Patrick Murphy Archives - Page 2 of 73 - Florida Politics

Alan Grayson files bill named after Tampa youth to promote civil rights compliance

In perhaps his last act as a member of Congress, Orlando-area Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson announced on Friday that he was filing the “Andrew Joseph III Act,” a bill which requires any jurisdiction seeking a specific federal grant to have an independent civilian review board in place.

In February of 2014, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies ejected 99 students from the Florida State Fair, including Andrew Joseph III, a 14-year-old African American, for rowdy behavior during the annual Student Day – a day off from Hillsborough County Schools with free admission to the fair. After interrogating him, stripping him to the waist and arresting him without notifying his parents, deputies dropped Andrew two miles from the fair. He was killed trying to cross I-4 to return to the fairgrounds.

In February, the family of Joseph filed a lawsuit naming Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee and several deputies, the Florida State Fair Authority, the Hillsborough County School Board and the school district. The suit alleged the “unjustified arrest and detention of a nonviolent and non-resistant juvenile.”

In 2015, Student Day’s rules were changed. Deputies would have to contact the parents or guardians of any juveniles who were ejected. Students must also be with an adult after 6 p.m.

“This is not just one person’s tragedy. It is not just the tragedy of these parents standing at his grave site. It is the tragedy of America,” Grayson said from the House Floor earlier this year. “We persist in being a country of sometimes casual racism, racism that sometimes goes unnoticed.”

Grayson first took interest in the case publicly in the fall of 2015, where he held a press conference with the parents of Andrew Joseph in Tampa. Two months later, he sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, calling on her to have the FBI investigate the case.

“Andrew was forced to take off some his clothes, for the stated purpose of allowing the police to check for gang-related tattoos,” Grayson wrote. “He was photographed, and information about him was entered into a database. With no evidence of wrongdoing, or even suspicion of wrongdoing, the police nevertheless removed Andrew (a 14-year-old without adult supervision) from the Fair, by patrol car. The police released Andrew well away from the Fair, by patrol car. The police released Andrew well away from the Fair, near four busy thoroughfares, two of them Interstate highways. At no time did the Sheriff’s Office attempt to contact Andrew’s parents, or direct him to do so.”

In March of 2016, Grayson returned to Tampa near the scene of Andrew Joseph III’s death to announce that the Justice Department would not be investigating the case. In a letter to Grayson that he made public that day, Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik wrote that “accident, mistake, fear, negligence or bad judgement are not sufficient to establish a willful federal criminal civil rights violation.”

“It’s been two years!  And I don’t have a police report. Not one sentence,”  Joseph’s father, Andrew Joseph Jr. said at that news conference (The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says that the Florida Highway Patrol did write up a report).

“I absolutely do not know how I can ever show my appreciation and gratitude to Congressman Grayson,” said Deanna Joseph, Andrew’s mother, in a statement on Friday. “This has given us hope that the world will never allow another tragic death of a child in the manner in which Andrew Joseph III’s life ended.”

The Andrew Joseph III Act, H.R. 6505, calls for building a stronger system of law enforcement accountability, and instill a greater confidence in community policing.

Grayson will be leaving Washington when the new Congress is sworn in next month. He gave up his congressional seat earlier this year to run for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, where he fell a distant second to Jupiter Representative Patrick Murphy.

Florida’s congressional delegation scores big WIIN, funding Everglades, water projects

Florida’s Congressional delegation scored a win this week with the passage of a bill that will fund major water projects in Florida, including the Central Everglades Planning Project.

Four Florida congressmen put out press releases Thursday touting their votes for The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act of 2016, which passed the House with a 360-61 vote.

WIIN would provide more than $1.5 billion in funding for Florida projects, including $976 million for Central Everglades Planning Project, $308 million for the Picayune Strand restoration project and $220 million for Port Everglades Dredging.

Republican Rep. Thomas Rooney put out a press release touting the bill’s CEPP provisions, which will significantly improve the water flows through the northern estuaries, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.

“With Congressman Tom Rooney’s continued stewardship, we have seen significant progress toward restoring the Everglades,” said South Florida Water Management District Chairman Daniel O’Keefe in the press release. “Approval of the federal water bill by the full Congress, followed by appropriating funding, is vital to complete the Central Everglades Planning Project.”

Fellow Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart also joined in with a press release on WIIN, congratulating Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chair and Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Bill Shuster for the bill’s passage.

“By investing in our nation’s ports, dams and drinking water services, we are not only helping the local economy, but also the families across the country that rely on having easy access to safe drinking water,” Diaz-Balart said. “The legislation also focuses on reducing the backlog of projects the Army Corps of Engineers have, saving taxpayer dollars and allowing the most important and necessary projects to be prioritized.”

Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch and Patrick Murphy also joined in with statements on the bill, though their feelings on the bill were somewhat mixed despite praise for provisions which will bring more business and jobs to South Florida.

“This bill is not perfect, and I’m disappointed that the Republican leadership included offensive provisions at the last minute putting water resources at risk in drought-afflicted California,” Deutch said. “As we begin the 115th Congress in January, I will continue to work tirelessly in Washington to fight for the interests of South Florida.”

Murphy added that while he was “disappointed to see partisan riders included in the WIIN Act instead of a bipartisan WRDA conference bill, Floridians should not have to wait another year for this project to be authorized.”

Patrick Murphy’s farewell speech focuses on bipartisan unity

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy called on Congress to pursue bipartisan unity and eschew any “hateful and divisive” rhetoric as he gave a farewell speech to the House of Representatives Tuesday night.

Murphy, the Democrats’ failed candidate for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat in the Nov. 8 election, conceded “the outcome of this election was not what I hoped for our state and our nation” but used most of his seven-minute address to suggest he’s always sought bipartisan cooperation and to urge for more.

The Palm Beach Gardens congressman whose four-year tenure ends Jan. 3 decried money in politics, corporate influences and gerrymandering and said: “much of the system is broken.” But he also called for a focus on a set of issues that included priorities for both the Democratic and Republican parties.

“The outcome of this election was not a mandate for many of the policies being discussed right now. Instead, we saw a still-divided nation making it more important than ever that we have solutions that work for all Americans, not just some Americans,” Murphy said in a speech Tuesday evening on the House floor.

“That is why I hope to see a new focus on tackling climate change, tax reform, investing in our infrastructure, rebuilding the middle class, improving educational opportunities, and protecting our country from the threats of cyber attacks and terrorism, all things I championed during my time in this chamber,” he continued. “Above all, I hope we do not move our country backwards. That requires leaders who do not use fear and lies to further divide this country.”

Murphy’s primary campaign against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and general election campaign against Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who won, were sometimes heated and hostile, particularly when he sought to link Rubio through association with some of the more fiery and divisive rhetoric of Donald Trump. On Tuesday, he called for healing, but not forgetting.

“We cannot simply gloss hateful and divisive rhetoric that plagued our country this past year,” Murphy said. “The United States is better than that, and the world is watching. I’m an eternal optimist. I’m hopeful our leaders will work together to begin to heal these winds and move our country forward together, to show we are stronger than those who wish to divide us.”

He ended by vowing, “My commitment to our community, to the great state of Florida, and to our nation will always continue.”

Pam Keith to lead Florida group of Democrats to campaign for Louisiana Senate hopeful

Since Hillary Clinton lost the election to Donald Trump three weeks ago, many Democrats have been disconsolate, still stunned to deal with the reality of a Trump presidency.

Pam Keith says she understands the sentiment, but says it’s time for Democrats to get active and start fighting back. The way she’s doing that is to travel late next week to help out the U.S. Senate candidacy of Foster Campbell in Louisiana. And she’s calling other Florida Democrats to join her.

“I think a lot of us Dems are heartsick and trying to channel all of that emotion into something constructive,” Keith said in an email to FloridaPolitics. “For the time being, there really isn’t anything we can do about Trump, other than gnash our teeth and pray that the Electoral college sees the light.  But with respect to the Senate, there is something we can do.  The runoff in Louisiana would’t be a run-off unless it was close, so adding whatever we can to the mix might actually get something positive done.”

With no senate candidate getting fifty percent of the vote in Louisiana on Nov. 8, Campbell made the runoff against Republican John N. Kennedy, the state treasurer. Campbell is a 69-year-old cattle farmer and public service commissioner. A survey taken last week by a GOP polling firm shows Campbell trailing Kennedy by double-digits.

When Keith announced on her Facebook page that she was intending to spend two days in Louisiana campaigning for Campbell, she asked if other Democrats would be willing to join her.

“We have gotten LOTS of positive feedback for folks who want to help, many of whom can’t travel but are eager to do phone banking. I think we will reach our 20 people goal based on what I’m seeing so far,” Keith says.

Keith is a former Naval Officer JAG and attorney who finished third in the Democratic race for U.S. Senator this summer. Though she didn’t come to defeating winner Patrick Murphy, but came close to knocking off congressman Alan Grayson for second place.

Keith says that she thought such a GOTV effort would be promoted by the Democratic National Committee or the various state parties. But that didn’t happen.

