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Endorsement watch: National Women’s Political Caucus of Florida, National Federation of Independent Business and others issue endorsements

There are just a few weeks until the election, and organizations across the state are rolling out endorsements for state and federal candidates.

Several organizations — including the National Women’s Political Caucus, Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Federation of Independent Business — issued endorsements.

The National Federation of Independent Business has thrown its support behind Marco Rubio.

The national organization announced it had endorsed Rubio in his re-election bid. In a statement, Bill Herrle, the executive director of NFIB/Florida, said Rubio has “proven that he understands what it takes to defend free enterprise and allow small business owners to thrive.”

“Small business owners are glad to see Senator Rubio running for re-election,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “In the Senate, he has worked to reduce crushing taxes and protect small business from red tape and regulations. We need him back in the Senate next year continuing to promote pro-growth economic policies.”

Rubio faces Carlos Beruff in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The National Federation of Independent Business announced it was backing Rep. Ron DeSantis in his re-election bid in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

“Congressman DeSantis has been a strong voice for small business and deserves to be re-elected,” said NFIB National Political Director Sharon Sussin. “He stood with small business owners on every critical vote the NFIB has scored in this Congress. We need him back in the U.S. House next year continuing to promote legislation that reduces the tax and regulatory burdens on small businesses in Florida.”

Sen. Tom Cotton has thrown his support behind Francis Rooney.

The Arkansas Republican announced he was backing Rooney in Florida’s 19th Congressional District.

“I know firsthand the importance of having strong leadership in Washington to protect America from threats against our freedom. Francis Rooney will never relent in protecting our great nation, and he has the same commitment I do to destroying our greatest national security threat — ISIS,” said Cotton. “I’ve never endorsed a candidate in a primary campaign before, but our world is changing, and we need leadership in Congress that is committed to defeating radical Islamic terrorism.”

The endorsement comes one week after Ambassador John Bolton threw his support behind Rooney, the former ambassador to the Holy See.

“Francis shares my view that the world is safer when America takes a firm stand on the international stage,” said Bolton in a statement. “I know he will work to ensure our enemies fear us and our allies know they can trust us, which is why I endorse his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Rooney faces Chauncey Goss and Dan Bongino in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The Fraternal Order of Police District 5 has thrown its support behind Kathleen Passidomo.

The group announced it endorsed Passidomo in Senate District 28. The district is made up of FOP lodges in Broward, Collier and Hendry counties. The Fraternal Order of Police represents more than 20,000 active and retired law enforcement officers across Florida.

Passidomo faces Matt Hudson in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The Dade County Police Benevolent Association has thrown its support behind Frank Artiles.

The organization announced it was endorsing Artiles in his bid for Senate District 40.

“The Dade County Police Benevolent Association is proud to inform you of its endorsement of your candidacy,” said John Rivera, president of Dade County PBA, in their endorsement. “We feel that you will be one of the very best, and we wish you a successful campaign.”

Artiles said he appreciated the support of the organization.

“Our police officers are the first line of defense in our communities, and I am proud to announce that Dade County PBA has endorsed my candidacy for state Senate,” he said. “Many of my fellow Marines currently serve as first responders, and I will always support my brothers and sisters in blue.”

Artiles will face the winner of the Aug. 30 Democratic primary in November.

Rep. Ted Yoho has thrown his support behind Chuck Clemons.

First elected to Florida’s 3rd Congressional District in 2012, Yoho announced he was backing Clemons in House District 21.

“There is no question that Chuck Clemons will be an outstanding conservative in the Florida House,” said Yoho. “He’s got deep roots in our community and a long record of public service that have prepared him to effectively represent us in Tallahassee. I plan to vote for him, and I look forward to having such a strong leader for our area in Tallahassee.”

House District 21 includes Alachua, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, which are part of Yoho’s district. Clemons said he was honored to have Yoho’s support.

“I share his commitment to the principles of liberty and limited government, and I look forward to working with him as we both serve the residents of North Central Florida,” said Clemons.

Clemons faces Republicans Wenda Lewis and Tim Rogers in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The National Women’s Political Caucus of Florida is throwing support behind Ken Keechl.

The organization announced it was recommending Keechl in his House District 93 bid.

