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Mitch Perry Report for 11.8.16 — Getting the results before the polls close

The last presidential contest I really didn’t pay that much attention to was back in 1980, but I do remember this: I was in high school, and I had the TV on but the sound down when Jimmy Carter came out at around 6:15 PST to announce he was conceding the election. It was pretty early in the evening, but it was obvious Carter wasn’t going to catch up to Ronald Reagan that night.

Although Carter wanted to get the misery over with, his early concession speech angered people in California on the West Coast, where there were still hours before the polls closed. Every election since then (except for those that went into overtime), have not been declared by the networks and the Associated Press until 11 p.m. Eastern, when all the polls are closed.

That is supposed to change tonight.

As reported by POLITICO on Monday, “Slate and Vice News have partnered with Votecastr, a company helmed by Obama and Bush campaign veterans, to provide real-time projections of how the candidates are faring in each state throughout the day. They expect to begin posting projections at 8 a.m. Eastern time on Election Day — a dramatic departure from current practice, where representatives from a consortium of news organizations (The Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News) huddle in a quarantine room without cell phones, poring over the earliest exit poll data but declining to release anything that points to an election result until all the polls have closed.”

POLITICO also will be working with Morning Consult to conduct a survey of voters after they have cast ballots. Voters will complete the interviews over the internet, beginning one hour after the polls open in their state. Respondents will be asked whether they have voted, and how they voted: either using early voting, by mail or on Election Day in person. POLITICO and Morning Consult will report on some of the results during the day.

I don’t know what any of this means, but let’s face it: in recent elections, people sit around most of the day on Election Day, with nothing to do with polls being meaningless (“the only poll that matters is on Election Day”) but no returns to review until the early evening.

There is some of that infamous exit poll research the networks will start reporting on after 5 p.m. but we all learned after 2004 not to take them too seriously, right, President Kerry?

Personally, I’ll be interested in some House races in Hillsborough County which could go either way — in House Districts 59, 60, and 63.

Have a great day.

In other news …

HART CFO Jeff Seward is going to the International Climate Change Conference in the U.K. next spring, the first representative from a North American transit agency to be invited to the annual event.

On the eve of a Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission meeting on a temporary agreement with Uber and Lyft, a limousine company based in Tampa says they want to become a ridesharing company as well, and is going to court to challenge the agency.

Marco Rubio made a last-day campaign appearance in Brandon yesterday, where he said he thinks the increase in Latino voters in the early vote bodes well for his chances tonight.

Eric Seidel is thinking he can peel off some wayward Democrats in his bid to defeat Pat Frank in the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Courts race tonight.

In a Vice News interview last night, Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the Bernie Sanders campaign made her into a “bogeyman” for her role at the DNC.


Ex-Gov. Charlie Crist aims for political comeback in House

It’s a sunny fall day at Williams Park in downtown St. Petersburg, and Charlie Crist is in his element.

“What’s your name?,” he purrs to a woman in a wheelchair, taking her hand. He beams a white smile that matches his snow-white hair, contrasting with his tan face. “May I get a picture?” he asks, bending down on one knee. The woman giggles.

Crist, a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat, is a former governor, former state attorney general and was on the short list to be Sen. John McCain‘s vice presidential running mate in 2008. This year, he’s setting his sights on a seat in the U.S. House.

Democrats are counting on Crist and other candidates to make significant inroads into the Republicans’ commanding House majority. Florida offers at least three potential Democratic gains as the party tries to cobble together a 30-seat pickup.

Crist, a 60-year-old lawyer, faces Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. David Jolly. The race may be one of the few nationally in which the Republican candidate is using Donald Trump against the Democrat, noting that Trump helped Crist raise money when he was with the GOP.

“It’s a crazy year,” Crist says.

He hopes it’s his year.

Crist has the hometown advantage — he was raised in St. Petersburg — and is running in a redrawn district that includes more African-Americans.

Jolly, who has represented the 13th Congressional District since 2014, is hoping Crist’s complicated political past will make him vulnerable.

