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Mitch Perry Report for 10.21.16 — Rick Scott in 2020?

Forget about Marco Rubio in 2020, what about Rick Scott?

Troy Kinsey from Bay News 9 reports that “some GOP operatives are floating him as a potential presidential contender in 2020, should Trump lose in November.”

Kinsey then quotes all of one lone such operative in his story. But it does make for a good headline.

Now, what about Marco Rubio? The Florida lawmaker made news this week when he declared in his debate against Patrick Murphy, “I’m going to serve in the Senate for the next six years, God willing.”

Even if Rubio does break that pledge, will the GOP primary voters in 2020 become warmer to his candidacy than they were this year? Well, a Bloomberg poll of 404 Republicans nationally taken last week doesn’t even put Rubio in the top five contenders for 2020.

Mike Pence, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and John Kasich finished in the top five, with five percent listed as “other,” including, presumably, some Rubio fans.

Meanwhile in South Florida yesterday, the President of the United States continues to enjoy his freewheelin’ campaign style in the waning months of his tenure, slamming Rubio mercilessly for his continued support of Trump.

“How can he call him a con artist and dangerous, and object to all the controversial things he’s said, but then say, ‘I’m still going to vote for him?’,” Obama said at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.

“C’mon, man,” he said.

“That is the sign of someone who will say anything, do anything, pretend to be anybody just to get elected. If you’re willing to be anybody just to be somebody, man, you don’t have the leadership that Florida needs in the United States Senate.”

Closer to home, a quick correction to Patrick Manteiga’s column in today’s La Gaceta. Patrick reports Lisa Montelione has “failed to receive any endorsement of her peers on Tampa City Council” in her House District 63 race versus Republican Shawn Harrison.

Au contraire. Mike Suarez and Harry Cohen did announce their endorsement earlier this week.

The Cubs thrashed the Dodgers last night, and are looking pretty up 3-2 going back to Chi-town tomorrow night. I may be the only man in the Tampa Bay area rooting for the Dodgers, which is really weird. I mean, I’m a Giants fan, for heaven’s sake.

And the Bucs travel to San Francisco, Santa Clara this weekend to play Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. Will any Bucs take a knee in solidarity with the now nationally famous activist?

In other news …

Victor Crist is calling for an emergency meeting next week of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission to deal with the negative fallout of recent press reports.

Speaking of which, newly released emails show PTC executive director Kyle Cockream communicated freely with officials of taxicab and limousine companies his agency is supposed to be regulating.

After getting his column on the more unseemly side of the Clintons spiked, Chris Ingram quit the Tampa Bay Times.

Republican Eric Seidel continues his campaign against Democratic incumbent Pat Frank for the clerk of the court.

Sarasota U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan hopes to get federal assistance in cleaning up Sarasota and Manatee County’s red tide problem.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.20.16 — #Badhombres

Donald Trump enjoyed mocking Hillary Clinton earlier this week for all the time she’s taken off the campaign trail recently, but with all three debates now history, it’s clear she knew exactly she was doing — working to be totally prepared for these debates.

I know folks like to lower the bar considerably when grading how well Trump performed in these encounters, but the fact is Clinton has been sharper and better prepared in all three, and they really could be the deciding factor in this election.

“It’s completely heartbreaking to see Clinton so outclass a Republican nominee across 3 debates,” tweeted the National Review’s Rich Lowry last night.

It’s not like there isn’t ample material to use against Mrs. Clinton, and one can’t help but wonder for a moment how another candidate — such as Florida’s Marco Rubio — would have performed.

I don’t want to sound like I’m parroting the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith, but it’s really true that a political athlete like Rubio would have been so much more formidable in this setting. Seeing him in Ybor City yesterday, I was reminded of just how quick-witted and sharp he is.

But forget all of that — Republican primary voters overwhelmingly rejected Rubio, just as they did John Kasich, who I believe would be the next POTUS if the GOP had nominated him. But the voters didn’t want Kasich, either.

In his presser at the J.C. Newman Cigar Company yesterday, Rubio again said he would not capitalize on the WikiLeaks release of emails of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. At this point it seems like Rubio feels he can’t completely distance himself from Trump, but as his lead over Patrick Murphy grows narrower, look for him to continue to move to the center before Nov. 8.