“We are very pleased to offer Ken Keechl our highest recommendation of his race for state representative,” said Christina Disbrow, chairwoman of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Florida. We are proud to see a male candidate so supportive toward increasing the participation of women in the political field. We look forward to working with him toward victory.”

Keechl said he appreciates the organization’s support.

“It is crucial that we fight for equal opportunities for all women,” he said. “As a legislator, my priorities will be to achieve equal pay for equal work, greater access to affordable reproductive health care, and paid family leave. I’m excited to stand with the women’s political caucus in this battle to flip State House District 93.”

Keechl faces Doug Oberman in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

National Federation of Independent Business backs Ron DeSantis for re-election

Florida’s 6th Congressional District Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis got another key endorsement for re-election Monday, as the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) fell in behind the incumbent, citing his “strong record of supporting legislation that would help small businesses.”

“Congressman DeSantis has been a strong voice for small business and deserves to be re-elected,” said NFIB National Political Director Sharon Sussin. “He stood with small business owners on every critical vote the NFIB has scored in this Congress. We need him back in the U.S. House next year continuing to promote legislation that reduces the tax and regulatory burdens on small businesses in Florida.”

“At a time in which millions of Americans have dropped out of the workforce, debt is mounting, and the economy is sluggish, policies aiming to facilitate economic growth are as essential as they are overdue,” said Congressman DeSantis. “Small business growth and vitality are essential to strengthening the economy. We need to liberate small businesses from an expanding bureaucracy, excessive red tape, and a complex tax code that all make it more difficult to succeed. That’s why I’m proud to have the support of NFIB, America’s leading small business association.”

DeSantis has been a fundraising juggernaut, bringing in almost half a million dollars during the second quarter of 2016, with momentum not even slowing down as he’s moved from a run for Senate to a run for re-election.

Ron DeSantis takes in $493K in latest filing period for re-election bid

Rep. Ron DeSantis was the fundraising king of the Senate race before he stepped aside for Marco Rubio, and the 6th Congressional District Republican showed another robust period of campaign finance in Q2 of 2016.

$486,096 of new money didn’t quite keep up with $558,873 of expenses, but at the end of the period, the incumbent DeSantis still has $3,147,670 cash on hand.

DeSantis, who has quickly garnered a national profile for his positions on national security issues, is well ahead of his competition for the NE Florida seat that extends from southern St. Johns County to the Daytona Beach area.

G.G. Galloway ended the filing period with $56,938 on hand.

Fred Costello, as of Saturday morning, did not post current numbers. At the end of March, he had $86,153 on hand, a number inflated by a $100,000 personal loan.

John Mica congressional hearing on Orlando’s lost federal anti-terrorism money aims some blame at Congress

Whose fault was it that Orlando did not qualify for federal funding to shore up anti-terrorism efforts the past few years? U.S. Rep. John Mica called a congressional hearing Friday to see, and several officials concluded it was at least partly because of Congress.

Mica was not entirely convinced and countered with several reasons why he is convinced the federal Urban Area Security Initiative Grant Program under the Department of Homeland Security should have done more to provide funding to Orlando for law enforcement training and tactical equipment before the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub.

Mica, a Winter Park Republican, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Ponte Vedra Beach Republican, co-chaired the joint hearing of their two subcommittees of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Friday.

The hearing included testimony from Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and Orlando Police Chief John Mina, who both said they needed — but were denied — more federal money in the past several years for anti-terrorism training and equipment.

The Orlando area received $44.5 million of such funding through the Urban Area Security Initiative between 2002 and 2012. Since then, the Department of Homeland Security had ranked the City Beautiful’s needs for the money too low, and other cities got antiterrorism grants while Orlando did not. Mica, DeSantis, Demings, Mina and others have been adamant that Orlando’s risks as a terrorist threat — made real by the June 12 murder of 49 people and wounding of 53 others at the popular gay nightclub Pulse — were underrated by the department, costing it crucial training and equipment it could have used that day.

After all, Orange County is home not just to 1.3 million residents, but to 66.1 million tourists a year, daily doubling the county’s population and creating so-called “soft targets” all over the metropolitan area, Demings pointed out.