“The fundamental issue is trust. Everybody knows Charlie, they know he’s been on every side of the issue,” Jolly says. “By most polls, this will be a neck-and-neck race.”

A recent poll by St. Pete Polls shows Crist with a narrow lead, while another tally by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory at the University of North Florida shows Crist leading Jolly 54 percent to 36.

Crist, who was governor from 2007 to 2011, ran for Senate as a Republican in 2010 but lost to Marco Rubio in the primary. Crist quit the Republican Party, ran in the general election as an independent and lost. He switched party affiliation again, becoming a Democrat, and ran unsuccessfully for governor against Rick Scott in 2014.

The 43-year-old Jolly has his own complications. He earlier had announced he would run for U.S. Senate, but when Rubio dropped out of the presidential race and said he would run for re-election, Jolly got out of that race.

Jolly says his biggest accomplishments are taking on campaign finance reform and backing a bill that would prohibit members of Congress from directly soliciting campaign contributions.

Jolly set himself apart from many Republicans by refusing to fundraise for the national party while working in Washington. And he refuses to endorse Trump.

“I’ve been fully abandoned by the Republican Party,” Jolly said. Still, he’s done pretty well with fundraising; as of Sept. 30, he’s raised $1.75 million to Crist’s $1.4 million. But Crist is getting help from the Democratic Party and other political action committees.

And Trump has become another flashpoint in the campaign.

In September, Jolly released a video that says Trump helped Crist raise money several times when Crist was a Republican.

And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aired television ads using doctored photos to make it appear Jolly and Trump are pals. Only this week did Crist denounce the ad.

That negative ad turned some Crist voters off.

“I may end up voting for Jolly out of spite for the Democrats putting out negative information,” said Joe Jordan, a 36-year-old IT professional.

Crist touts his record on education, the economy and the environment, and says he supports a woman’s right to choose.

In the St. Petersburg park, he smiles at Velva Lee Heraty and her miniature Shih Tzu. Heraty shows him photos of when he walked little Miss Nena outside a cafe.

“That was two years ago,” Heraty says.

Crist gives her a serious look. That’s when Gov. Scott defeated him by a single percentage point.

“Two years ago. We’re hoping for a better result this time,” Crist says.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Marco Rubio is confident heavy Latino turnout will help him win Senate race

BRANDON — Although Marco Rubio is a clear favorite to win re-election to his U.S. Senate seat tomorrow night, he wasn’t doing a victory lap when he made a visit to the Hillsborough County Republican Party headquarters in Brandon Monday morning.

“Two-hundred and seventy-five thousand Republicans who requested a mail ballot have not returned it yet,” he told the crowd who surrounded him inside the small lobby area of the office. “We’re going to have to start guiding them, because if they have a ballot and haven’t put it in the mail yet, they’re not going to be able to vote unless they show up with that ballot, so we gotta walk ’em through that process.”

“Please come out and vote,” he implored the crowd. “What if this race comes to down to 100 votes? Whether it’s for president, senator or Congress, what if it’s one of those years? Do you want to be one of those 100 people that decided not to vote?”

Rubio has led his Democratic rival, Patrick Murphy, in virtually every poll taken between the two Senate candidates in Florida all year long. However, the Murphy camp was playing up a SurveyMonkey poll released Monday that actually shows him up by a single point, 49 percent to 48 percent. A Quinnipiac survey, however, showed the norm, with Rubio up 50 percent to 43 percent.

An emerging story that has come out of the past two weeks of early voting in Florida has been the explosion of Latino voters. Rubio has always held a substantial lead Murphy with that key demographic in polls of the Senate race, and the Cuban-American legislator said he’s earned the support of the Hispanic community.

“I don’t think anyone understands the issues in the Hispanic community better than I do,” he said. “I live in the community — my wife is from the community as well, so for me these are not political issues when we discuss them, they are things I’ve lived. It’s my life.” Rubio said there’s no one one in the Senate who has worked harder or spent more time on Latin American issues than he has. He added that it’s the beginning of a new era in politics if the much-vaunted potential of a strong Hispanic vote actually takes place this year. “I’m glad they’re voting, because that means from here on out, every candidate for statewide office and for president is going to have to care about the Hispanic community in Florida, and that’s a good thing,” he said.