In other news …

Critics of Amendment One on the ballot next month seized on the discovery of an audio tape of an official with the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee boasting that the utility industry is trying to deceive voters into supporting restrictions on solar power by supporting the amendment.

Hillsborough County has approved a 10-year, $600 million plan for transportation, but a lot of people remain unhappy about it all.

President Obama has cut a new television ad where he advocates for the election of Charlie Crist next month in Pinellas’ CD 13 race.

The president also called into local hip-hop station 95.7 The Beat yesterday to urge Tampa Bay area citizens to vote.

Rubio was in Tampa Wednesday, where he learned to roll cigars and discuss his disdain for regulations that could seriously jeopardize cigar factories like the J.C. Newman Company.

And you can mark the Pat Kemp-Tim Schock Hillsborough District 6 race as yet another local matchup that won’t feature a single debate between the main candidates.

Marco Rubio decries new FDA cigar regulations while visiting Tampa factory

Marco Rubio‘s re-election campaign brought him to a 13o-year-old cigar factory in Tampa Wednesday, where he blasted proposed federal rules which could severely harm it and other cigar manufacturers in the U.S.

A recent FDA ruling initially intended to regulate smokeless tobacco products, but summarily expanded to include cigars, would compel manufacturers like the J.C. Newman Company to go through a rigorous and costly application before any new product could go on the market. Officials said the imposed verification process would radically slow the rate of new cigars going on shelves as well as the number of new cigars in general.

“This is one more added cost to production. It’s going to put these companies unfortunately out of business,” said Rubio, who received a tour of the factory before addressing the media. “When you tell any company you can no longer offer new products, without going through a very expensive process, any industry … I don’t care what you sell … you’re going to struggle to survive, especially facing unfair foreign competition.”

Eric Newman, president of the 130-year-old J.C. Newman Company located in Tampa’s V.M. Ybor section, calls the new proposal “draconian,” and said it would cost his company $2.5 million in compliance costs to fully implement.

Rubio and his U.S. Senate colleague from Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson, initially introduced legislation called the “Traditional Cigar Manufacturing & Small Business Jobs Preservation Act” in 2011, which would remove the FDA’s jurisdiction over the premium cigar industry by amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor filed similar legislation in the House. They’ve introduced similar bills in the 2013 and 2015 sessions, to no avail. Rubio said that he and Nelson would again push for that bill’s passage before the end of the year.

Rubio was joined by Tampa state House District 60 Republican Dana Young, who, like Rubio, is on the ballot next month, where she is running for the Senate District 18 seat.

“This is a classic example of how in a bipartisan way, at the state and federal level, we can work together and try to stop both regulations of small businesses like this one and needless red tape involved with lumping in one product that is part of our culture with others that cause harm to the public,” she said.

Adding insult to injury, both Newman and Rubio said, was President Obama’s announcement last Friday that it is eliminating a $100 limit on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that American travelers can bring back from the island. Travelers can now purchase unlimited quantities of Cuban cigars in any country where they are sold but they can only be for personal use and cannot be sold.

“We love the competition,” insisted Newman, but said it wouldn’t be a fair fight between his cigars and the ones imported from Cuba, since they won’t be required to do the compliance costs the FDA requires of American cigar manufacturers.

“At a time when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton talk about bringing back American manufacturing jobs … the American government wants to shut us down, ” Newman said. “We’re horrified by that.”

Rubio also fielded questions on his Senate campaign, where the polls have suddenly tightened with Democrat Patrick Murphy with less than three weeks to go before Election Day.

“You don’t win in Florida in a presidential year as a Republican by 10 points. Or even by five points,” he said. “It is becoming the race I knew it would, which is a close race.” He then spent several moments listing what he said were his achievements in the Senate in the past six years.

Rick Scott wants feds to declare ‘major disaster’ in Florida after Matthew

In St. Augustine Monday for an event promoting tourism in America’s oldest city, Gov. Rick Scott reiterated his call for the federal government to approve Florida’s entire request for a “major disaster declaration.”

The federal government has not approved funding, asserts the governor’s office, “for individual assistance or for permanent work to roads, parks, and government buildings in local communities.”

Scott, who has been pushing for such since Hurricane Matthew, is understandably nettled.

