Arizona’s senior senator and the 2008 Republican nominee for president, announced his death after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Florida’s political leaders remembered the longtime Senate leader.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, elected in 2010, issued a statement mourning McCain.

“John McCain’s sacrifices to his country are immeasurable. With his passing today, America has lost more than a leader and more than a senator. We have lost a true American hero. As a colleague in the Senate and a friend, I drew personal inspiration from his leadership, intellect and moral courage. He set the standard for what we should expect from our soldiers and from our public servants of all levels. In this time of grief, I hope John’s family finds comfort in knowing that this extraordinary man touched countless lives, and his memory will continue to set the standard of leadership and moral resolve for future generations.”

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat elected to the Senate in 2000, called McCain a friend a hero.

“John McCain was my friend and one of my heroes. He devoted his life to duty, honor and country. He shall always be a role model for me.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is running against Nelson this year, noted McCain’s military service.

“John McCain was a true American hero. As a Navy man myself, I’ve always had immense respect for Senator McCain. A lot of folks talk tough, but he was the real deal. From one Navy family to another, we extend our sincerest gratitude for his strength and perseverance. John will always be a beacon of hope and perseverance for America. He was a true fighter and fought every day for this country. We will miss him dearly but take comfort in knowing his legacy will live on forever.”

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother George W. defeated McCain in the Republican presidential primary in 2000, praised McCain’s lifetime of service.

“John McCain’s courageous and selfless lifetime of service is a profile in American exceptionalism. Prayers this evening for the Senator, Cindy and the entire McCain family.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi sent prayers to McCain’s family.

“US Senator John McCain was a war hero, a public servant and a great American. Our country is better for his service. My heart breaks, and my prayers are with Cindy, Meghan and the entire McCain family.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor, celebrated all stages of McCain’s service. “America lost one of her bravest defenders today. In a cockpit, an enemy prison, or the Senate chamber, John McCain fought for our nation’s values and freedoms, and sacrificed much in the journey. May God welcome him home and give comfort to his family.”

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis remembered his interaction with McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign.

“Katie, Theo and I had the honor to meet Senator McCain during his 2008 campaign for President. My family appreciates his sacrifices for our country and pray for strength for the McCain Family.”

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Democratic candidate for governor, spoke of the relationship between McCain and her father, former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. “Dad and @SenJohnMcCain formed a friendship serving together because John McCain was one of the rare statesman who could place public service before partisanship. He was a warrior and maverick all the way to the end. May he rest in peace.”

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor, praised McCain’s character. “We’ve lost a truly courageous leader tonight. John McCain’s integrity and love for our country was boundless. He led with a passion and purpose that we all aspire to. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends this difficult evening.”

Chris King, another Democratic candidate, posted a classic photo of McCain being honored for his service by President Richard Nixon.

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democratic candidate for governor, also remembered McCain. “His patriotism is beyond measure, his heroism beyond question, and his character is a role model for a life beautifully lived.”

Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw, a Democrat, also posted a picture of McCain with another president, former opponent Barack Obama.

Agriculture Commissioner candidate Baxter Troutman, a Republican, was among those mentioning McCain’s maverick reputation.

Chief Financial Officer candidate Jeremy Ring, a Democrat, called McCain a true patriot.

“So sad to hear of the passing of a true American Patriot and Hero . My prayers are with his family at this time as well as all the people he has touched throughout his eighty-one years. Senator McCain, THANK YOU for your service to the American people.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who as Florida’s Republican governor campaigned for McCain for president, remembered the senator.

“Tonight our country lost a true American hero. Honored to have called Senator McCain a friend. May God bless his loved ones during this time of loss.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat, echoed the thoughts. “America loses a true patriot in Senator John McCain. Honor him with independent thinking, love of country.”

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican, added his tribute to McCain. “John McCain was a true American patriot who sacrificed much for his country. He was a man of tremendous courage and will be missed.”

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Republican, released the following statement: “I am saddened at the passing of a true American hero, Senator John McCain. Senator McCain was a devoted family man, a passionate leader, and a dedicated public servant. He always put his country first, and as such he leaves behind an impressive legacy of service and sacrifice. The Bilirakis family was fortunate to call him a friend for many years. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. May his memory be eternal!”