There have been anecdotal reports that some in the Latino community are splitting their ticket in Florida: voting for Hillary Clinton as a statement against Donald Trump for president, but then coming back and supporting Rubio in the Senate contest. This morning marked yet another time when both Trump and Rubio were campaigning in Florida — separately, however, and not at the same event.

“We want everyone’s vote,” Rubio said. “I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president, but people are going to have to make their own decisions. “

Dover GOP House District 59 Republican Ross Spano introduced Rubio to the crowd. Spano backed Rubio in the presidential primaries earlier this year until he dropped out after his devastating loss in the Florida primary to Trump, where he won only Miami-Dade County.

“We need men and women like Sen. Rubio to represent us,” said Spano, calling him “one of the brightest, strongest political figures that have come on the stage in several decades.”

Spano is himself running in what could be an extremely close race for re-election, against attorney Rena Frazier. Unlike Spano, however, Frazier never went up on the air with a television ad.

Meanwhile, Rubio refused to comment on whether or not he supported Amendment One, the solar power initiative which comes heavily funded from the public utility industry in Florida. He did say once again he is opposing Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative, saying, “if they want to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes they should go through the FDA process to be approved just like any other medicine, but I’m not in favor of the way it was drafted and where I think it will take Florida.”

Lenny Curry talks Election 2016 at Jacksonville Marco Rubio HQ

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has been an enthusiastic supporter and friend of Sen. Marco Rubio, dating back to a time before Rubio was in the U.S. Senate.

Evidence of that political symbiosis abounds in more recent memory.

Rubio was a prominent backer of Curry’s mayoral bid, coming into town for a rally the day before the May 2015 election that swept Curry into office over Alvin Brown, the Democratic incumbent considered unassailable by media types.

Curry backed Rubio in the Florida presidential primary, undaunted by polls headed up to the March vote that showed Trump poised to take Duval County and the rest of the state.

Beyond politics, the two have functioned well in the policy realm, with Curry and Rubio working together to offer long-delayed, meaningful redress for the residents of some of Jacksonville’s most neglected HUD properties.

During that brief period after Rubio left the presidential race, there was some question as to whether he would run for re-election after all.

Curry was one of those who publicly urged Rubio to reconsider his decision to leave the Senate, saying, “we need Marco Rubio for the skills he brings to the table.”

Rubio, of course, ran, dispatching Carlos Beruff in the primary before a more competitive general election battle against Patrick Murphy.

On Monday morning, Curry was showing support for Rubio again, thanking volunteers at a Southside Jacksonville HQ.

Rubio, Curry said, “reached out last week” to ask Curry to help “get the message out” and “get people to turn out.”

“A whole lot of us pushed him to run again,” Curry added.

“This is an important election,” Curry said, from “the top of the ticket on down,” especially the U.S. Senate.

There, Curry said, Rubio’s “strong voice” and willingness to engage on “tough issues” stand out.

Among the topics that came up with media: early voting.

“Early voting is becoming the new normal,” Curry said.

Regarding the gap of over 4,000 votes between Democrats and Republicans in Duval County, Curry emphasized the importance of “ground game” to close that gap for the GOP side.

There are a variety of opinions as to how Duval’s vote distribution ultimately will shake out.

Duval County typically goes red on Election Day.

But this is an atypical year, with changes in voting patterns and a realignment of the GOP along Trumpian lines providing meaningful wildcards that preclude precise forecasting of how the election will go, in Duval and everywhere else.

New Florida poll shows Marco Rubio at 50%, Patrick Murphy at 43%

Sen. Marco Rubio has a big lead over Rep. Patrick Murphy in Florida’s U.S. Senate race.

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Rubio leads Murphy, 50 percent to 43 percent. The poll found 7 percent of respondents said they were either voting for someone else or didn’t know.