“Since Hurricane Matthew impacted our state, I have continued to travel along Florida’s east coast meeting with Floridians who were affected by this storm. Many families and businesses have lost everything. Homes were destroyed, businesses have shut down and are unable to pay their employees, roads are torn up, and many of our beaches have suffered severe erosion,” Scott said, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

“I am very disappointed that President Obama has not yet approved our entire request for a major disaster declaration. We are waiting on the president to approve funding to help families and businesses pay for things like temporary housing, home repairs, and living expenses,” Scott’s statement continues.

“Today I was in St. Johns County and, while many people are trying to rebuild, they need this key federal funding so they can start the process.

“At the state level,” Scott added, “we are helping our communities any way we can and I am going to continue to fight for every available resource from the federal government so our families and businesses can get back to normal. I am going to continue to call on the president to help our state because Floridians deserve nothing less. I hope President Obama approves our request today.”

While there has been no public statement either way on this from the White House, perhaps that declaration is coming.

Action News Jax reports FEMA officials are in Duval County on Monday, inspecting the damage with an eye toward (perhaps) further relief.

Meanwhile, FEMA was touring St. Johns County Friday, according to News4Jax.

Florida Democratic delegation calls on Rick Scott to extend registration deadline to Oct. 14

(UPDATE) As Gov. Rick Scott continues to offer updates on Hurricane Matthew while it slowly moves up Florida’s Atlantic Coast, members of Florida’s Democratic delegation are calling on him to extend the voter registration deadline from next Tuesday to Friday, Oct. 14.

“We strongly urge you to extend the deadline for our citizens to register to vote in November’s election, at least from October 11th to October 14th,” reads the letter. “It goes without saying that our democracy is stronger when more people vote. With a natural disaster on our doorstep, registering to vote understandably will not be possible in the immediate aftermath of such a significant storm. Of course, clean up and dealing with storm-related damage will be many Floridians’ primary focus.”

The letter was sent by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and co-signed by Sen. Bill Nelson, and Congress members Alcee Hastings, Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch, Frederica Wilson, Alan Grayson, Lois Frankel, Patrick Murphy, and Gwen Graham.

Scott rejected such a request made on Thursday by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“I’m not going to extend it,” the governor told reporters Thursday. “Everybody has had a lot of time to register. On top of that, we have lots of opportunities to vote: early voting, absentee voting, Election Day. So I don’t intend to make any changes.”

Another Republican governor whose state is preparing to be hit by Hurricane Matthew, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, has extended her state’s registration deadline, which was scheduled for Saturday. That prompted the ACLU of Florida to join the Democratic delegation in calling on Scott to extend Florida’s registration deadline.

Later on Friday the ACLU of Florida made their own request to extend the voter registration deadline.

“This is a simple, non-partisan request for the governor to use his authority to ensure that every eligible voter has the opportunity to participate in this important election,” said ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon. “Preparing our state for a natural disaster and enabling full and fair participation in our democratic process aren’t mutually exclusive – in fact, they should go hand in hand.”

There has been some speculation the Democrats may sue Scott to extend the registration deadline if he doesn’t adhere to their request. But as election expert Rick Hasen wrote on Thursday in Slate, Scott could be sued for actually extending the deadline on the basis that such an extension is illegal, since only the Florida Legislature is allowed to set the rules on presidential elections.

The request to extend the deadline is hardly trivial, as parts of the state contend with the hurricane. As as has been widely reported in the past 24 hours, University of Florida political science professor Dan Smith has estimated “roughly” 50,000 people were registered in Florida over the last five days before the deadline in 2012.

Read the letter below:

Dear Governor Scott:

Thank you for your leadership and all of the hard work that you and state employees are doing to ensure the safety and security of Floridians as we prepare for Hurricane Matthew and related tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings.

We appreciate your steady communication with federal, state, and local leaders, as well as public health, transportation, and law enforcement experts, to ensure our state is fully prepared for evacuations, shelter openings, prevention of power outages, monitoring of fuel supply, search and rescue, and provisioning of resources and supplies.

As you have rightly cautioned our citizens, Hurricane Matthew is a life-threatening storm that Floridians must take seriously, or risk being killed by it. President Obama has officially declared Hurricane Matthew’s expected impact in Florida to be a federal emergency, and we will work with you to ensure Florida has the federal recovery resources and support we need.