But Brian Kamioe, assistant administrator of grant programs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which scores the rankings of top potential terrorism targets, testified legislation Congress passed for 2013 tied Homeland Security’s hands. Language put in the funding bill that year, and in most years since, explicitly limited the grants to only certain numbers of highest-ranking cities, and expressly forbade the department from making exceptions in cases, such as Orlando, that might have had other factors.

When asked what could be done about it, Kamioe responded that Congress could give the department more discretion on how to award the grants, mainly to allow the Homeland Security secretary to be able to override the numerical scores FEMA and intelligence agencies work up for the cities.

Demings and the fourth witness, Walter Purdy, president of the Terrorism Research Center, a Washington nonprofit, independent think tank, agreed with that, and Mina did not disagree.

“Some discretion should be given to the secretary to determine where that line is drawn,” Demings said.

“Maybe if the secretary of Homeland Security had more discretion, maybe some of those funds would be able to be allocated to maybe those tier-two cities and regions that need some of these things,” Purdy said.

Mica conceded “perhaps more could be done” to provide discretion, but he countered with his convictions that FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security were using faulty ranking formulas that needed to be updated.

Kamioe insisted the formulas accounted for Orlando’s tourists. But Mica said the weighting must somehow be flawed, declaring that clearly, the process failed. He also expressed outrage that as much as $1 billion in grants given some cities dating back as far as 2011 still hadn’t been spent yet. He added that if a city can’t spend its federal grant promptly, the money should be recirculated to other cities needing grants.

There also was a widespread concern from Mica, DeSantis, Mina, Demings and Purdy, that the nature of terrorism in the United States has changed to soft targets such as nightclubs, and that the Department of Homeland Security’s assessments must change as well.

“Somewhere … we are missing the mark,” Mica said. “We missed the mark dramatically in Orlando. Again, Mr. Purdy pointed out we’ve had San Bernardino, Boston, my community; they’re hitting soft targets.

“Somehow the threat assessment isn’t dealing with the reality of what they are doing to us. They’re coming at us in soft targets. We said we are a soft target. Look at the death toll list from Orlando. These people came from all over,” Mica continued.

Mitch Perry Report for 7.14.16 — Patrick Murphy on defense, again

Political maxim No. 459: “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”

Let’s go to Patrick Murphy and his campaign for Senate, shall we?

The Murphy camp is furiously shooting down a report by Alex Leary in the Tampa Bay Times published last night that said his congressional office sought to delay news about relief for businesses affected by the toxic algae crisis so he could announce it at a news conference today.

Leary reported that an exchange of emails between Murphy’s office and the Small Business Administration “gives the impression Murphy wanted to take credit for the relief.”

Murphy’s office is denying the report, with a spokesman saying, “Of course our office did not request for this program to be delayed. Anyone who reads the original email can see that we did not. The official emails that Republicans are distributing to press intentionally leave out the Small Business Administration’s email to our office on Monday morning, which suggests no impending announcement.”

Murphy’s Senate opponents pounced on the Leary report anyway, as you might imagine.

“Putting his own political fortunes in front of the needs of legitimate small business owners is stunningly shameless,” said Alan Grayson Senate campaign spokesman Michael Ceraso. “It’s also an abuse of his official power that needs to be immediately investigated.”

“Patrick Murphy should take full responsibility for this attempt to delay funds, resign his office immediately, and be fully investigated by the U.S. House Committee on Ethics for any other abuses of power,” said GOP Senate candidate Carlos Beruff. “These are the kind of Washington games that Floridians are sick of, and why the voters will clean house in Washington.”

This is another bad story in a series of bad weeks for Murphy and his chances of capturing the U.S. Senate this year.

Although his campaign team has forcefully refuted the allegations made by CBS 4 Miami reporter Jim DeFede that he exaggerated his resume and business experience in a two-part series last month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running ads every day on cable news in Florida repeating those allegations, using material directly out of those reports.

And then there’s Marco Rubio. The Florida Republican’s decision to come back and run for re-election is proving to be a nightmare for the entire Democratic Party, as hopes of taking the seat away from the Republicans seem to be slipping away every day. A new Quinnipiac Poll released this morning shows Rubio leading both Murphy and Grayson by double digits.

Can the Jupiter representative right his ship? It ain’t looking great at this point.

In other news..