The latest poll of 884 likely Florida voters was conducted from Nov. 3 through Nov. 6. It has a margin of error of 3.3 percent.

Rubio has the backing of 93 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independent voters, and 8 percent of Democrats. The survey found 48 percent of respondents who said they already voted backed Rubio, compared to 46 percent who said they voted for Murphy.

Murphy has the backing of 88 percent of Democrats, 39 percent of independents, and 3 percent of Republicans.

The Miami Republican has led in nearly every poll since he announced he was running for re-election in June. Three polls conducted since June 25 showed the two men tied, according to RealClearPolitics. Rubio led in all of the other polls used by RealClearPolitics to calculate the polling average.

Duval Democrats win early voting by 4,200 votes, hold slender turnout lead

The Republican Party of Duval County knows now how far behind it is in the turnout battle.

With early voting wrapped up and a total of 297,616 Duval County voters having made their choices, Democratic turnout outpaced that of Republicans by a margin of 126,687 to 122,464. An additional 48,465 NPA voters have turned out thus far.

In Duval pre-Election Day voting, 42.5 percent of voters are Democrats, 41.1 percent are Republicans, and NPA voters comprise the additional 16.4 percent.

And turnout at the end of the early voting period is 50.6 percent — an unprecedented number and a signal of a shift in voting patterns among both parties.

The Democrats were aggressive in GOTV, bringing Bill Clinton through via bus to thank a small crowd of supporters, and having former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Rev. Jesse Jackson participate in GOTV efforts over the weekend.

The Democrats finally took the lead in early voting on Saturday, which (for what it’s worth) underperformed the Democratic machine in the 2015 mayoral race, which saw Democrats take the early voting lead on the last Friday of early voting.

If Republicans or other skeptics are looking for signs of depressed turnout among the Democratic base, they may find them there.

Monday sees Republican campaigns making their play for Election Day turnout, which typically swings GOP.

On Monday morning, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and Mayor Lenny Curry will swing by the Marco Rubio office and “thank volunteers.”

On Monday afternoon, Dr. Ben Carson visits the Donald Trump HQ at 3428 Beach Blvd.

Mike Hill: We must demand a commander in chief and Senate fit to serve

Rep. Mike Hill (YouTube)
Rep. Mike Hill 

I am proud of my service in the United States Air Force, and I know firsthand the honor it is to serve this great nation. I also know the complete trust we in the military must place in our commander in chief.

Our nation’s armed forces serve at the call of duty, at the orders of the commander in chief. The commander’s duty is to make calculated decisions that protect our troops, our citizens and our world.

Hillary Clinton’s actions on the night of the terrorist attack in Benghazi prove her to be unfit to be the commander in chief of the United States of America, period.

When Secretary Clinton was speaking with embassy officials during the siege, she should have had the understanding that those men needed help, they needed backup and they needed it immediately. It never came.

Clinton’s careless recklessness has not stopped, as the recent re-opening of her FBI investigation shows.

That’s not the sort of leadership we need in Florida, or our nation, and we certainly don’t need someone backing Clinton unquestioned.

Yet, here in Florida, we are not only choosing our next commander in chief, but we have a critical Senate race on the ballot as well.

In that Senate race, we have two stark choices: Patrick Murphy, who has campaigned on Clinton’s coattails, reiterating, despite the re-opening of an FBI investigation, and Marco Rubio, a proven leader on foreign policy, who fully grasps the threats the United States is facing today from around the globe.

Like Clinton, Murphy is now getting his own association with an FBI investigation, as news reports are beginning to expose an FBI investigation tied to an alleged straw donor scheme tied to Murphy.

Despite all of this, Murphy trusts Clinton. Still.

So, I have some news for Murphy: turning a blind eye to the gross miscalculations of a President is not the job of the United States Senate, no matter what party is in office. The job of the United States Senate is to serve as a check and balance on the executive office, to ensure our nation is represented by balanced interests; it is not to provide complacent support of whatever the executive office sees fit.

