Patrick Murphy Archives - Florida Politics

Major conservative PAC backs Carlos Curbelo, Brian Mast

Conservative political committee Maverick PAC is backing Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Brian Mast this election cycle, both could face hard-fought re-election battles in the fall.

Maverick PAC, or MavPAC for short, focuses on getting young professionals engaged in the political process. It got started in the 2004 cycle and became known for hosting inexpensive fundraisers aimed at giving younger people access to politicians and top political operators. During the 2016 cycle, Maverick PAC raised over $3.5 million for federal candidates.

The political committee said it’s “unique” in that its membership nominates and votes on which candidates will get the PAC’s support come election time.

Curbelo, Mast and another 44 candidates are on the MavPAC roster, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, whose current term runs through 2022. The PAC in the past named Curbelo, a former member, one of its “Future 40.”

Curbelo represents Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which was one of just 23 House seats nationwide — and one of two in Florida — to vote in favor of Hillary Clinton for president while also sending a Republican to Congress. Clinton won the district by 16 points, while Curbelo beat former Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia 53-41.

In 2018, four Democrats are vying to knock Curbelo out of his South Florida seat: Ricky Junquera, Steven Machat, Steve Smith and current primary race front-runner Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who had $162,000 cash on hand at the end of the third quarter compared to $1.3 million for Curbelo.

Mast represents Florida’s 18th Congressional District. He was first elected in 2016, beating out Democrat Randy Perkins 53-43 on Election Day. Democrat Patrick Murphy held the seat for the two terms prior, but gave it up to run for U.S. Senate against Rubio.

So far, two Democrats have filed to run against Mast in 2018: Lauren Baer and Pam Keith. Carla Spalding is also running as an independent. Baer leads the pack with $236,000 in her campaign account as of the end of the third quarter, while Keith has $64,000 on hand. Mast had $921,000 in the bank through the same date.

Baer and Keith got some encouraging news last month when a poll from left-leaning PPP found him winning by just one point, 45-44, against a generic Democrat. The survey also found him underwater on favorability, 40-45, and that his constituents were against the Republican tax plan he voted for 51-35.

New poll shows Brian Mast trailing hypothetical Democrat in 2018

A new poll found freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast is on thin ice with voters in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, especially after his vote in favor of the GOP’s tax reform plan.

A survey from the Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling found Mast had a 40 percent approval rating and 45 percent disapproval rating in the district, which puts his net favorability only a few points ahead of President Donald Trump, who garnered a 45 percent approval rating and 53 percent disapproval among CD 18 respondents.

PPP also pitted Mast against a generic Democrat in the poll and found him leading by a point, 45-44. Just over half of voters said they were less likely to vote for Mast due to his tax reform vote, which is underwater 51-35 in the district, and Mast’s slim lead dissipated once voters were told more information about the bill.

Phone surveyors told respondents that the tax bill would eliminate state and local tax deductions as well as the estate tax, which only applies to individuals with estates valued at more than $5.5 million or couples with estates worth more than $11 million. Respondents were also told the bill would add $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

With that information in hand, a hypothetical “Democratic opponent” saw a 3-point jump to take a 47-45 lead over the incumbent Republican.

The survey results likely gave some encouragement to the two Democrats running against Mast: Lauren Baer and Pam Keith.

Both candidates carry less baggage than 2016’s Democratic nominee, Randy Perkins, who faced questions about how he made his money throughout the race, including allegations that he overcharged school districts for debris removal.

Baer, a former U.S. State Department official under President Barack Obama, leads her primary rival with $250,000 raised through the end of the third quarter and had about $236,000 on hand. She has also picked up an endorsement from the Victory Fund gay rights advocacy group and, if elected, would be the Sunshine State’s first openly gay member of congress.

Keith, lost her bid for U.S. Senate in 2016, had raised $150,000 for her campaign through the end of September and had just under $64,000 in the bank. The Navy veteran and labor lawyer from Palm Beach Gardens picked up an endorsement from VoteVets, a progressive-politics organization dedicated to getting military veterans elected to public office.