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Democrat, also put out a statement: “”I was so incredibly saddened to hear the news of Senator John McCain’s passing. He was a classic Patriot and served our nation with honor and distinction. May his family find the peace that they need in this difficult time, and know that his legacy will forever endure. Throughout Senator McCain’s years of distinguished service, we all saw firsthand his integrity, humility, courage and grace. My thoughts and prayers are with his entire family. Senator McCain inspired a nation and will be dearly missed.”

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, shared a picture of herself with McCain and a message for his family. “An American hero passed away but his legacy will endure. A fighter through and through, was a patriot and a true American hero. Dexter and I were proud to know him.”

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican, said he felt honored to have served in Washington with McCain. “ was a true hero. Honored to have known him and served in Washington with him. Thinking of the McCain family and all who loved him tonight. Rest in peace Maverick.”

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford was among those celebrating McCain’s military contributions. “I am saddened by the passing of Senator John McCain and thank him for his service to our nation both in the Navy and in Congress. For decades, his dedication to his country, his family, and his principles have served as an example to us all.”

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Democrat, said he was incredibly saddened to hear of McCain’s death. “He embodied true patriotism and was a man of unflinching integrity, who went above and beyond the call of duty in service to our country. This is a profound loss for our nation.”

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat, recalled a diplomatic trip the two lawmakers took together to Vietnam. “Patriot. Hero. Public Servant. Maverick. Senator McCain will be missed by this nation. As a Vietnamese refugee, I will treasure the memory of visiting Vietnam with talking about our deep and mutual love for America. Rest In Peace, Senator. Your legacy lives on.”

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, a Democrat, simply thanked McCain for his candor. “Thank you for your service to our country, for your courage and for your candor!”

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, a Republican, said McCain exemplified the best of the United States. “Sen. John McCain dedicated his entire life to serving our nation. As a Navy Veteran, a war hero, and later through his service in Congress, he exemplified the best this country has to offer as a statesman. My prayers are with the McCain family during this difficult time.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican, issued a lengthy statement celebrating McCain’s life from the military to his Senate service. “Generations to come will benefit from his selfless dedication to duty and country.”

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat, simply passed along her regrets at the news.

Florida Senate President Joe Negron celebrated McCain’s military record. “We are keeping the McCain family in our prayers as they grieve this incredible loss. Senator McCain was an American hero who served the cause of freedom throughout his entire life. He endured suffering most of us cannot imagine. We are so grateful for his service and sacrifice.”

State Rep. Jason Fischer also made note of McCain’s naval record. “Fair winds and following seas, shipmate. We have the watch.”

State Rep. Shevrin Jones demonstrated the bipartisan affection for the senator, saying McCain “was an example of what courage, strength, and civility in the process looked like. Today, let us honor him for showing the world that it can be done. To a true American legend and hero, Rest In Peace.”

Miami Beach City Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, a Democratic candidate for Congress in South Florida, released the following statement: “It is a sad day today for all Americans. I may not have always agreed with Sen. John McCain, but I always respected him. He was a true American hero who fought for what he believed in — both in war and in Washington — and was a true representative of his people, not special interests. He was a warrior, a statesman, a model for us all. His death Saturday can be mourned by both Republicans and Democrats because Sen. McCain wasn’t afraid to cross the aisle, or challenge his own party and its leaders, when he felt he had to. Twice, he refused to support GOP legislation to end the Affordable Healthcare Act. His example and his leadership will be missed.”

Jesse Phillips, Seminole County Republican state committeeman, mentioned McCain sometimes upset his base but always inspired respect. “Love him or hate him, the maverick embodied so much of what makes America great.”

Christian Whitfield, Jacksonville City Council candidate, honored McCain’s service record. “Elizabeth and I would like to send our condolences to the family and to our fellow and shipmate sleep in peace sir, we have the watch.”

Hawthorne Mayor Matt Surrency recalled a famous moment when McCain dismissed false theories about Obama even in the midst of the presidential race.

This story will be updated as more leaders release statements.

Mike Alvarez rolls out new digital ads in HD 62 primary

Tampa Democrat Mike Alvarez has launched a new digital ad campaign that contrasts his record against that of his chief rival in the Democratic primary for House District 62, School Board member Susan Valdes.