“Seeing no action on the part of either group, I just decided to see what I could do on my own. Bret Berlin has been immensely helpful and is now working with me to get this done. The Campbell team in Louisiana is very positive about getting our help.”

Democrats nationwide are looking at the race, with the Campbell campaign taking in more than  $2.5 million in contributions in the weeks surrounding the Nov. 8 election, according to his latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.

Between Oct. 20 and Nov. 20, he raised $2,490,939 from individuals and another $29,600 from political action committees, according to the report his campaign released on Tuesday.

Keith and her friends will be in Louisiana on December 9 and 10. The election takes place on December 10.

 

Marco Rubio, Donald Trump find common ground on Cuba

Sen. Marco Rubio has spent the last six years maligning Cuba policy from the Barack Obama White House.

He’s not expecting to have to do the same regarding Donald Trump, however.

After a meeting with Cuban dissident Guillermo “Coco” Farinas Tuesday, Rubio issued a statement, noting that “rolling back President Obama’s one-sided concessions to the Castro regime, a key campaign promise shared with President-elect Trump, will be a top priority for me next year.”

“By any objective measure, President Obama’s unilateral policy changes have failed, and they are not in the best interest of the American people or the people of Cuba,” Rubio observed, adding that he intends to fight for support for “civil society and dissidents from Cuba and other countries.”

Much of the campaign of Rubio’s general election challenger, Rep. Patrick Murphy, was designed to draw comparisons between Rubio and Trump. And for his part, Rubio went out of his way to draw differences between himself and the GOP nominee, vowing to act as a “check” on a Trump White House.

With the general election out of the way, however, Rubio is finding that on one of his biggest policy priorities, it’s useful to have an ally in the White House.

Barack Obama goes below .500 in his picks for Florida House and Senate seats

With his legacy on the line, Barack Obama went all out during this just-concluded election season to not only get Hillary Clinton elected, but also more than 150 down ballot races for state Senate and House in states across the country, including 13 Democrats on the ballot in Florida.

With one House race so close there is a recount going on, the president’s record on those picks in Florida stands at 5-7.

Though a former state senator himself in Illinois, Obama had never previously endorsed in state Legislature races as president before this year. His first batch of any state legislative endorsements came in Florida on Oct. 21, and he actually cut an ad for state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, who ultimately ended up defeating GOP incumbent Miguel Diaz de la Portilla in Senate District 37.

Another Obama pick, former state representative Linda Stewart, defeated Republican Dean Ascher in the newly created Senate District 13 seat.

However, Obama’s other three Senate picks went down to defeat: Rod Smith to Keith Perry in the newly drawn SD 8 district; Debbie Mucarsel-Powell to GOP incumbent Anitere Flores in HD 39; and Bob Buesing, who lost by seven percentage points to House District 60 Rep. Dana Young in the newly created SD 18 seat in Hillsborough County.

In the House, Obama has a chance of going .500 in his eight picks, if Democrat Robert Asencio can continue to hold onto his narrow lead over Republican David Rivera in the House District 118 recount going on this week inside the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections office.

Other Democrats backed  by Obama who won last week were Ben Diamond in Pinellas County’s House District 68; Nick Duran in HD 112; and U.S. Army veteran Daisy Baez over Republican John Courier in a close matchup in the HD 114, 51 percent to 49 percent.

The four Democrats who lost were Beth Tuura in House District 47, who lost out to GOP incumbent Mike Miller. Tampa attorney Rena Frazier lost by nine points to GOP incumbent Ross Spano in HD 59; Lisa Montelione lost to GOP incumbent Shawn Harrison in HD 63, 51 percent to 49 percent ; and attorney Ivette Gonzalez Petrovich lost out GOP incumbent Manny Diaz in the House District 103 race.

Obama also backed Patrick Murphy for Senate and Charlie Crist, Stephanie Murphy and Val Demings in congressional races, cutting TV ads for Crist and Patrick Murphy.

Ed Narain the latest name to be floated as potential chair of Florida Democratic Party

In the 72 hours since Allison Tant announced she would not run for another term as Florida Democratic Party chair, all sorts of names have been floated as possible successors.

DNC Committeeman Alan Clendenin, former House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, former Congressman Patrick Murphy, former lawmaker Dwight Bullard and former lieutenant governor candidate Annette Taddeo are just some of Florida Democrats being mentioned in the conversation.

Another is Ed Narain, the outgoing head of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, whose ascendancy in the Legislature was snuffed in August when he narrowly lost a run for the state Senate District 19 race to Darryl Rouson. Narain was elected to the Florida House District 59 seat in 2014 and would have easily won re-election to the seat this year, but opted to run for the open Senate seat.