Some of the potential impacts of the storm include structural damage to even the sturdiest buildings, which will be worsened by large airborne projectiles, and make some locations uninhabitable for months. In addition, we can expect trees to snap or uproot, rendering many roads impassable and causing widespread power and communications outages.

The federal government has further cautioned that surging and deadly winds are not the only areas of concern — major rainfall flooding can also be life-threatening, with rivers and tributaries rapidly overflowing their banks, causing flood control systems and barriers to become stressed, and escape routes to become submerged.

The bottom line is that Floridians do not and should not have anything on their minds right now other than keeping themselves and their families safe from what could be a historic Category 4 blow to a large part of our state. As a result, it will be logistically challenging and likely impossible for many who would like to register to vote to be able to do so before the impending deadline on October 11th.

We strongly urge you to extend the deadline for our citizens to register to vote in November’s election, at least from October 11th to October 14th. It goes without saying that our democracy is stronger when more people vote.  With a natural disaster on our doorstep, registering to vote understandably will not be possible in the immediate aftermath of such a significant storm. Of course, clean up and dealing with storm-related damage will be many Floridians’ primary focus.

Therefore, we respectfully request an extension of the voter registration deadline so that we may ensure the franchise, the integrity of our democracy, and the rights we as Americans hold dear, are fully protected.

As elected officials, we must do all that we can to keep our citizens safe as well as safeguard the freedom of every individual to elect their representatives, from the state house to the White House.

 

 

Mitch Perry Report for 9.29.16 — Congress is free to go home. Again.

First of all, congratulations to the uber-hip readers at Creative Loafing who, in their Best of the Bay voting for Best Reporter in 2016, selected a columnist who retired two years ago.

Congratulations also to our U.S. Congress who, by voting for a budget bill last to avoid a government shutdown, now gets to skip town for another two months before returning for an inevitable lame-duck session.

Wait a minute, some of you might think — didn’t they just have a seven-week summer break? Hey, that ended more than three weeks ago, silly.

Actually, let’s look at the details: Part of the deal includes passing a $1.1 billion Zika funding bill, as well as $500 million to Louisiana and other states facing natural disasters.

One of the hangups with why Congress hadn’t previously passed a Zika bill was that the GOP wanted to strip money for Planned Parenthood to combat the mosquito-borne virus. But they lost that gambit, as PP does get funding in the new bill.

Not that all of the Democrats were gracious in victory.

“It is deeply disappointing that until now, Republicans have insisted that the most appropriate response to a virus that overwhelmingly affects pregnant women was to place a politically motivated ban on funding for reproductive healthcare providers,” said Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Indeed, there’s nothing like a deadline. Government funding is scheduled to run out tomorrow. And, of course, there are elections to campaign in. You know, elections for the 435 members of the House where 96 percent of them are expected to win re-election.

Conservatives, meanwhile, are pissed again, saying Republican members sold out — again. POLITICO reports Heritage Action’s Dan Holler is blasting the deal, saying “House Republicans accept being jammed and essentially sit on the sidelines” and Hill Republicans “negotiate behind closed doors with Democrats, essentially giving them what they want.”

In other news …

After several disasters and many attempts, Florida finally scored yesterday when President Obama declared the state after Hurricane Hermine to be a disaster area, which is good news locally for folks in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

Hillsborough County Commission District 1 Democratic candidate Jeff Zampitella is challenging Sandy Murman in her bid for re-election this fall.

House District 66 candidates Larry Ahern and Lorena Grizzle were the only direct combatants at Wednesday’s Suncoast Tiger Bay Club meeting.

Meanwhile, Clearwater state Rep. Chris Latvala is the latest Pinellas Republican to throw some shade at the St. Pete Democratic administration in the wake of “Sewergate.”

And Michelle Obama wasn’t only in Pennsylvania campaigning for Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, but she also cut her first TV ad for the Democratic nominee, pushing the whole “role model” thing in comparison to you-know-who.

Bill Nelson seconds Rick Scott’s call for Hermine disaster declaration

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has joined Gov. Rick Scott’s appeal to the Obama administration to declare much of Florida a disaster zone.

“I am writing to urge that you approve the State of Florida’s request for a major disaster declaration related to Hurricane Hermine as soon as possible,” Nelson wrote in a letter to President Obama dated Wednesday.