Sample ads provided by the campaign say that “District 62 has a choice,” with the one half of the ad featuring a full-color shot Alvarez and a caption saying he “hired people from our own neighborhoods,” and the opposite half featuring a red-tinted picture of Valdes and a caption saying she “fired people to protect her political career.”

The Alvarez campaign said the Valdes portion of the ad relates to a lawsuit filed by a former Hillsborough Schools employee who said she was fired after refusing to go along with an effort by Valdes’ to get one of her friends a district job. The Alvarez campaign also highlighted Valdes’ role in closing the school district’s construction department to avoid questions on shoddy work performed by campaign donors she steered contracts to.

Alvarez, by contrast, says he’s spent the past several years building up and making hires for Westfall Roofing, where he works as the director of operations.

“When I’m walking our neighborhoods and talking with voters, they want to know what I stand for and how that compares to my opponent,” said Alvarez, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “This is another way we can inform voters about our records so they can make their own choice about who represents our Democratic values.

“We’re making sure that voters know that I’m the real Democrat in the race,” he continued.

The Democratic primary for the Tampa-based seat has been contentious, not to mention odd, since Valdes entered the race shortly before the end of the candidate qualifying period.

Her paperwork to run for the seat, was of questionable legitimacy and emails show she pulled strings to have it accepted by the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections office. Rather than address questions surrounding her candidacy, she went on the attack, accusing Alvarez of mudslinging.

Weeks later, her campaign was again embroiled in scandal after a video surfaced of her dodging a question about whether she would accept campaign contributions from charter schools. In the wake of that video going semi-viral, the Valdes campaign threatened to pull strings and have the man who recorded it fired from his job at the State Attorney’s office.

Again, Valdes’ response to the allegations only raised further questions, as she claimed the man who made the threats — a consultant that had sent out official communications for her campaign — was not affiliated with her and was merely “a supporter who is incredibly passionate.”

And two weeks ago, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor weighed in on the race by endorsing Alvarez and offering a scathing rebuke of Valdes, whom she accused of breaking the law and misleading voters by falsely claiming to have the Congresswoman’s endorsement.

She ended her endorsement by undercutting Valdes credentials on the School Board, saying that “if you support public schools, if you share our Democratic values, and if you want honesty from your elected officials, vote for Mike Alvarez.”

Alvarez and Valdes are running alongside Chris Cano in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary for HD 62, currently held by House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, who is running for state Senate and has endorsed Valdes as her successor.

The district is one of five state legislative seats, including three in the Tampa Bay area, to have its primary election locked down by a write-in candidate.

One of Alvarez’ ads is below.

Joe Henderson: Andrew Learned knows about the extra mile

Andrew Learned took time off Sunday from his campaign represent Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

Instead of hanging out or lounging around the house though, Learned competed in the Siesta Key Triathlon. He finished 13th overall.

Supporters shouldn’t fret though. He was back on the trail by midafternoon, tweeting his disdain for President Trump and other political matters.

I mention this because he is a Democrat and the district he wants to represent covers largely conservative parts of eastern Hillsborough and Polk counties and has generally regarded as reliably Republican.

Conventional wisdom says that a Democrat can’t win there.

If politics has shown us nothing else in the last couple of years though, that seems to matter less and less.

For the last year he has been essentially going door-to-door throughout the district, accepting every invitation to meet with civic groups, attending house parties, and building relationships the old-fashioned way — making time, listening, and when asked a question choosing direct answers over talking points.

He is personable, just 32 years old, confident, he has a compelling personal story, too.

He grew up in Valrico and graduated from the University of Tampa, and later interned for a pair of Hillsborough County Commissioners — Republican Mark Sharpe and Democrat Kevin Beckner.

“The first time I met him, I was really impressed,” Sharpe said. “He is a very sharp young man, and I’m not the least bit surprised that he is running for Congress. I’ve been really impressed with him. He has run a very smart campaign. I definitely think he can win.”

Learned was a Republican as a student majoring in economics and political science, but converted because, he said, “the Republican Party left me a long time ago” by its policies on public education, health care, women’s issues, immigration and tax policies that he says hurts the middle class and makes rich guys richer.

“All that money is flying off to the Caymans,” he said.