Both Democrats trail Mast, also a military veteran. He has raised $1.58 million and has about $921,000 on hand, with no Republican Primary challenger in sight.

Despite the money advantage, the district will be a big priority for Democrats in 2018.

The district, which covers St. Lucie and Martin counties as well as the northeastern Palm Beach County, was held by Democrat Patrick Murphy for two terms before he decided to forego a re-election run for U.S. Senate, losing mightily to Marco Rubio on Election Day.

PPP surveyed 567 CD 18 voters via automated telephone interviews on Dec. 12 and Dec. 13. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percent.

Lantana Democrat Lori Berman

Lori Berman adds 31 local endorsements for SD 31 campaign

Democratic Rep. Lori Berman announced 31 endorsements for Senate District 31 special election bid Thursday, all of whom are current or former elected officials within the boundaries of the Palm Beach County district.

County level officials announced in the bulk endorsement included Mayor Melissa McKinlay, Vice Mayor Mack Bernard and County Commissioners Mary Lou Berger and Paulette Burdick, Tax Collector Anne Gannon, State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Clerk & Comptroller Sharon Bock, and School Board Members Marcia Andrews, Karen Brill, and Erica Whitfield.

“Lori is a tireless advocate for her constituents and a leader on behalf of Palm Beach County in the legislature,” Bernard said. “That is why I am endorsing Lori and look forward to working with her when she is in the Senate on behalf of Palm Beach County.”

Berman also picked up support from city officials in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Greenacres, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, South Palm Beach, Wellington and – of course – Lantana, where she lives.

“I am excited by the outpouring of support from so many of Palm Beach County’s mayors, commissioners, and councilmembers. In the legislature I have always fought for Palm Beach County, from successfully sponsoring legislation to build the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches for spring training for the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros to helping secure funding for Palm Beach State College’s 5th campus,” Berman said.

“As a member of the Senate, I will work hand in hand with our local leaders so that Palm Beach County is a place where our kids can raise a family with exceptional public schools, good paying jobs, access to quality healthcare, and a pristine local environment.”

Berman faces Arthur Morrison in a Jan. 30 special primary for the seat, and the winner will move on to an April 10 special general election against Republican Tami Donnally. The winner of the special election will serve until Election Day 2020.

SD 31 opened up back in October when Lake Worth Democrat Jeff Clemens abruptly resigned after admitting to an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.

Berman’s Thursday release marks her second wave of endorsements. In late November she announced more than two dozen endorsements from other Democratic state lawmakers as well as U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch and former congressman Patrick Murphy.

She also picked up an endorsement from former Boca Raton Democratic Rep. Irv Slosberg this week. Slosberg lost to Clemens in the 2016 primary for SD 31 and was briefly a candidate in the special election before he stepped aside in favor of Berman.

“You know, Lori and I were always good friends; she was always on the side of road safety,” he said. “She was right by my side. I think she’s going to make a great senator.”

The SD 31 and HD 114 special elections are currently the subject of a lawsuit filed by Florida Democrats pushing for earlier election dates in order for lawmakers representing the districts to be in place for at least part of the 2018 Legislative Session, which begins Jan. 9 and ends March 9.

A motion filed in that suit to move up the special election dates will be heard in Leon County circuit court Thursday.

David Jolly, Patrick Murphy to meet again at USF St. Pete

Former Florida Congressmen David Jolly and Patrick Murphy resume their fall college speaking tour in St. Petersburg.

The tour — called “Why Gridlock Rules Washington” — continues Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. on the 2nd floor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Student Center. It will be televised live in the Tampa Bay area and Orlando markets.

Over the past couple of months, Jolly and Murphy have been holding public discussions about the state of chaos in Washington D.C., and what can be done to fix politics.

The one-hour event will be broadcast on Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay and Bay News 13 in Orlando, and will be moderated by Bay News 9 anchor Holly Gregory.

