Patrick Murphy Archives - Page 7 of 74 - Florida Politics

Marco Rubio campaign reports raising $2.85M

Sen. Marco Rubio raised nearly $3 million ahead of the election, his campaign announced this week.

The campaign announced Thursday that Rubio raised $2.85 million in 19 days. According to the campaign, $1.74 million of that went directly to the campaign, while 1.1 million went to the “Rubio Victory Committee.”

According to the most recent campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission, Rubio raised more than $11.1 million through Sept. 30. Reports show he had $5.5 million cash-on-hand at the end of September.

The campaign announced its fundraising totals shortly after the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald reported Rep. Patrick Murphy loaned his campaign $1 million in October to pay for TV time in the final weeks of the election.

Federal campaign finance records show Murphy raised $13 million through Sept. 30. He reported having nearly $2.8 million cash-on-hand at the end of the month.

Campaigns are required to file pre-general election campaign reports by Thursday. Neither campaign’s report was immediately available Thursday afternoon.

Broward ballot battle over Amendment 2 makes Norm Kent a Democratic hero

norm-kent-2Norm Kent — criminal defense attorney in Broward County, publisher of the South Florida Gay News, and past chairman of NORML — may be the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton, Patrick Murphy, and Democrats throughout Broward.

At noon Thursday, Judge Lisa Phillips will hear Kent’s suit against Broward Supervisor of Elections and bastion of governmental incompetence, Brenda Snipes, brought on behalf of two registered voters in the county.

At issue is the widely reported absence of Amendment 2, “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions,” from the vote-by-mail ballots of certain voters, and its absence from at least one early vote ballot.

Now you might be thinking, “what possible good for Democrats could come from election problems in the largest Democratic county in Florida?”

If Kent can successfully convince the court of his case’s merits, the answer is “lots.”

First, regardless of what happens today, my guess is that the most recent instances of nincompoopism emanating from Snipes’ office have ALREADY been a boon to Democrats’ prospects.

Consider this scenario: you’re an absentee voter, and like many such voters, your ballot has been sitting in your mail pile by the front door since it came last week. But then the evening news runs a story on ballots potentially missing Amendment 2.

What do you do? You go grab that ballot out of the stack of bills, negative campaign direct mail pieces, and car warranty offers … and you make sure Amendment 2 is there.

And now that you’ve opened your ballot and have it in front of you, you find a pen and a stamp, and you fill the damn thing out and stick it in the mail.

Ever see or hear about those campaign communications that don’t advocate for or against a candidate but shame or embarrass the voter into casting a ballot? “Your neighbors have voted, why haven’t you?” That sort of thing.

What’s going on in Broward County, and the attention it’s received thus far, should already be percolating a similar effect among Broward absentee voters.

The problems so far seem relatively minimal in scope, but likewise appear to be greater than what Snipes’ offices have presented them to be. And it also seems clear Snipes can’t say for certain what the actual scope is — because she doesn’t know.

So what is Kent proposing as a remedy?

Despite his vast and storied history as an activist bomb-thrower, his solutions seem reasonable and prudent on their face. He requests a clear remedial solution for absentee voters who have or had one of the misprinted ballots in question. Kent is asking the court the compel the SOE to educate and put on alert both SOE staff and Broward County voters as to the potential absence of Amendment 2, imploring their vigilance in making sure the issue is present on ballots.

At its most basic, what Kent seeks for Broward County voters — and by extension, Democrats writ large, since their numbers in the county are so dominant — is to have the SOE step up in a public way to reassure and educate the electorate on the essential integrity of the elections.

Putting aside that the SOE should already be doing so with both their conduct and public communications, think about what that means in a blue stronghold like Broward.

To atone for its screw ups, the SOE may wind up having to engage in what could have the effect of being a GOTV campaign countywide. Obviously, such a campaign would get out the votes of ALL Broward voters, but MOST Broward voters are voting D down the line.

And in a year where the presidential campaign is expected to turn voters out in record numbers, the conversation about medical marijuana as a turnout mechanism for Democrats (an existential fear for Republicans two years ago) has mostly fallen by the wayside.

But young, cynical, Bernie SandersRon PaulGary JohnsonJill Stein-type voters, who might, seeing polls for Amendment 2 in the 70s, otherwise stay home, will now have additional motivation to ensure they get to vote for medical marijuana.