On his website, he addresses immigration like this:

”Besides the obvious policy of deporting Donald Trump and Stephen Miller, we need a new generation of leaders capable of adding some sanity and common sense to our country’s immigration policy.

“Ripping children from the arms of their parents as a deterrent is abhorrent. We should be striving to keep families together, welcoming our new neighbors, and helping them get on their feet so we can get them to work in our high-demand labor economy.”

That stance might make the hair stand up on the back of the necks of immigration hawks but Learned doesn’t care. If they want to accuse him of being soft on that subject, they should first understand that he is a Navy veteran who had three deployments to the Middle East.

While there, he led small teams on confrontations with Somali pirates. He was the Navy’s surface planner in Bahrain. And as he wryly notes, “It will be hard to beat me because I’m the only person with military experience in this race.”

And as he said to me with a big smile when we met recently at a Valrico Starbucks, “I got an F-rating from the NRA!”

He also has the support of several Democratic Party officials, including U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who has helped him in fundraising.

Even so, winning the nomination in the Aug. 28 primary won’t be easy.

Lakeland attorney Kristen Carlson jumped into the race just before the filing deadline in May. She has been endorsed by EMILY’S List, a group pushing for women to be elected to Congress and state legislatures, and that helped her jump into the fundraising lead. The Cook Political Report has tabbed her as the favorite among Democrats.

And while it said the district could go blue this fall, the report said it is still leaning Republican.

But Learned is not deterred.

He talks about his army of volunteers, contacting each eligible voter in the primary to tell his story. While we were talking, people were stopping by the outdoor table where we sat to shake his hand and just say hello.

Will it be enough?

We won’t know that until Aug. 28.

Here’s what we do know though. Even in a district that has been represented by Republican Dennis Ross, skeptics better beware before jumping to conclusions and thinking things can’t change.

Learned is in this race to win, and he knows something about going the extra mile.

Florida Realtors release third wave of legislative endorsements

Florida Realtors PAC, the political arm of the state’s largest professional trade association, gave its blessing to another five candidates running for state legislative seats in the fall.

Making the cut in the new round of endorsements were five state House candidates, three of them Republicans and two of them Democrats.

In southeastern Hillsborough County’s HD 57, businessman and U.S. Army veteran Sean McCoy got the nod over fellow Republican Mike Beltran and Democratic nominee Debbie Katt. The three are running to succeed Republican Rep. Jake Raburn, who announced in June he would not run for a fourth term in the Republican-leaning district.

In neighboring HD 59, the Florida Realtors picked Dover Republican Joe Wicker in the three-way race to succeed current Rep. Ross Spano, who is competing for the GOP nomination in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. Wicker faces former Hillsborough County commissioner and state Sen. Ronda Storms in the primary, with Riverview Democrat Adam Hattersley waiting to face the winner of that contest in November.

In Tampa-based HD 61, the endorsement went to Democrat Dianne Hart. Hart is running for the seat a second time after losing to Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw by just 101 votes in the 2016 primary for the for the Democratic stronghold. She faces Shaw’s pick, attorney Karen Skyers, as well as Sharon Carter and Norman Harris in the primary, which is one of a handful that will be locked down due to the so-called “write-in loophole.”

Florida Realtors said School Board member Susan Valdes was their pick to succeed House Minority Leader Janet Cruz in HD 62. The nod marks the first significant endorsement for Valdes since she launched her campaign with Cruz’ support, though she has claimed an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a move that earned her a harsh rebuke from the congresswoman earlier this week. Valdes faces Mike Alvarez and Chris Cano in the Democratic primary, which will also be locked down due to a write-in.

The final endorsement went out to North Fort Myers Republican Spencer Roach, who is vying to succeed Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell in HD 79. He faces Alva Republican Matthew Shawn Miller in the Republican primary. The winner of the GOP nom will face North Fort Myers Democrat Mark Lipton in November, though their victory will be all but assured given the Lee County seat’s deep-red lean.

Florida Realtor’s Friday announcement marks their “third wave” of endorsements for Florida House and Senate races set for the 2018 ballot. Including the first and second waves, the trade association has endorsed legislative candidates in 108 of the 115 races that weren’t decided without opposition.

The trade association has also issued recommendations for four contenders in the statewide races for Governor, Agriculture Commissioner, Attorney General and Chief Financial Officer.