In contrast, we have the opportunity to re-elect Sen. Marco Rubio, who understands the dangers our nation faces abroad, dangers that are real, and incredibly serious. Marco has been unafraid throughout his career to stand up for what is right, no matter who it may offend. I’ve seen it firsthand and it’s a character trait that assures me he has our nation’s best interest at the forefront of his mind always, not a political party.


Pensacola Beach Republican Mike Hill represents District 2 in the Florida House of Representatives.

Democratic leaders rally around Stephanie Murphy to promote LGBT causes before final voting day

On the eve of early voting’s end Sunday night, Congressional District 7 hopeful Stephanie Murphy, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of House District 49 and Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf, who also works with the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, came together outside the Florida Coordinated Campaign office on Colonial Drive to promote the election of leaders who will advance LGBT issues and help curb gun violence.

The importance of the election was stressed by many of the speakers, even as they addressed the fact that people say that every time.

“The stakes could not be higher,” Smith opened. “I know we hear that every election. But for real.”

Smith said the LGBT community had seen a lot of progress in 2015 with the legalization of gay marriage, but with that also came backlash and strife as conservative lawmakers pushed back against the decision.

“Around the country, there were so-called “religious freedom” bills, that really just attempted to chip away at the rights of LGBT people,” he said, drawing a comparison to the similar attempts made by some politicians to chip away at women’s reproductive rights.

Because of both of those things as well as the devastation wrought upon the community after the June 12 Pulse nightclub attack, Smith said it was extremely important to send leaders to office who would stand up for their community.

Wolf recounted the nightmare of Pulse, saying the most surreal and gut-wrenching moment early on was the realization that two of his friends would never make it out of the club alive again. He criticized John Mica for accepting a donation from the gun lobby days after the Pulse shooting, and for not representing the LGBT community.

“Stephanie Murphy, unlike John Mica, is a real leader,” Wolf said. “Mica is despicable. All he sees is the dollar signs on the bottom of his checks from the NRA. He’s still standing with the gun lobby. There is only one person in this race fighting for me,” he said, referring of course to Murphy.

He also hit Marco Rubio on similar notes, accusing Rubio of being an opportunist using the Pulse attack to further his own political ambitions.

“After the Pulse attack happened, Rubio said ‘now I have to return to the Senate,’” Wolf said. “He said he’d fight for the people he’s been stepping on for years, then returned to Washington and voted down a gun control bill. He took my pain and used it as a stepladder to revive a failed political career.”

Murphy attacked Mica on his zero percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign and his A rating from the NRA, and said she was proud of her own endorsements from pro-LGBT groups and other tangentially related ones.

“As a teacher, I don’t usually advocate getting F’s,” she said, “but I’m so proud of my F from the NRA. I was the first candidate endorsed by the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, and I was endorsed by the Americans for Responsible Solutions. These endorsements are a reflection of my values.”

Contrasting Mica’s record against the LGBT community, including voting against gay marriage and for the First Amendment Defense Act Murphy claimed would allow for discrimination against LGBT individuals, versus her own pledge to fight for the rights of everyone, Murphy said she believed she was “on the right side of history.”

“Where you stand on LGBT rights can be seen as a litmus test for your humanity,” she said. “In that respect, Mica has failed.”

Joe Biden, Jimmy Buffett to hold GOTV rally in St. Petersburg on Monday

Jimmy Buffett has a message for Floridians: Get out and vote.

Buffett is scheduled to perform at a get out the vote rally for Democrats Hillary Clinton, Patrick Murphy, and Charlie Crist on Monday. The Florida music icon will be joined by Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife. The event comes just one day before Election Day, and is meant to encourage voters to get to the polls.

Murphy and Crist are also expected to attend. Murphy faces Sen. Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race, and trails Rubio in the polls an average of 3.2 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics. Crist, the former governor of Florida, is hoping to unseat Rep. David Jolly in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

The addition of the Bidens to the roster shows just how important Florida is to the presidential race. Clinton has an average lead of 1 percentage point over Donald Trump in the Sunshine State, according to RealClearPolitics. The margin isn’t much larger nationwide, where RealClearPolitics shows she has an average lead of 1.8 percentage points.