And just as turning out a random Broward County voter means you’re likely turning out a Democratic voter, so too does turning out a random, unlikely medical marijuana voter.

Forty percent of Rick Scott voters voted for medical marijuana in 2014, so it’s not an entirely partisan proposition, but virtually every poll shows Democrats and Independents are overwhelmingly for this amendment.

So, if you’re a watcher of turnout in Florida, pay close attention today.

An old pothead with a fedora and a propensity toward righteous indignation could strike a major blow for the cause. Kent will be encouraging a massively blue county to open those absentee ballots languishing by the front door, lighting a fire (no pun intended) under Democrats — and naturally paranoid pot smokers — to get off their butts and vote.

And Hillary Clinton will get the benefits of perhaps 70-80 percent of those votes.

As a visibly intoxicated (but coherent nonetheless) John Morgan once said, “if you pieces of s*** don’t get out and vote … then f*** it all. We’re gonna lose.”

If Norm Kent’s day in court goes as planned, you may see similar messages coming out of the SOE’s office.

Minus the signature and John Morgan’s profane color, of course.

Iraq veteran says Marco Rubio insulted Kurdish forces in Senate debate

While discussing U.S. policy in Syria during the Senate debate between Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy in Davie on Wednesday night, Rubio one-upped his Democratic opponent by chiding him for saying that the Kurdish resistance fighters known as the Peshmerga were fighting in Iraq, not Syria. Now a Democratic Representative and Iraq veteran is calling on Rubio to apologize for “using these brave soldiers as a punchline.”

“As a veteran of the war in Iraq, I know exactly what kind of sacrifice the Kurdish forces are making right now in the fight to recapture Mosul in Iraq,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat, in a statement released by the Murphy campaign after the debate. “The Peshmerga are some of the world’s bravest and most elite warriors. They have been some of our strongest allies in the multidimensional regional battle to defeat ISIS, a conflict that recognizes no national borders. Patrick was right — the Kurdish fighters are key in the fight against ISIS.”

The remark occurred when the Miami Herald’s Patricia Mazzei asked about how the candidates would deal with the more than five-year conflict in Syria. Rubio said currently it was important to ensure the war-torn nation not become a safe haven for terrorists.

Murphy said it was crucial to get rid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and that meant maintaining alliances with various actors in the Middle East.

Rubio countered by saying he wasn’t sure what alliances Murphy was referring to, “The one with the Kurds? The Syrian Kurds or the Turks? This is the situation this president has put us in.”

“It is important to note how many factions are in Syria right now,” responded Murphy. “Whether it’s the Kurds or the Peshmerga, Iraq, Hezbollah, Russia, the moderate rebel forces that we have tried to arm in many ways, and it’s important to talk about them.” He then pivoted towards denouncing Rubio for supporting Donald Trump, who he said wants to “tear up those alliances.”

The moderator indicated that the exchange was spent, but Rubio said he needed to get in a response.

“Congressman there are no Peshmerga in Syria. The Peshmerga are Iraqi,” Rubio said.

Murphy interjected, saying, “Yes, and they are helping us fight.”

“In Iraq, not in Syria,” Rubio responded. “The Syrian Kurds, in fact, don’t get along with the Iraqi Kurds which is adding more complexity to the region.”

In fact, there are reports Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have entered into the fighting in Syria.

Al-Jazeera reported in July that some Peshmerga soldiers held back from the front line in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq have crossed the border into Syria to fight with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, where soldiers can move from unit to unit with fewer restrictions.

The Murphy camp also provided a link to a CNN story from 2014 reporting of Iraqi-Kurdish Peshmerga fighters arriving in the besieged northern Syrian city of Kobani. And they trotted out Rep. Gallego, who was in the hall watching and supporting Murphy during the debate, to rebut Rubio’s comment.

“Tonight, Marco Rubio tried to use these brave soldiers as a punch line,” Gallego said Wednesday night. “He should apologize to our allies as they are fighting and dying on the battlefield right now. If Marco Rubio actually showed up to work at the Senate, he would know better than to insult the people fighting this war.”

The Rubio campaign maintains the Peshmerga are not the primary Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in Syria.

“Marco met with Iraqi Kurds earlier this year in Erbil,” said Olivia Perez-Cubas, a Rubio spokeswoman, on Thursday. “The Peshmerga, who are Iraqi Kurds, have been fantastic allies in the fight against ISIL in Iraq. They are not the primary Kurdish force fighting ISIL in Syria. Patrick Murphy claims to be a national security expert but yet again appears to be embellishing his resume.”