Kathy Castor backs Mike Alvarez, admonishes Susan Valdes in HD 62

Tampa Democrat Mike Alvarez landed a major backer Thursday as his chief rival in the three-way Democratic primary for House District 62, School Board member Susan Valdes, notched another campaign gaffe.

The new endorsement came in from U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents Florida’s 14th Congressional District, a territory that includes the Tampa-based state House seat Alvarez is gunning for.

“Democrat Mike Alvarez is the clear choice to represent the heart of Tampa in the Florida House of Representatives and I’m proud to endorse his campaign,” Castor said. “We need a true public servant who will fight for better public schools, bring investment to all our communities and create higher-wage jobs.”

The congresswoman joins the Florida Education Association, the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association and the Florida AFL-CIO in endorsing Alvarez, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who was the first-in candidate for the seat.

“Congresswoman Castor is exactly the kind of public servant I aspire to be. She’s leading the fight to protect our public schools, increase affordable housing, and stand up to Donald Trump,” Alvarez said. “I look forward to continuing my work with her and all of our Democratic leaders to stand up for our values. I’m truly humbled to have her support.”

But along with the endorsement came another boon for Team Alvarez: A harsh rebuke of Valdes for a campaign mailer she sent out that falsely touted an endorsement from Castor.

“I am disappointed that the latest communication from Susan Valdes is inconsistent with Florida law and implies my endorsement of her campaign,” Castor said. “It is imperative that candidates follow the law to ensure fairness and transparency. Florida Law leaves no room for doubt or confusion — it is unlawful to represent that you have a person’s support unless you have their permission in writing.

“Let me be clear, the candidate in this race who has my endorsement and support is Mike Alvarez. If you support public schools, if you share our Democratic values, and if you want honesty from your elected officials, vote for Mike Alvarez,” Castor concluded.

The law referenced by the congresswoman is found in Chapter 106.143(4) of the Florida Statutes. It reads as follows: “It is unlawful for any candidate or person on behalf of a candidate to represent that any person or organization supports such candidate, unless the person or organization so represented has given specific approval in writing to the candidate to make such representation.”

A violation of that rule can result in civil fees.

Valdes’ misstep is the latest in a string of head scratchers she’s made since entering the race.

She kicked off her campaign with a resign-to-run letter of questionable legitimacy, and weeks later a video surfaced of her dodging a question about whether she would accept campaign contributions from charter schools. In the wake of that video going semi-viral, Valdes’ campaign threatened to pull strings and have the man who recorded it fired from his job at the State Attorney’s office.

Alvarez and Valdes are running alongside Chris Cano in the Democratic primary for HD 62, currently held by House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, who is running for state Senate and has endorsed Valdes as her successor.

HD 62 is one of five state legislative seats, including three in the Tampa Bay area, to have its primary election locked down by a write-in candidate.

The primary election is Aug. 28. Valdes’ mailer is below.

Sean Shaw

Democratic U.S. Reps. line up behind Sean Shaw for Attorney General

Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw picked up endorsements from eight Democratic members of Florida’s congressional delegation Wednesday, less than four weeks from the primary election to determine whether he or Ryan Torrens be the Democratic option in November.

Lining up behind Shaw were U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Darren Soto and Frederica Wilson.

While each member of Congress listed in the announcement had kind words for the freshman state representative, the most personal recommendation — and the lone shot at term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi — came from Castor, who represents Shaw as the Congresswoman for Florida’s 14th Congressional District.

“I am excited to announce my endorsement for Sean Shaw for Attorney General of Florida. I have had the pleasure of working with Sean to improve the lives of Floridians and know that he’ll fight for the values that we share as Democrats,” she said. “Unlike the current Attorney General, Sean will stand up to the special interests that have flooded our streets with weapons and push back against companies determined to rip off Floridians. Sean Shaw is the best choice for Attorney General of Florida.”

Other statements celebrated Shaw’s accomplishments in the House and during his tenure as Florida’s insurance consumer advocate under former CFO Alex Sink as well as the service of his father, Leander Shaw, who was Florida’s first African-American Supreme Court Justice.

The new slate of endorsements adds to a list that already includes SEIU Florida, the Florida Education Association,  the Florida Police Benevolent Association, a handful of State Attorneys as well as former Florida Governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.