The two former lawmakers appeared on the USF Tampa campus last month, where Jolly repeated his comments from a year ago that part of the job as a member of Congress is to spend 20-30 hours a week raising money, and only 10 hours a week doing their actual jobs.

“I truly was taken aback by the fact that consumes every single minute,” the Pinellas Republican said. “If any member tells you that they spend more time on policy than fundraising, they’re lying.”

Attendees are asked to arrive at the ballroom on the 2nd floor of the University Student Center by 6:45 p.m. on December 5th. Those interested in attending must RSVP through Eventbrite.

Darryl Paulson: Republican prospects in the 2018 Florida congressional campaign

Republicans have controlled the Florida congressional districts for almost three decades.

During that time, the size of the Florida congressional delegation has jumped from 23 in 1990 to 25 in 2000, and 27 in 2010. Projections have Florida adding two more seats after the 2020 census, growing the delegation to 29 seats in the House of Representatives.

Only California and Texas have larger delegations.

Currently, Republicans hold 16 of the 27 congressional seats, meaning Democrats need to flip three seats to take control of the delegation. How likely is that to happen?

That’s the topic of Paulson’s Politics for next week.

Three decades of Republican control of the delegation is testimony to the party’s ability to attract quality candidates and to provide them with the organizational and financial support essential for victory.

Is Republican dominance of the delegation over?

At one point, there were as many as seven more Republicans than Democrats in the Florida delegation. Democrats had hoped that a judicial redraw of the congressional district lines in 2016, due to a League of Women Voters challenge to the legislature’s redistricting plan that they believed violated the Fair District Amendment, would allow Democrats to pick up a number of congressional seats. In the end, Democrats picked up one seat, reducing the Republican advantage to 16 to 11.

Floridians elected eight new members to the Florida delegation in 2016, the highest turnover rate of any state with at least eight members. Typically, 90 percent of House members win re-election.

Three incumbent Republicans retired and were replaced by three new Republicans. Two Republicans lost to Democrats and another Republican, Daniel Webster, moved from District 10 to 11 after his District was redrawn and made heavily Democratic. Republicans picked up two seats that had been held by a Democrat. Gwen Graham decided not to seek re-election after her District 2 seat was redrawn to favor Republicans, and Patrick Murphy abandoned his House seat to run unsuccessfully for the U. S. Senate. Republican Neal Dunn won the Graham seat and Brian Mast won the Murphy seat. The net result was a one seat gain by Democrats.

One Republican strength has been that Republican voters have been more motivated than Democrats to turn out on Election Day, especially in midterms. Democratic advantages in voter registration numbers have been diminished by Republican advantage in voter turnout.

A recent Washington Post/ABC Poll indicates that the Republican edge in motivation will not be there in the 2018 midterms. An identical percentage of Republican and Democratic voters, 63 percent, indicated that they are certain to vote in 2018. That number may change by Election Day, but it has to be a concern for Republicans.

Republicans in Florida have been advantaged over the past three decades due to their organizational strength and their ability to finally support their candidates. This is no longer the case.

Democrats, who have had a long history of forming a circular firing squad and executing their own members, finally seem to have their act together. It is now the Republicans who are divided. When Gov. Rick Scott’s hand-picked candidate to lead the party was defeated by state legislator Blaise Ingoglia, Scott told Republicans not to contribute to the party, but instead to his own Let’s Get to Work PAC.

The flow of money to the Florida Republican Party has slowed to a trickle, making it difficult to support more than a small number of candidates. During the first six months of 2017, the Florida Democratic Party raised $3.5 million compared to only $2.4 million for the Republicans. This is, and will be, a major problem for the Republican Party and their candidates heading into 2018.

NEXT WEEK:  An analysis of the 2018 congressional races. Will it be status quo, or will Florida experience a political tsunami?

Though decrying gridlock, David Jolly would like to see Democrats stop Donald Trump

Republican former U.S. Rep. David Jolly doubled down Tuesday evening on his expressed wish that Democrats win the 2018 mid-term elections as a check on President Donald Trump, saying he hoped that so that “we may be safer as a nation.”