Marco Rubio 49%, Patrick Murphy 43% according to new UNF poll

A University of North Florida poll released Thursday shows Sen. Marco Rubio poised to win re-election.

The survey, from the UNF Public Opinion Research Lab, shows Rubio ahead of his Democratic challenger, Rep. Patrick Murphy, 49 to 43 percent. Polling was conducted Oct. 20-25.

“Rubio is maintaining his six-percentage point lead from our poll earlier in the month,” said Dr. Michael Binder, research director of the Public Opinion Research Lab. “Rubio can attribute his lead to support from NPAs and more Democrats willing to cast a ballot for him than Republicans are for Murphy,”

Rubio has a three-point edge with NPA voters (44 to 41 percent). However, the biggest stunner in the poll is that 17 percent of Democrats surveyed choose the Republican incumbent over the Democratic challenger. That’s compared to 10 percent of Republicans swinging Murphy’s way.

The gender breakdown is worth noting as well. Predictably, Rubio leads Murphy 55 percent to 38 percent with men. However, with women, Murphy only leads Rubio 46 percent to 44 percent … within the 3.39 percent margin of error.

The survey was conducted by live phone calls, and assumes an electorate 40 percent Republican, 40 percent Democrat and 20 percent NPA.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.27.16 — Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy battle it one last time

So much in the news today to discuss, but let’s start (and end) with a review of last night’s debate between Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy.

If you were scoring at home (congratulations if you were, to paraphrase Keith Olbermann from his ESPN days), you might have had Rubio up by a few points at the end, but like the first debate, it was relatively competitive throughout.

Rubio has a lot more experience on the debate stage, which is why Murphy should have debated Pam Keith and Alan Grayson in August. That’s old news, but he needed to sharpen himself up against Rubio, and that was a blown opportunity.

One of the most interesting exchanges was about the Affordable Care Act, and a reason why the Health & Human Services Department announced premiums would rise for the ACA by an average of 22 percent in the coming year.

As is pretty common knowledge, the vast majority of those people who have signed up for the plan are older and sicker. Younger folks who are healthy and (for the most part) don’t require insurance, aren’t paying into it, and are willing to suck up the fine from the I.R.S.

The ACA did have a mechanism in it to help adjust for the added risk insurers might have to take on. That’s where Rubio comes into play. As he said again last night, he led the way in stopping what he called “a bailout” to the insurance companies by blocking that mechanism from kicking in.

PolitiFact says “experts have said Rubio is wrong to call the program a bailout, and that the program is supposed to pay for itself through fees from insurers.”

Call it what you want, but Rubio says the key thing is he saved taxpayers money. Murphy takes the view that the move is hurting those people on the ACA who now have to pay these higher premiums.

When asked what his plan was in place of the ACA, Rubio said he wanted to make it easier for employers to incentivize their workers to buy tax-free plans or to give people tax credits to purchase plans, as well as create “high-risk” pools for those with pre-existing conditions. Murphy said that’s been tried in other states and found wanting.

If you didn’t see the debate, however, you could boil the candidates’ arguments down to one sentence. In the case of Rubio, it was that Murphy had accomplished nothing during his four years in Congress.

For Murphy, it was that Rubio never showed up to vote; and why wouldn’t he denounce Donald Trump?

Murphy said that A LOT. It sort of seemed a bit desperate at the end.

Obviously Chuck Schumer and the DSCC doesn’t believe they need Florida to win back the U.S. Senate. According to the Cook Political Report, the Dems are poised to win 5-7 states next month, which would get them over the top. That’s NOT including Florida.

In other news …

It’s getting closer in Florida. CNN announced this morning they have moved Florida from “leaning Democrat” to “battleground.” That’s based on a Bloomberg poll showing Trump winning in Florida that startled a few folks yesterday. A few hours later, a Florida Atlantic University poll showed Hillary Clinton back up, but only by three points, after having been up by six in the same survey two weeks earlier.

Hillary Clinton spoke before a sun-splashed crowd in downtown Tampa yesterday, warning her supporters that Donald Trump has been telling supporters he can win, and that he’s right in saying that.

Rubio continues to lead Murphy in two new polls — obviously conducted pre-debate.

The League of Conservation Voters is kicking another $100,000 for a digital ad campaign against David Jolly in the CD 13 race.