The vice president and his wife will attend a rally at 1:15 p.m. at Florida A&M University, 1668 South Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Tallahassee before heading to St. Petersburg.

Buffett is expected to perform a short set of songs with Country Music Musician of the Year Mac McAnally. The event is schedule for 5 p.m. at Albert Whitted Park, 480 Bayshore Drive SE in St. Petersburg. The event is free, but tickets are required.

‘Victory Lane’ reveals division between Marco Rubio, Northeast Florida Republicans

img_8424The most notable thing about Sen. Marco Rubio‘s last visit to Northeast Florida as a 2016 candidate: one last illustration of the fact that while he never actually got comfortable with the idea of Donald Trump as GOP standard bearer, one of his strongholds of support — Duval County — made peace with it long ago.

Consider the gap between the rhetoric of two of those who spoke before him (John Rutherford, GOP candidate in Florida’s 4th Congressional District, and State Sen. Aaron Bean).

Both men — who were enthusiastic speakers at Thursday’s Trump rally in Jacksonville — doubled down on that enthusiasm on Saturday night at a campaign event on Jacksonville’s Southside.

Rutherford’s voice boomed when he exhorted voters to “make America great again by voting for Donald J. Trump.”

Bean referred to a “packed house” of people who “want to make America great again.”

Rubio — as well as the man who introduced him on Saturday night, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera — demurred from such exhortation.

Lopez-Cantera didn’t address the top of the ticket at all.

Rubio, in his remarks, did what he’s done throughout the campaign: allude to the presidential race, while offering a tepid endorsement of the candidate by way of explaining the importance of the Senate race.

Rubio, after saying that North Florida is “victory lane for those who believe in limited government,” did say the “presidential race is extremely important,” as “we can’t afford a president under FBI investigation.”

Then, in discussing the current and future vacancies on the Supreme Court, the senator made an interesting observation.

“You can even survive a bad president,” but America “can’t survive as a republic” if the court goes liberal.

Rubio did allude to the 2000 presidential race, speculating on what 9/11 would have been like “if it had gone the other way,” speculating that 2016 is possibly a “100 vote election” before closing with one of his trademark paeans to American Exceptionalism.

The reality is this, however: if America needs to be made “great again,” Rubio’s observations about how America “being special is hard” carry less currency than they did in the pre-Trump world.

Rubio was the resounding choice of Northeast Florida politicians before the March primary.

Dignitaries were nowhere to be seen at Jacksonville’s jampacked Trump rally at the Jacksonville Landing.

It was only after Trump became the presumptive nominee that they got on board.

When Trump came back in August, the whole group was there: Rutherford, State Attorney Angela Corey, various council members, and (to the consternation of the chattering class) Mayor Lenny Curry.

Curry, a former Republican Party of Florida chair, was absent from the last Trump event in town. He’s taking a breather from campaign events down the stretch.

Curry has couched his support of Trump as the nominee in pragmatic terms, saying that as a Republican, he is supporting the Republican nominee.

What has become clear during the run up to Tuesday, however: Duval Republicans are enthusiastic about Trump.

And Trump’s vision — rooted in WikiLeaks revelations and a sharp critique of federal policy that has ravaged the middle class, via NAFTA, Bush/Obama foreign wars, and a post-2008 recovery that left behind what was left of that middle class — does not accord with that of Marco Rubio, whose paeans to America’s unique role in the world would be more at home in the Weekly Standard than amidst the “Lock Her Up” chants at Trump rallies.

If Rubio ever wants to run for president again, odds are good that he will have to re-calibrate his vision, incorporating swaths of populist rhetoric.

Barry Goldwater said it was like “hunting where the ducks are.”

The “ducks” have bought in to a Trumpian “America First” vision closer to that of Pat Buchanan than Bill Kristol.

It’s hard to imagine what will get them to respond to a call they clearly rejected in the 2016 cycle.

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