“It’s an honor for my name to be discussed with other Democratic leaders from around the state but I’m an outsider when it comes to party politics and I’m not sure leading the party is where I can best contribute,” Narain wrote to FloridaPolitics on Sunday night about the his interest in the position — not completely rejecting a possible candidacy.

Meanwhile, former legislator and state education commissioner Betty Castor suggests a positive move for the FDP would be to move their headquarters outside of Tallahassee.

“It is obvious that the Democratic Party needs to build its bench,” Castor emailed to FloridaPolitics. “There are others far more intricately involved, but the Dems should start where there are opportunities. Democrats did well in Hillsborough and Orange with positive growth in Osceola as well as South Florida. Municipal elections are always prime areas. My own hope would be to see the state headquarters moved to a population center, perhaps Tampa.”

Former CFO Alex Sink said Tant did a relatively good job during her tenure, but thinks four years is long enough for any party chair.

“I think she’s done extremely well under challenging circumstances and let’s not forget the fact that we did carry the state for President Obama in 2012, when everybody in the country thought that Romney would win,” she said on Friday.

“I think that some of the other significant things that have been accomplished is this whole change of the politics of Orange and Seminole counties, and a very successful effort in energizing and registering Latinos, which is something that we’ll be able to build on in years to come, and the numbers of Latinos officeholders who were Democrats. There are lots of accomplishments that Allison can point to.”

Sink admits that having Florida go red for Donald Trump was extremely disappointing, but says that, in reality, Florida has been a red state over the past couple of decades, making it challenging for any party chair.

“It’s a burnout job,” she says of the position. “It’s thankless. It’s mainly fundraising, and when you don’t control the levers of power in Tallahassee, which we don’t, it’s tough. Not a single state office holder and almost super majorities in both houses of the Florida Legislature. You just don’t have a lot of leverage.”

Allison Tant won’t return as Florida Democratic Party chair

Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant announced Friday she will not run for another term as party chair in January.

“It has truly been a privilege and an honor to serve as your chair and I wanted you to hear from me first that I’ve decided to not seek re-election in January,” Tant wrote in email to party members. “I will use the remainder of my term to ensure that the next chair is able to hit the ground running on Day 1 with as smooth of a transition as possible.”

The list of possible replacements starts with Alan Clendenin, the 57-year-old State and Democratic National Committeeman from Tampa who came close to becoming the party chair of the Florida Democratic Party in 2013, losing out by 80 votes out of over 1,000 cast to Tant. He currently is vice-chair of the FDP.

Clendenin did not immediately return a call for comment. He lost a bid for school board in Hillsborough County back in August.

Other names being bandied about include Democrats who fell short on the ballot this year like Annette Tadeo, Dwight Bullard, Patrick Murphy, as well as strategist Steve Schale, who went to Twitter to announce in a Shermanesque like statement: “Things I want to do in 2017: Write a Book Things I don’t want to do in 2017: Work for a political party or chair the state version of one

Tant’s decision comes after a very poor night for Florida Democrats on Tuesday, where Hillary Clinton fell short to Donald Trump by a little more than one percentage point in the race for Florida’s 29 electoral votes for president. Democrats were also unsuccessful in retaking the U.S. Senate seat, with Patrick Murphy losing by eight percentage points to incumbent Marco Rubio.

And in state legislative races, the party actually LOST one seat in the state Senate, despite new Democratic-friendly political lines drawn up by the Legislature last year. That resulted after the Florida Supreme Court ruled they had been originally drawn up in violation of the state’s constitution. They now have 15 members in the 40-person body.

Democrats did pick up three seats in the House, and now will have 41 members to the Republicans’ 79.

Some state Democrats also want to know if Scott Arceneaux will stick around. Arceneaux has been the executive director of the FDP since 2009, transcending the Karen Thurman and Rod Smith eras.

Here is Tant’s email in full:

Fellow Democrats,

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your dedication and tireless effort on behalf of our party. While this wasn’t the outcome we worked so hard for, we stood for what is best in our country — justice, equality, compassion, and hope.
As Hillary said in her speech, “This loss hurts. But please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is. It is worth it.”
It has truly been a privilege and an honor to serve as your chair and I wanted you to hear from me first that I’ve decided to not seek re-election in January. I will use the remainder of my term to ensure that the next chair is able to hit the ground running on Day 1 with as smooth of a transition as possible.
Again, thank you for your support and inspiration over the last few years. You worked your hearts out and I couldn’t be more proud. But there is still so much work to be done to protect the progress we’ve made — and we don’t have a minute to waste. It’s on each and every one of us to defend the values we hold dear. Let’s keep up the fight and do all we can to move the state and country we love forward together.
I’ve loved meeting and working with you all and I know we will rise from this defeat to build a brighter future.
Sincerely,
Allison

 

 

Marco Rubio easily won re-election even though he lost big at home

Those Miami-Dade voters sure are split about favorite son Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

His home of Miami-Dade was the only county in Florida that went for Rubio in the Republican presidential primary in March. But in Rubio’s triumphant re-election to the U.S. Senate Tuesday, the General Election voters of Miami rejected him soundly.