That controversial campaign ad by the DCCC that photoshopped Jolly with Trump was fodder for some Stephen Colbert humor the other night.

Analysis: Patrick Murphy tries to Trump Marco Rubio; Rubio tries to dis-embellish Murphy

When Florida’s two U.S. Senate candidates talked about their issue policy positions they made Florida voters choices really easy during their final face-to-face debate Wednesday night broadcast statewide on TV.

But rather than run with that, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy appeared obsessed with trying to tie U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to Donald Trump, who, in Murphy’s clear view has undeniably has enraged millions of Floridians; and to label Florida’s incumbent Republican senator seeking a second term as someone who failed to show up for his first term.

And Rubio tried to characterize Murphy as someone who’s a “serial embellisher” of his resume and record, when neither of them, in Rubio’s repeated assessment, have anything worthwhile to actually claim.

Over and over and over. Trump, Trump, Trump. Embellish, embellish, embellish. Doesn’t show up, terrible voting record, unreliable. Never accomplished anything. Nothing. Ever.

Murphy was arguably the more obsessed, criticizing Rubio’s endorsement of the Republican presidential nominee so often that Rubio finally squealed, 36-minutes into the 60-minute debate at Broward College in Davie, “The answer to every question tonight by Congressman Murphy is Donald Trump.” Yet Murphy didn’t quit, even after being called out for it.

Too bad. Because Rubio’s call-0ut came because Murphy walked on one of his own best answers of the night.

A left-field question demanded that the candidates each take a position on the concerns about police killing unarmed black men. The tragic phenomenon, played out too often to ignore in the past four years while the Black Lives Matter movement emerged in outrage and the All Lives Matter movement emerged to polarize the issue, actually had Murphy and Rubio largely agreeing. Both expressed strong empathy and concern for communities, particularly minority communities, which have come to distrust police. Both also expressed strong support and admiration for “the vast majority” of police, but both agreed the pattern had exposed a horrible gulf of mistrust that must be addressed. And both talked about legislation they proposed or supported, including their support of police body cameras. But while Rubio spoke in general or unspecified terms, trying to balance both sides, Murphy sought to make it real.

“Just in the past several months, in my own congressional district, there have been two terrible tragedies,” Murphy said. Then he went into detail about the Cory Jones case, and the Demarcus Semer case, and what he made of them. He brought them home, talking about worshiping and praying with the families, and his efforts on their behalf. And then Murphy…

Don’t do it. Don’t.

“What we can’t do,” Murphy concluded, “is let presidential candidates like Donald Trump, who is one of the most prejudiced, racist candidates ever to run for office…”

It happened over and over Wednesday night, as Murphy and Rubio offered clear distinctions on their views of issues from Social Security to Cuba, the Affordable Care Act to their priorities for new members of the U.S. Supreme Court, Syria to the economy and the wage gap.

And then someone played the Trump card, or the Embellish card.

The overriding theme of their answers seemed to be that Murphy wanted to characterize himself as a reasonable lawmaker willing to work across the aisle to get things done, and to characterize Rubio as a partisan fanatic whose loyalties were to the Koch Brothers, when he bothered to vote at all. Rubio was unabashed and proud about his conservatism, but argued that he knows how to get things done with bipartisan help, and has proven it on a wide range of issues that included Zika response funding but mostly a list of iconic conservative causes, including sanctions against Nicaragua and Venezuela, as opposed to his opponent, whom he characterized as accomplishing nothing.

Rubio’s most personally revealing point may have been when he was asked to explain his “God willing” caveat when he declared, in the last debate, two weeks ago in Orlando, that he would serve out all six years of his next U.S. Senate term, “God willing.”

“God willing is something I always say. Because while I deeply believe that man plans his own steps, it’s God who plans his course,” Rubio said. “I do. I believe that, for example, no matter what happens on Nov. 8, on Nov. 9 the sun will rise and the Creator of the universe will be still sitting on the throne. And that everything that’s going to happen will be because of him.”

Murphy’s best line of the night may have been when he jumped on Rubio’s pride for passing a bill that ended a provision of the Affordable Care Act that allowed federal help when insurance companies got into fiscal trouble in some states. “I know he’s about to tell us about the risk corridors and the plan he put forward. You see, that should be renamed ‘The Florida Premium Increase.'”