Charlie Crist got an earful from some of his potential constituents, but he wanted in on Wednesday, asking 20 local small business men and women to tell their issues and complaints he says he hopes to address if elected to Congress this fall.

Polk County Republican Congressman Dennis Ross is calling for AG Loretta Lynch’s head, saying she needs to go, after watching her decline to explain the DOJ’s legal basis for not indicting Hillary Clinton for her email mess at the State Department

Darryl Rouson and Ed Narain had the most concrete plans in Tuesday night’s NAACP-sponsored Senate District 19 debate.

John Bolton’s super PAC (and his mustache) is contributing funds to Marco Rubio and Ron DeSantis‘ re-election campaigns.

Former Ambassador John Bolton contributes $10K to Marco Rubio, $5K to Ron DeSantis

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who flirted with a presidential run briefly last year, is getting active in supporting Florida Republicans running for re-election this year.

Bolton announced today his political action committee, known as the John Bolton PAC, is contributing $10,000 to Marco Rubio’s Senate campaign, and $5,000 to Congressman Ron Desantis‘ bid for re-election to Florida’s 6th Congressional District. He endorsed them both last month.

“Marco Rubio understands foreign policy and he is a critical voice to have in the U.S. Senate during these precarious times at home and abroad,” Bolton said Wednesday. “Marco is a champion for strengthening our military and advancing our international interests, which is why I endorse him and the John Bolton PAC has donated the maximum amount of $10,000 to his campaign for the U.S. Senate.”

Noting DeSantis’ military background serving in Iraq with the Navy, Bolton said, “Since joining the House of Representatives, Ron has been a leader in the fight against terrorism and as chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, he has worked diligently to defend our homeland; just a few of many reasons why I strongly endorse his re-election to Congress.”

With these contributions, Bolton’s PAC has now contributed $377,000 and endorsed 50 candidates in the 2016 cycle. He created the PAC in 2014 to help more hawkish candidates who emphasize national security in their campaign platforms.

Both candidates are running in contested GOP primaries next month. though Rubio is crushing his lone GOP opponent — Carlos Beruff — in every poll taken since that race was reduced to two candidates.

John Bolton backs Marco Rubio, Ron DeSantis re-election bids

On Thursday, Ambassador John Bolton announced his backing of Marco Rubio‘s bid for Senate re-election, and Ron DeSantis’ bid to get re-elected in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

A press release from Bolton’s PAC frames the Florida endorsements as “part of a larger effort by Ambassador Bolton to ensure Republicans maintain their majority in Congress.”

“Marco Rubio has proven himself to be a valuable asset to the United States during his time in the Senate,” said Bolton. “He is one of the most powerful voices in the areas of foreign affairs and national security, and we cannot afford to lose his presence at a time when our nation is facing terrorism at home and abroad. Due to his track record and experience, and my great concern for our nation’s security, I am supporting Sen. Rubio for re-election to the United States Senate.”

Bolton also had kind words for DeSantis, who had led the money race in the GOP Senate primary up until Rubio decided to run for re-election, and DeSantis decided to run for two more years in the House of Representatives.

“As chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Ron DeSantis’ voice has been critical in keeping America safe,” said Bolton.

“We cannot afford to lose his leadership in Congress, and Ron has my endorsement and a contribution from the John Bolton PAC, which gave $10,000 to his campaign. Ron has a bright future in Florida politics, and I will support him as he continues to serve this nation’s interests and the people of his district in the House of Representatives.”

Both Rubio and DeSantis face contested primaries. But Bolton’s support and endorsement will only bolster their cases with GOP voters.

CD 6 Republican Fred Costello ‘in it to win it’ against Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis decided Wednesday to run for re-election in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

While some primary opponents cleared out of the field, at least one will stay.

State Rep. Fred Costello has no intention of leaving the race, he said in a press release Thursday.

“DeSantis’ decision to back out of the U.S. Senate race and enter the Congressional District 6 race rather than run in Congressional District 4 where he lives does not in any way change my focus,” Costello said.

“In spite of the odds favoring a candidate with over $3 million in the bank, I will enthusiastically continue my campaign to serve as our District 6 Congressman, where I have lived for 39 years, as I said I would do,” Costello added.