Rubio won re-election anyway, steamrolling Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy enough in most of the Sunshine State to survive losing Miami and the liberal bastions of Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Tallahassee, Gainesville, and the new Democratic strongholds of Orlando and Kissimmee.

The counties dominated by those cities all went for Murphy Tuesday, as did his home-district county of St. Lucie. But that’s all he got.

Rubio took everything else in Florida, including running up big margins in several counties that also went big for Republican President-elect Donald Trump, such as Lee, Brevard, Collier, and St. Johns, plus a far more convincing win in Jacksonville’s Duval County than Trump enjoyed.

Rubio won re-election by 716,928 votes over Murphy, according to unofficial figures posted by the Florida Secretary of State. Rubio got 52 percent to Murphy’s 44 percent.

Like Trump, Rubio completely dominated through most of North Florida and the Panhandle. He won 84 percent of the vote in Holmes County, and at least 70 percent of the vote in 19 other counties, mostly in North Florida. But it was the 64 percent he won in Lee, 56 percent in Duval, 58 percent in Brevard, and 68 percent in Collier County that gave him the biggest margins toward victory. Lee gave him a 100,000-vote edge, and those other three each gave more than 66,000-vote margins to Rubio.

Rubio also won by more than 50,000 votes in St. Johns, Clay, Okaloosa, and Santa Rosa counties.

Those eight counties countered Murphy’s big wins in Broward County, which provided him with a 241,000-vote margin; Miami-Dade, 108,000-vote margin; Orange County, 68,000 votes; and Palm Beach County, 61,000. Murphy got 55 percent of the vote in Miami-Dade, to 43 percent for Rubio.

Where was it close? Tampa Bay.

Rubio beat Murphy in Hillsborough County by 2,901 votes, or 48.1 percent to 47.6 percent. He won Pinellas County by 13,580 votes, or 49 percent to 46 percent. And Rubio won Jefferson County by 1 percent and Monroe County by 7 percent.

Murphy won St. Lucie by 3,347 votes, 50 percent to 47 percent.

Every other county offered a double-digit percentage spread.

 

Marco Rubio says election shows a ‘rejection of business-as-usual in Washington’

Marco Rubio is weighing in on Donald Trump’s stunning presidential victory.

“I congratulate President-elect Trump‎ and Vice President-elect Pence on their victory,” said Rubio on Wednesday. “They listened to the frustrations and anxieties of the American people after eight years of failure in Washington and earned this opportunity to lead the country. Their victory, along with Republican Senate and House victories across the country, are a clear rejection of business-as-usual in Washington.”

Rubio won election as well on Tuesday night, defeating Democrat Patrick Murphy by eight percentage points, 52 percent to 44 percent. Murphy made a huge issue of Rubio’s endorsement of Trump for president over Hillary Clinton, but in the end, it may have only helped him when all the votes were counted.

During his ill-fated presidential run, Rubio had blasted Trump, saying right before the Florida primary in March, “I believe Donald Trump as our nominee is going to shatter and fracture the Republican party and the conservative movement.”

That was then. This is now.

“It’s been a long, tough, and hard-fought election, but President-elect Trump struck the right tone last night by asking the country to come together,” Rubio said on Wednesday. “Whether you voted for him or not, he will soon be our president and our nation can only be successful in the years to come by helping him succeed.”

Although Trump won a decisive Electoral College victory, he was trailing Clinton with the popular vote early Wednesday. Earlier this week, Rubio acknowledged that whomever won the race for the White House, the country would be divided, and said that it has to come together.

“We have to be able to have the capacity to have debates over tough issues without ending up hating the people on the other side of it, and we’ve reached a very dangerous point in our politics where — I’m not just talking about political figures, I’m talking about everyday people, longtime friendships — have ended over a presidential campaign and over a political debate,” he said in Brandon. “We’re not going to be able to solve problems if we hate each other.”

“We can disagree on things,” he added. “We’ve always been a country with strong disagreements. But if we’re a nation where we’re literally at people’s throats, over every issue, we’re not going to be able to make a lot of progress. And so I hope that those of us who are in public service will do our part to try to inject more responsible discourse into our politics.”

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