Rubio’s best line of the night may have been when he responded to Murphy’s points about the need for a minimum wage increase, and how Rubio had called it a waste of time, then added, “but he thinks being Senator is being a waste of time…. but you got 100 percent of your salary when you missed those votes.”

“I find it ironic that I’m being being lectured about the plight of the working class by a millionaire who inherited his money, who is lecturing the son of a working class immigrant who inherited no money. So I understand exactly what people are going through,” Rubio said.

Marco Rubio, Patrick Murphy spar over policy, fall back on old attacks

Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Patrick Murphy tried to to focus largely on policy during a televised debate Wednesday, but neither man could escape from attacks that have dogged them for months.

Rubio was blasted for his attendance record, one of the worst in the Senate, while Murphy was criticized his limited record congressional accomplishments. And while neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump were anywhere near the Broward College stage, both presidential hopefuls loomed large over the debate.

The debate — hosted by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association — was the second, and likely final, time the two men shared a stage this election cycle. And it comes as Rubio continues to lead in the polls.

RealClearPolitics, a polling aggregation website, has Rubio ahead by an average of 3.6 percentage points, while Bloomberg Politics poll released earlier Wednesday showed the Miami Republican leading by 10 points.

“Here’s the choice in this election, because elections are at their best when they’re about clear choices, and this election is a clear choice,” said Rubio. “I have real, concrete achievements I can point to, things I’ve been able to do for the state of Florida. He’s been there for four years, and no one’s even noticed. This is a clear … difference.”

More than 2 million ballots have already been cast ahead of the Nov. 8 general election, and millions more people are expected to vote during the early voting period.

“Florida deserves a senator that’s going to show up to work, somebody who is going to roll up their sleeves and get things done for Florida,” said Murphy. “There’s way too much at stake to have a missing senator. We have to do more.”

Both men tried to use the debate to draw clear differences from their opponent on a variety of issues, including Cuba and the Supreme Court.

The issue of health care has loomed large in recent days, after federal officials announced premiums are expected to go up significantly next year under the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. Premiums for a mid-level plan are expected to increase an average of 25 percent across 39 states, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services. And about 1 in 5 consumers will only have plans from a single insurer to pick from.

Murphy has long said he supports the health care law, and defended that position Wednesday, while also saying there needs to be changes to make the program more affordable.

“There’s no question the Affordable Care Act was a huge step forward for our country. But the focus now has to be getting it right, working across the aisle to ensure we are fixing it, making sure we have more coverage for more people that’s affordable,” he said. “I believe we can do that, but you have to show up for work and you have to be working across the aisle.”

Murphy said Rubio has spent his time in office trying to undermine the healthcare law. Rubio opposed the Affordable Care Act, and has said he would repeal it.

But Rubio said he doesn’t want to go back to the “old system,” instead a proposing tax credits to allow Americans to buy health insurance and creating a high risk pool for people who have difficulty getting insurance.

“That is a much better approach than the system we have now, where you are forcing people on Obamacare because if they don’t they’ll get fined on their taxes,” he said.

The two men also squared off on the economy. While Florida has made gains in recent years, wages have generally been flat.

Murphy said the government should invest more in education and infrastructure to help boost wages. He also said the country needs to raise the minimum wage, saying lawmakers can “do more to help them out.”

“Anyone who is willing to work a full time job in this country shouldn’t be living in poverty,” said Murphy, who supports raising the minimum wage.

Rubio shot back, saying he understands what people are going through. He said the wage gap isn’t the only problem, the increase in the cost of living is also stretching working families thin.

“We have to become more competitive by rolling back taxes, especially on small businesses, and rolling back the regulatory burden,” said Rubio. “And we need to diversify our education choices. It doesn’t just have to be a four-year degree. We need more vocational training … we need more alternatives to traditional higher education.”

__The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Hillary Clinton warns a Tampa crowd that Donald Trump “can still win”

Hillary Clinton celebrated her 69th birthday by giving a speech in downtown Tampa on Wednesday afternoon, just as the polls are getting tighter between herself and Donald Trump.

Trump must win Florida to have any shot at getting the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidency, but Clinton is also pushing hard to win in Florida, with three official campaign stops in the Sunshine State over the past two days.

“Now, Donald Trump says he can still win, and he’s right, that’s why it’s important that everyone gets out and votes,” Clinton told the crowd of a couple of thousand people who had waited hours under a warm sun to see her in Curtis Hixon Park.