“The eye of Hurricane Hermine made landfall on Sept. 2, 2016, in northern Florida, but the impacts of the storm affected many counties across the state, including flash flooding far down the western coast of Florida,” Nelson said.

“State and local government officials have led a concerted effort to help their communities recover, but federal assistance is needed. A major disaster declaration from you would provide vital resources to bolster Florida’s response and recovery.”

Scott wrote his letter to Obama Tuesday, noting that Hermine left $36 million in damage in the state.

A presidential disaster declaration would provide federal resources to support recovery efforts, both in individual assistance for families and public assistance to state agencies and local governments.

Thirty-eight counties have declared local state emergencies, 39 opened emergency operations centers and 34 opened shelters, Scott said.

“During the preceding 12 months, the state of Florida experienced repeated emergencies that required the development of significant state resources,” he wrote. “Individually these incidents may not have overwhelmed the ability of the State of Florida to respond. Cumulatively, however, these emergencies significantly impacted the state’s capability to provide financial support following Hurricane Hermine.”

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Democrat whose district includes Tallahassee, also supported a federal disaster declaration.

“I fully support Governor Rick Scott’s request for federal assistance and renew my call on President Obama to approve all available and applicable help for North Florida quickly,” Graham said Tuesday.

Mitch Perry Report for 9.16.16 —What will become of Edward Snowden?

Oliver Stone’s “Snowden” arrives in theaters today, and with it comes a campaign to have the former NSA contractor receive a pardon from the commander in chief.

At a press conference Wednesday, representatives from the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International spoke out in support of getting President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden.

“Cases like Edward Snowden’s are precisely why the presidential pardon power exists,” said Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s executive director, who referred specifically to cases when mitigating circumstances merit forgiveness for a crime.

But comments by the current occupant of the White House and the two people competing to replace him don’t indicate any newfound desire to grant him that pardon. Hillary Clinton has said Snowden shouldn’t be brought home “without facing the music,” while Donald Trump has said, “I think he’s a total traitor and I would deal with him harshly.”

In an op-ed published in the New York Times Thursday, Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch and Salil Shetty with Amnesty International wrote, “The enormous value of Mr. Snowden’s revelations is clear. What was their harm? Scant evidence has been provided for many officials’ ominous statements. Some officials have warned that the terrorism-related activity of certain groups has become harder to monitor, but the most dangerous adversaries have always taken precautions against surveillance, with at least one independent study showing little impact from the Snowden revelations.”

They went on to write that, “what has changed is that since the staggering extent of government surveillance became known, the public has sought greater privacy, and corporations have begun to provide it on widely used platforms. No doubt, among the millions of users of encrypted technologies there are a few who hide criminal activity. But the rest of us just want our privacy back.”

Members of our military, however, say Snowden gave away a lot. In 2014, then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey said that “the vast majority of the documents … had nothing to do with exposing government oversight of domestic activities,” but “were related to our military capabilities, operations, tactics, techniques, and procedures.”

I loved Oliver Stone’s films from the ’80s like “Salvador,” “Wall Street,” and “Platoon.” Can he still come up with the goods? It’s got a high bar to cross: Laura Poitras’ electrifying documentary on Snowden, “Citizenfour,” won the 2015 Oscar for Best Documentary.

In an interview with USA Today, Stone says the U.S. is doing far more than people know when it comes to cyber-warfare, which makes sense, actually.

“They see the surface of the news — the Russians are attacking us, the Chinese are hacking us — but they never hear we’re hacking them first,” he says. “But when you do this kind of warfare, it comes back to haunt you.”

In other news …

The Tampa City Council has approved red-light cameras in the city for at least another two years.

Councilman Charlie Miranda went off an epic rant about taxpayer support for major league sports franchise stadiums, and other things yesterday.

Patrick Murphy joined nearly all of his House Democratic colleagues (sans Gwen Graham) in opposing a GOP bill preventing any more transfers of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.

Dennis Ross co-sponsors bill to prohibit ransom payments to Iran

Last month, the Wall Street Journal first reported that the Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran.

The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran over a long-held dispute over a failed arms deal just before the Shah of Iran lost power in 1979.

After that news broke, White House spokesman Josh Earnest rejected suggestions the money transfer to Iran was ransom or a secret.

Two weeks later, however, the State Department confirmed the U.S. conditioned the release of that cash payment to Iran on the departure of American prisoners from Tehran.