“I’ll be ready on day one to fight back against the current Administration’s actions that are harmful to Floridians and I am proud to have the support our so many of Florida’s Democratic members of Congress who have already been battling Trump for nearly the past two years,” Shaw said. “Whether it’s in Tallahassee or Washington, I look forward to working towards a better future for Florida.”

Shaw, who entered the race at the beginning of the year, is the heavy favorite in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.

To date, the Tampa Democrat has raised nearly $839,000 between his campaign and political committee, Sean Shaw for Florida, and had about $424,000 on hand on July 20. Torrens, an Odessa attorney, has barely kept his campaign in the black, and some of his contributions — or loans, according to his campaign — have come into question in recent weeks.

The winner of the Democratic nomination will face the winner of the Republican primary between former circuit court judge Ashley Moody and Pensacola Rep. Frank White in the Nov. 6 general election.

Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz call on Donald Trump to cancel Vladimir Putin meetup

Florida congressmen Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz joined national Democrats calling for President Donald Trump to cancel an upcoming meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Deutch and Frankel signed onto a stern letter from Democrats on the House Foreign Relations Committee sharply criticizing Trump’s meeting with Putin.

“Unfortunately, due to your constant expressions of sympathy for Vladimir Putin, your conflicts of interest, and your attacks on our closest allies, we do not have faith that you can faithfully negotiate with the Russian leader, and we urge you to cancel the meeting,” the letter closes.

Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat, furthered criticism of Trump in his own message on Twitter, where he asserted the president believes Putin over U.S. intelligence when it comes to election interference.

House Democrats issued the letter the same day a fresh round of indictments came out of FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling. The Tampa Bay Times notes those indictments show efforts specifically involving Florida election efforts.

Weston Democrat Wasserman Schultz suggested on Twitter that Trump cancel the meeting and “use the opportunity to publicly call on Russia to extradite the 12 Russian intelligence officials who were just indicted for interfering in the 2016 election.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, also made note Florida elections offices had been targeted by Russian meddling, and said Trump should demand criminals be turned over and “quit denying that criminal conspiracy took place.”

On that part, Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio also strongly said Putin’s meddling was clear. “I don’t ‘believe’ Putin interfered in our elections,” Rubio tweeted. “I know for a fact he did.” He went on to criticize the partisan nature of media reaction to the Muller indictments.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, while less sharp in his critique than Democratic colleagues in the House, also said the indictments should be a “wake-up call for all Americans.” The Democrat did not go so far as to call for Trump to cancel his meeting.

Internal poll gives Kristen Carlson lead among CD 15 Dems

Lakeland attorney Kristen Carlson entered the Democratic primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District only two days before the deadline, but a poll released by her staff shows her ahead of her two opponents, each of whom has been running for the spot for a year or more.

The poll’s frequency count shows Carlson ahead with 25 to 14 percent for Andrew Learned of Valrico, with 10 percent for Ray Pena of Lakeland. Six-percent said, “someone else” (at least two other candidates dropped out before qualifying). Forty-five percent were undecided.

The poll was conducted June 14 -17 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, using 401 residents determined to be likely Democratic primary voters in CD 15. The margin of sampling error is near 5 percentage points. Live interviewers conducted the poll.

According to Source Watch, the Washington D.C.-based Greenberg Quinlan is a political research and campaign firm that works closely with the Democratic Party and has experience internationally, as well.

Researchers said that when voters learned of the three candidates after the initial question, Carlson’s numbers rose higher.

Carlson campaign manager, Conor Hurley, said the online biography posted by each candidate was read in its entirety before asking each voter for their preference a second time.

“I looked at the same things they put out and couldn’t figure out where that came from,” Learned said. “The campaign has barely started.”

EMILY’s List is endorsing Carlson. Her finances show a list of hefty donations from many regular donors.

Learned also has the support of several Democratic Party officials, including U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who has helped him in fundraising. Former candidate Greg Williams of Lakeland left the race to publicly endorse and work for Learned.

The rush by Democrats is the pending retirement of CD 15 Republican incumbent Congressman Dennis Ross of Lakeland and their assessment that the district is winnable.

The Democratic winner of the Aug. 28 primary elections goes on to face the winner of the heavily crowded Republican primary, which has six candidates in the race.

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