Jolly appeared Wednesday evening at the University of Central Florida in Orlando with Democratic former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy on their college-campus tour to talk about their concerns about how hyper-partisanship has caused gridlock, and forced both parties to kowtow to extremes within their ranks.

Yet Jolly, the St. Petersburg politician who served two terms and then chose to run an eventually-aborted campaign for the U.S. Senate Republican nomination last year instead of for re-election, expressed great frustration Monday night on MSNBC with his party’s unwillingness to stand up to Trump.

After the UCF forum Tuesday evening, he repeated that contention and his desire to see Democrats take over the U.S. House of Representatives for the last two years of Trump’s term. He told FloridaPolitics.com that he views Trump as unsteady and a national security concern, and is worried that his party cannot check him.

“I’ve struggled with it as we continue to hear stories around the national security implications around the president’s irascibility and volatility,” Jolly said. “Certainly we know some of the Constitutional issues that have been raised from ethics to Russia. We also know that he is an unsteady hand as commander in chief.

“And we’ve seen Republicans largely unwilling to stand up to him,” Jolly continued. “Listen, I’m a Republican, who hopes we see a Republican Congress pass Republican policies. But it may be for the greater good that there is a stronger check on Capitol Hill on this president than the Republicans are currently providing. So if it meant Democrats take control of the House for two years, and the president not being in office come January 2021, then we may be safer as a nation in my opinion.

“This may be bigger than the party,” Jolly concluded.

The matter did not come up during the 75-minute forum, in which Murphy and Jolly expressed their concerns about how gerrymandering had created too many safe seats, and how the party leadership in Congress was valuing power over any bipartisan relationships, discouraging members in any contested seats from building relationships with those across the aisle.

Murphy said gerrymandering was the biggest single problem. Yet he also decried the closed-primary system in Florida and other states that use it, noting that voter turnout in a primary average is 15 percent. That 15 percent, he argued, likely represents the most extreme wing of the party; and becomes the deciding force in any district predetermined to be a safe seat for one party or the other. And he contended 90 percent of seats are so predetermined.

“So imagine you’re a member of Congress. Imagine your a candidate. Are you going to appeal to that 85 percent [who don’t vote in the primary] or that 15 percent? Murphy said. “You’re going to tailor a message to them. You’re going to make sure they see ads.And you’re going to get to office. And then you’re going to say the same thing, even if it’s against your own self interest.

“We both know friends on both sides of the aisle that are standing for things they don’t truly believe in,” Murphy said.

Both Murphy and Jolly talked about how leaderships punish members who work across the aisle. Murphy said it starts from the very first week a freshman member of Congress arrives, and is segregated from freshmen from the other party, and then is told to not get chummy with those in the other party, because the goal is to see them defeated in the next election. Murphy and Jolly said both sides do it, threatening to not provide re-election money, or threatening to take away valuable committee seats.

“We can’t can’t take human nature out of this,” Jolly said. “It requires a certain amount of political courage to step forward to say I’m going to be one of those people who decide to change it.”

David Jolly, Patrick Murphy discuss fixing Washington — it was (sort of) interesting

One could reasonably approach the David Jolly-Patrick Murphy roadshow hitting Tampa Thursday night with a healthy dose of cynicism.

Here are two former politicians decrying problems of Washington D.C. when, if things had turned the way they hoped they would, both would have been ensconced in the belly of the beast they were now criticizing.

Nevertheless, the two former members of Congress, for the most part, kept it pretty engaging during the hourlong conversation at the University of South Florida Marshall Center, facilitated by USF professor Susan McManus and Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith.

Each man spent the first 15 minutes of the Oval Theater event giving their own prescriptions of what they find wrong with politics today.

Unlike the 34-year-old Murphy, who had been first elected to Congress at the tender of age of 29 after defeating Tea Party Republican Allen West in 2012, Jolly was already an insider, having worked for years as both a lobbyist and an aide to longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Young.