Trump fans were energized with the release of a new Bloomberg Politics poll on Wednesday, which shows the Republican nominee up by two percentage points over Clinton, the first poll of Florida in a long time showing him in the lead.

The thought of a Trump presidency terrified some in the audience.

“The alternative would be quite scary, and it absolutely blows my mind that he would have that much support and that it could even be close,” said Lutz resident Susan Glickman.

Glickman’s husband, David, called the Trump candidacy a legacy of former talk-show host Jerry Springer, who he said made it acceptable for people to be angry to show how they want to solve things.

“Trump has capitalized on that anger for the sake of anger,” he said. “I think there are a lot of issues that are legitimate, but the way that he has brought it forth is anger without any substance behind it.”

Clinton took turns in her 23-minute speech laying out a positive vision if she were elected president, while also bashing Trump on a variety of topics.

“Let me tell you, if I ever need a pickup, I’m coming back to Tampa,” she said, after a group of fans began chanting “Hillary, Hillary” about five minutes into her speech.

Job one of her address was to remind voters that early voting has begun and that they need to get to the polls.

In addition to mentioning politicians who were in the crowd such as Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Senator Bill Nelson, she made sure to name-check other Democrats down the ballot, such as CD 13 candidate Charlie Crist, and local House candidates David Singer and Rena Frazier. She also gave some love to U.S. Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy, as he attempts to close the gap against Marco Rubio.

“He’s an independent voice and a problem solver,” she said of Murphy, mentioning his support for Planned Parenthood and comprehensive immigration reform, while adding, “he’s even brought Democrats and Republicans together to try to protect our environment and fund Everglades restoration.”

Clinton repeated much of her basic stump speech, joking that there should be no questions about her stamina after surviving four-and-a-half hours of debating Trump over the past month.

“We have seen Donald Trump insult nearly every person in America,” she said exaggerating greatly. “I just find that so intolerable, because look at Tampa, it’s a cosmopolitan city. Florida is paving the way for what our country will look like it, and we need to be lifting each other, listening to each other, respecting each other, not sowing seeds of hatred and bigotry.”

Although some of Clinton’s proposed policies, such as making colleges and public universities tuition free (for those whose parents make less than $125,000 annually) are progressive, she talked often of bringing Republicans and independents into her big tent vision for the future, and invoked GOP patron saint Ronald Reagan when going on a riff about how Trump has been “bashing” America for decades.

“Back in 1987, he took out a $100,000 ad in the New York Times criticizing President Reagan! He said our leaders were the laughingstock of the world,” she exclaimed with indignation. “So this is a guy who criticizes everybody but himself!”

There was a good proportion of females in the audience. 19-year-old University of Tampa student Eugenia Davies said that while some of her friends supported Hillary, some others are backing Trump. “They like him because of his views on immigration,” she said.”I agree with that, we do have a problem in the country with that, but his solutions are not the real solutions. I believe Hillary will take care of that. You’re going to have your issues, but how you deal with that is what matters.”

“Trump had a chance, but he dug his own grave,” said Tampa resident Marina Kauffman, who added that if Clinton were a man, “this would be a slam dunk.”

Star power was provided in the manner of actress Angela Bassett giving an enthusiast speech leading up to Clinton’s appearance. “Now here me Tampa Bay, and hear me well: This election is just a little too close to be comfortable, to sit back on the sidelines,” she warned.

This was Clinton’s forth appearance in Tampa during this election cycle (previous visits were at the Florida State Fairgrounds, USF, and Ybor City), and her fifth in the Tampa Bay area (she also appeared at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg).

With 13 days left before the election, it’s uncertain whether she will appear again, but very well could in this extremely fluid final countdown to Election Day.

George Soros spending big to mobilize Central Florida Puerto Rican vote

George Soros is supporting the effort to mobilize Puerto Rican voters in Orlando and Central Florida, reaching out to the highly valued electorate in the country’s biggest battleground state.

Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reports the billionaire Democrat mega-donor is funding “United for Progress,” the committee launched in September by Marcos Vilar, a Miami political consultant.

Soros, one of the Democrats’ biggest donors, gave $200,000, the group’s only contribution.

“United for Progress is educating Floridians about issues of importance to the Puerto Rican community in several jurisdictions around the state,” Vilar told POLITICO in an email, without giving specifics of the operation.

Several individuals familiar with the group say the effort seeks to target several Central Florida legislative races with large Puerto Rican populations, who tend to lean Democratic.