The news outraged Republicans, with some calling for a congressional hearing to discuss the matter further.

Now comes legislation co-sponsored by Polk County Republican Dennis Ross that will prohibit further cash payments to the Iranian government.

“I co-sponsored H.R. 5931 because the president must be held accountable for putting American lives and our national security at risk,” Ross said in a statement on Tuesday. “The $400 million cash ransom the Obama Administration easily handed over to Iran is unsettling and calls into question the president’s actions as they pertain to the ‘no concessions’ policy.”

Congressional Republicans never signed on to the landmark nuclear deal that the U.S. made with the P5 +1 group of world powers last fall, and the report about the $400 million cash made public last month has only angered them further.

“The Obama Administration continues to mislead the American people about this horrible deal, while Iran repeatedly violates the deal with no repercussions,” Ross said. “Not only has Iran been permitted to improve its capability of producing enriched uranium, it also has been allowed to develop advanced uranium centrifuges, deny IAEA inspectors access to its facilities, acquire nuclear technology, and deploy an advanced Russian missile defense system to protect its uranium enrichment facility from airstrikes.”

Ross says that this bill, sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce of California, ensures a similar transfer of funds to Iran can’t happen again. “H.R. 5931 makes clear the Obama Administration violated longstanding U.S. policy by releasing prisoners and paying ransom for the return of Americans held hostage by Iran, prohibits cash payments to Iran, and demands transparency on future settlements to ensure they are not used to pay ransom.”

The bill has drawn 44 Republican co-sponsors, and will be brought up before the Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

The Senate introduced a similar bill under Florida Sen. Marco Rubio that would prohibit the federal government from paying ransom. It would also stop payments to Iran from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Judgment Fund until Iran returns money it received and pays American victims of Iranian terrorism what they are owed.

Ross is running for re-election to his seat in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, running against Democrat Jim Lange.

Mitch Perry Report for 8.22.16 — Who’s down with TPP?

Good morning, y’all. Welcome to the last full week of campaigning before your Aug. 30 primary election in the Sunshine State.

Before we get into the news of the day, how was your weekend? I went and saw a couple of good, if somewhat overrated movies (“Come Hell or High Water,” “Don’t Think Twice”), and finished reading an underrated novel (Jay McInerney’s “Bright, Precious Days”).

I also voted, as the majority of Floridians will do, before next week’s primary election. Not much more to say about that, other than I now have to contact the supervisor of elections to return to being a Non-Party Affiliated voter.

One of the issues Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton agree on is they don’t like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the regional trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations.

Although a lot of progressives don’t trust Clinton’s conversion on the agreement and fear she’ll turn around and push for it if she’s elected in the fall, the fact of the matter is, the agreement may already be approved before either her or Trump is inaugurated in January.

As the New York Times Jackie Calmes reports, President Obama will be making a big push for Congress to pass the agreement during the lame duck session of Congress, probably in December.

John Kerry, Ash Carter, Michael Mullen, and former GOP Maine Senator and Defense Secretary William Cohen will also be making the rounds to campaign for the TPP.

Will it be enough? Obama will also have surrogates like Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn pushing that the deal will be good for the Tampa Bay and Florida economy.

But with opposition to trade deals being a major tangible issue that both the far-right and far-left can agree on, can POTUS get that last legislative and diplomatic achievement added to his ledger as he closes out his presidency?

In other news …

A poll published yesterday has Debbie Wasserman Schultz leading Tim Canova in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District by 10 percentage points.

After our story last week about the fact that it looked Eric Lynn and Ben Diamond wouldn’t be engaging in a one-on-one debate before the Aug. 30 primary, we offered up the weekly radio show I host as a possible venue — and the candidates have accepted.

HD 60 candidate Jackie Toledo has been talking tough on immigration, despite the actions of her spouse a few years ago.

Kevin Beckner reacted Friday to Mike Deeson‘s report about the Hillsborough PTC pulling their money out of the clerk of the court’s office.

The candidates in the Senate District 19 race met up at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club forum on Friday.

Tim Schock hasn’t said much about Jim Norman‘s “issues” in their Hillsborough County Commission District 6 Republican race — until now.

Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin was all over the Tampa Bay area this weekend making the rounds for her new book on the U.S.- Saudi Arabia relationship. You can read our interview with her here.

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