After winning a special election in March 2014, Jolly said he was stunned to discover how much fundraising was expected of new members, since it wasn’t something he ever saw Young doing. Jolly then described a slide he had seen from a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee presentation to incoming lawmakers (he suspected the National Republican Congressional Campaign had one as well) suggesting candidates spend 20-30 hours a week raising money, and only 10 hours a week doing their jobs.

“I truly was taken aback by the fact that consumes every single minute,” the Pinellas Republican said. “If any member tells you that they spend more time on policy than fundraising, they’re lying.”

Another thing that surprised Jolly: The lack of understanding of policy among members of Congress, without naming names.

“It’s remarkable how many people don’t understand the Constitutional implications, the subject matter implications, or even care to learn,” he said, noting they just rely on senior staff help.

Murphy, a Treasure Coast Democrat who lost a bid to defeat Marco Rubio, concurred. He said that while he still believes in term limits, serious policy issues remain (as one, he referred to the Dodd-Frank financial regulation), which take time to learn.

Both men offered some details of what happens behind the scene, especially as freshmen lawmakers.

Murphy discussed how he interviewed several people to learn how to run a campaign, ultimately hiring one as a consultant. He said he was “shocked” to learn the expense (over $10,000 a month). Murphy hired a consultant, a campaign manager, and then a fundraising team.

Jolly was also told he needed a pollster, which he thought absurd since Young served in Congress for more than 40 years without one. But his general consultant told him that a pollster was necessary to learn what constituents care about.

“We need a poll so we know your Republican voters are going to be participating — what is most important to them, so when we determine how to spend money on mailers and commercials, we’re on message with it,” Jolly explained.

Jolly supports open primaries and “jungle primaries” in places like Louisiana and California, where the top two finishers of a race advance to a general election, not the top Republican and Democrat.

He said what he found sad — going across party lines to show independence wouldn’t be rewarded by voters — referring to how he came out for same-sex marriage in 2014 a few months after his election. Jolly said his consultant told him that it was lose-lose; he had just lost Republican votes and wasn’t about to gain any Democratic ones.

“Aren’t you winning independents?” Smith asked.

Jolly replied that he thought that after “multiple” elections one could build up a constituency of independent voters, but in early races, “you’re not bringing people over.”

Both men spoke up in support of lobbyists, saying that in many cases they’re the most informed participants on a public policy issue. (Did we mention that Jolly was previously a lobbyist?)

A frequently overlooked aspect of a member of Congress’ job is constituent services. Both men related poignant stories of helping individuals, which left them both humbled and feeling fortunate they can actually help somebody.

While much of Murphy’s message seemed to be that the system encourages extremes of both parties and drown out centrists, Jolly’s approach was more realistic. He said it was fine to be progressive or conservative, but the lesson politicians learn is that by compromising on some issues is how public policy advances.

“It’s OK to be far to the left or far to the right,” Jolly said, “but the challenge and the breakdown right now is that those two communities are not working together.”

Responding to audience questions, Jolly and Murphy agreed that the Netflix show “House of Cards” was fairly realistic.

When asked if it was possible to win without political action committees, Jolly said a prevalence of third-party groups means candidates have to raise less money on their own. Murphy said “very unlikely.”

To the same question, Murphy answered “very unlikely.”

In the audience of several hundred were mostly students, many holding slices of free pizza offered as an incentive to attend. Other students admitted they were only there to get extra credit from professors.

David Jolly, Patrick Murphy ready to take their act on the road

While he’s not sure if he will attempt to resume his political career by running against Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, former Republican congressman David Jolly says he will be part of another campaign in the future – a GOP effort to block Donald Trump from being renominated in 2020 as the party’s presidential nominee. Read more

Jeremy Ring adds $168K in August for CFO campaign

Democratic CFO candidate Jeremy Ring will report a combined $168,822 raised last month between his campaign and committee accounts, his campaign finance director said Tuesday.