Costello went on to contrast himself, “a candidate with a solid conservative record as a state representative who is focused on the needs of our community and our great nation,” versus the incumbent, “a candidate who is not a part of our community and has already demonstrated he is more interested in raising his national profile as a career politician in preparation for higher office than serving his constituents as their Congressman.”

There is a resource gap in the campaign. Costello, as of his first-quarter filing, has $86,000 banked. DeSantis has $3.2 million, with PAC money and soft money support not factored in.

Costello, a former Ormond Beach mayor, added that unlike “DeSantis, who lives near Jacksonville outside District 6 and has already demonstrated he is looking toward the next step in his political career, I will be fully focused on Congressional District 6 for the next eight years should the voters give me the honor of representing them as their member of Congress.”

Costello’s narrative is already drawing skepticism from informed sources, who note Costello cut a deal to leave the state House as part of the contentious race between Eric Eisnaugle and Chris Sprowls. Costello backed Eisnaugle. That support, some suggest, is a reason Speaker-Designate Richard Corcoran, a Sprowls backer, isn’t helping to clear the field for Costello jumping back into the state House race.

Mitch Perry Report for 6.23.16 — Another story on Patrick Murphy enhancing his resume

Forgive us for not being too coherent, having stayed up until the early morning hours today watching the Hillsborough County MPO’s discussion of the TBX project until 2:20 a.m.this morning. You can read our account here.

Although the huge news in Florida Politics yesterday morning was Marco Rubio‘s re-entry into a Senate race he said he would never get back into; you have to believe Rubio feels like he can handle his competition pretty handily.

The Democratic Party, both statewide and nationally, have gone whole hog with Patrick Murphy as being the man who can take the seat (forget the polls that show Alan Grayson to do virtually as well against every Republican, including Rubio).

What about Murphy today, after CBS Miami aired a very damaging report on Murphy’s claims about his role as a small-business man and as a CPA. Some of this had already been reported by the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald‘s Kristen Clark. But it’s damaging.

Check out Jim DeFede‘s story here.

In other news …

Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson — the two top Democratic Senate candidates who would lose to Rubio according to a new poll, predictably blasted the Republican for his flip-flop back into the race. Murphy later said on a conference call that the fact that Rubio won’t preclude staying in the Senate for the full six years to run for president again was “shocking” and “unacceptable.”

It’s hard to read Carlos Lopez-Cantera “thank” Rubio for getting into the race. It just is.

Moments after the news became official, conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham (a Ron DeSantis supporter), blasted Rubio, saying it’s exactly why people are cynical about politics.

Tampa Bay area Democratic Representative Kathy Castor was part of a group of dozens of Democrats holding a sit-in on the House floor, demanding that House Speaker Paul Ryan give them a vote on two different gun-control measures.

St. Petersburg-based trial attorney Augie Ribeiro will reportedly enter the SD 19 race.

Andrew Warren, running to beat Mark Ober for Hillsborough State Attorney, has unveiled a set of ethics reforms for the office.

Stanley Gray explains why he’s the best choice in the Hillsborough County School Board’s District 7 race.

Brandon Patty withdraws from congressional race

Brandon Patty, in many respects, is cut from the same cloth as Ron DeSantis, the incumbent Republican in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

A young, telegenic Republican with a strong sense of America taking an assertive role in the foreign policy sphere, it was and is easy to see Patty as a rising star in the Florida and national GOP.

With DeSantis out of the Senate race and running for re-election, Patty revealed to today he would not be running for the Republican nomination in CD 6 after all.

In terms of timing, having to announce this on Wednesday is bittersweet. Sen. Rubio was slated to headline a D.C. fundraiser for Patty this evening, which would have been a boost to his campaign in a crowded CD 6 field.

Now, however, Patty is suspending his campaign and endorsing DeSantis for re-election and Rubio for Senate.

And the festivities in Washington will be a “thank you” event.

Patty sounded disappointed, yet undaunted on the phone from Washington.

“I got into this race for the issues,” Patty said, which include national security, a desire to “take back Washington,” and to “reassert American leadership.”

There has been speculation he might look at a state House run; however, Patty tells us he’s “not pivoting … not running for any other seat” in 2016.

Despite the end of his campaign, Patty describes it as an “unbelievable experience,” about which he has “zero regrets.”

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