One such race is Democrat John Cortes in Osceola County’s House District 43, which is nearly 55 percent Hispanic, many of whom are Puerto Rican. Orlando’s House District 48, represented by Democrat Victor Torres, is more than 50 percent Hispanic, also mostly Puerto Rican.

Puerto Ricans have represented one of the largest influxes into Florida. Dixon notes the population has grown 110 percent since 2000. Comprising nearly one-third of eligible Hispanic voters — second only to Cuban-Americans — Florida’s Puerto Rican community has bolstered its political influence as the voter rolls increase.

Orlando Democratic state Sen. Darren Soto, who is running for Congress, says he is not aware of Soros’ efforts, but admits there is a push to mobilize the Puerto Rican vote in Central Florida.

Soto, if elected, would be the first Puerto Rican representing Florida in Congress.

“It is absolutely critical [to get them to vote],” Soto told POLITICO. “My campaign is spending $100,000 or more on the candidates and we have a rock-solid vote-by-mail campaign.”

In addition to the $200,000, Soros also spent $1.3 million in the successful bid to defeat Orange-Osceola State Attorney Jeff Ashton, and is involved in the race against Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober.

Issues that speak to the Puerto Rican community include the island’s debt crisis; Zika funding and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent who is the first Hispanic woman on the nation’s highest court.

One Florida lawmaker particularly critical of Sotomayor’s nomination was Marco Rubio, the Cuban-American currently facing Democrat Patrick Murphy in his U.S. Senate re-election effort. “Not anti-Hispanic to oppose Sotomayor,” Rubio wrote to POLITICO in 2009 during his first Senate campaign.

“Many are now attempting to brand Republicans as anti-Hispanic,” Rubio said at the time. “It should be clear, however, that our opposition to her judicial philosophy is in no way a wholesale opposition to Hispanics.”

On Sunday, Rubio was booed at Calle Orange, a popular Puerto Rican-themed street festival in Orlando. NPR reported the boos began shortly after Rubio’s introduction and grew louder as he spoke. Rubio left the state after making brief remarks in Spanish.

“I want to enjoy this day. We’re not going to talk about politics today,” Rubio said. “Thank God for this beautiful day, and for our freedom, our democracy, our vote, and our country. God bless you all, thank you very much.”

FAU poll in Florida shows Hillary Clinton at 46 percent, Donald Trump at 43 percent

Hillary Clinton continues to lead Donald Trump in Florida 46 percent to 43 percent, according to a new poll conducted by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative and released on Wednesday. However, momentum is moving with Trump. A similar survey conducted just two weeks ago had Clinton up by six points.

The survey of 500 likely Florida voters was conducted from Oct. 21-23.

As expected, Trump has a 17-point lead among white voters, 53 to 36 percent. Clinton has a 49-point lead among African-Americans, 73 to 24 percent, and leads with Hispanics, 68 to 19 percent. Clinton is winning with independents 50 to 34 percent.

Trump enjoys strong support in northern Florida, where he leads Clinton 56 to 32 percent, as well as in the central part of the state, which is breaking 49 to 38 percent in his favor. Clinton is winning overwhelmingly in South Florida, 68 to 26 percent.

In a sign of the Clinton campaign’s organizational strength, she leads among the 26 percent of respondents who said they already voted, 54 percent to 41 percent for Trump. Clinton also leads 49 to 40 percent among women voters. Trump leads among those who plan to vote on Election Day, however, 50 to 36 percent.

Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at FAU and a research fellow of the Initiative, said it increasingly looks like this election will turn on which candidate is better able to get their supporters to the polls. “Secretary Clinton is building a substantial lead among the early voters in our sample,” he said. “That could create a difficult lead to overcome for Mr. Trump on Election Day.”

The poll also shows Marco Rubio leading over Patrick Murphy in the U.S. Senate race, 46 percent to 42 percent.

The poll also shows strong support for Amendment 2, the initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, with 67 percent saying they will vote in favor of the measure. The amendment must get 60 percent support from the public on Nov. 8 to become law.

The poll was conducted in both English and Spanish, and data was collected via Interactive Voice Response. The poll was conducted Oct. 21-23 and carries a 4.3 percent margin of error and a 95 percent confidence level.

A Bloomberg Politics poll released earlier Wednesday showed Trump leading Clinton, 45 percent to 43 percent.

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