Shelby Rogers said the former state senator brought in $154,322 of the money through his campaign account and another $14,500 through his committee, “Florida Action Fund.”

“Our August fundraising numbers are further proof that Jeremy Ring’s message of bringing a more innovation-driven economy to Florida to create high-paying jobs has resonated with Floridians from the Panhandle to the Keys, and we are excited to continue sharing Jeremy’s vision for a stronger Florida economy,” Rogers said.

Ring finished July with about $130,000 between the two accounts; Rogers didn’t give any update on Ring’s on-hand totals.

According to his committee website, FAF has about $5,200 on hand, while his campaign’s August report hasn’t been filed.

James Pugh Jr. topped the committee donor roll with a $5,000 check, followed by the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters and the Florida Alliance for Better Government at $2,500, Alliance for Progressive Government at $2,000 and the Florida AFL-CIO and lobbyist Paul Wharton at $1,000 each.

Committee expenses came in at around $13,000 and included $5,500 to Johnson Campaigns and $3,000 to Renaissance Campaign Strategies for consulting work.

As of Sept. 5, Ring is still the only candidate running for CFO.

Potential GOP candidates include sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis and Brandon state Sen. Tom Lee.

David Jolly, Patrick Murphy to embark on speaking tour of Florida college campuses

Former Florida Congressmen David Jolly and Patrick Murphy will tour college campuses this fall, where the onetime U.S. Senate rivals will try to explain why politics in Washington is so screwed up.

“Why Gridlock Rules Washington and How We Can Solve the Crises” will feature a town-hall style format moderated by members of the media and academics, with a question-and-answer session to follow.

The first stop is Sept. 12 at the University of South Florida in Tampa.  The 75-minute event will be sponsored by USF and the Tampa Bay Times.

Other stops include Oct. 4 at Florida International University, Oct. 18 at the University of Miami and the University of Florida in Gainesville Oct. 25, with more events likely to be added.

Jolly, a Republican from Pinellas County, won the special election in early 2014 to succeed the late Bill Young; he was re-elected later that year. He lost his bid for re-election last fall to Democrat Charlie Crist after his 13th Congressional District was redrawn up with plenty more Democrats after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the district had been illegally drawn up by the Florida Legislature.

“I think what Patrick and I are focusing in on is regardless of where you consider yourself on the (political) spectrum, there’s a path forward to working together, and in this environment I don’t think there’s enough people speaking to that,” said Jolly, who describes himself as a “governing conservative,” willing to approach issues where few Republicans seek a compromise.

Murphy was a two-term Democratic Representative from Jupiter who narrowly defeated Republican Allen West in Florida’s 18th Congressional District in 2012. He was the Democratic Party’s nominee for U.S. Senate last fall but lost to GOP incumbent Marco Rubio.

“One of the biggest things that are frustrating Americans on both sides of aisle, and perhaps resulting somewhat in President Trump’s election, was the lack of progress that people have been seeing,” says Murphy, who said both he and Jolly agreed upon their election that there was common ground to be found on issues such as climate change, tax reform and the need for infrastructure spending.

During their short time serving together in Congress, the two men found ways to work together on those issues and more. There was the possibility that the two could have faced each other in the Senate race last year, but Jolly ultimately dropped out of the race once Rubio flip-flopped and decided he would run again for his Senate seat after his presidential ambitions collapsed.

Murphy says of all the problems with a dysfunctional Congress, gerrymandering is at the top. Jolly agrees but believes that districts should be redrawn in terms of electoral competitiveness, so that working across the aisle will be positive, instead of giving ammunition to political party officials to have that candidate “primaried” come election time.

Murphy recently agreed to serve as one of six fellows at Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service this fall.

Jolly, meanwhile, has been ubiquitous on CNN and MSNBC this year offering unfettered criticism mostly at Trump. He says that while the tour isn’t about Trump at all, it clearly is designed to provide an alternative to politics in the Trump era.

You can find more information about the tour at fixwashington2017.com.

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