Sunburn 10.26.16 — Marco Rubio, Patrick Murphy set to clash for final time


Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


Call it the final showdown.

Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy are set to face off tonight in their second debate of the 2016 election cycle. The South Florida showdown comes as most polls show a tight race between the two men, and is likely the last time many Floridians will get to hear where they stand on the issues.

The debate comes at a critical time in the campaign. More than 1.6 million ballots have already been cast, and recent polls show Murphy is gaining ground. According to to RealClearPolitics, Rubio now leads by an average of 3.4 percentage points. And that margin has narrowed in the two weeks since Rubio and Murphy last shared a stage.

Rubio has been dogged by Democrats for his continued support of Donald Trump, a position he tried to clarify during the first debate. The Miami Republican hasn’t campaigned for Trump, and has tried to distance himself and his ties to the bombastic businessman

But the race between Trump and Hillary Clinton nears the finish line, Clinton and other top Democratic surrogates are turning their attention to down ballot races. That means increased support for Murphy from the likes of Clinton and President Barack Obama.

Rubio likely won’t be the only candidate on the debate stage fielding questions about Trump.

On Tuesday, CNN dug up an old photo of Murphy’s father at a groundbreaking ceremony alongside Trump. The elder Murphy’s construction company also built two luxury buildings that bear Trump’s name, according to the report.

And while Rubio’s attendance was a big factor during the presidential primary, expect him to hit Murphy on his record since taking office. The Rubio campaign continues to point out that Murphy has “nothing to show” for his four years in Congress, and it’s a narrative that has also been picked up by political committees.

Want to tune in? The hour-long debate — hosted by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association — kicks off at 7 p.m. at Broward College in Davie. The debate will be aired in each of Florida’s media markets and will be simulcast on all Florida Public Radio member stations.

RUBIO: ‘WE’RE NOT GOING TO BE HELD HOSTAGE TO WHATEVER MURPHY’S MOOD IS’ ON DEBATES via Kristen M. Clark of the Miami Herald — Rubio has ruled out the potential for any additional debates after Wednesday night’s showdown with Democrat Murphy at Broward College — what will be their second of two scheduled debates this fall. “It’s going to be the final one, because we’re not going to keep playing this game,” Rubio told Adrian Whitsett of WESH 2 News in Orlando over the weekend. Rubio’s comments came a day after Rubio and Murphy quarreled over who was to blame for the cancellation of what could have been their third debate, organized by Univision. The Spanish-language network took the event off the table after Murphy’s campaign objected to the station’s proposal — which Rubio supported — of having the debate in Spanish with a translator for Murphy. Murphy wanted the debate in English and then dubbed for the Hispanic-viewing audience. (His campaign accused Rubio of seeking unprecedented rules.) “We have things to schedule, places to be and things to do,” Rubio said. “We’re not going to be held hostage to whatever Patrick Murphy’s mood is in the morning when they call him about debates.”

LATEST POLL: RUBIO 40%, MURPHY 38% — A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows 40 percent of likely voters said they were backing Rubio in the U.S. Senate race, while 38 percent picked Murphy. The poll found 12 percent of voters either didn’t know or refused to say and 6 percent said they were voting for someone else. Murphy has the support from 74 percent of Democrats and 35 percent of independent voters. The survey found 6 percent of Republicans said they were backing him. Rubio, the poll found, has the backing of 79 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of independent voters. He also has support from across the aisle, with support from 13 percent of likely Democratic voters. The online poll of 1,532 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 5 through Oct. 12. The Reuters/Ipsos poll is in line with other recent surveys, which showed a tight race between the two men. According to RealClearPolitics, Rubio has an average 3.4 percentage point lead over Murphy.

TOP DEMOCRATS STEAMED THAT PARTY LETTING RUBIO SKATE via Burgess Everett, Marc Caputo and Kevin Robillard of POLITICO – Tensions are flaring at the highest rungs of the Democratic Party over its decision to pull out of the Florida Senate race, with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Florida donors pressing to go all-out to unseat Rubio in the final days of the campaign, but New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and the party’s Senate campaign arm arguing it’s not feasible because of budget constraints. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — under the direction of Schumer and its chairman, Montana Sen. Jon Tester — has redirected millions of dollars from Florida to North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana. They reason that those states are both much cheaper to advertise in and offer a more promising path to the Senate majority than Florida, where Rubio has long been favored to defeat Murphy. But Reid and other Democrats believe that defeating Rubio would be the ultimate Election Day trophy for Democrats, given his national stature and the re-election threat he could post to a potential President Hillary Clinton in 2020. With just two weeks until Election Day, time is running short for Democrats to shift their approach, particularly after the DSCC and Senate Majority PAC scrapped $16 million in ad reservations in the state that would be far more expensive to purchase now. Murphy is getting pummeled by Republicans on the airwaves — the GOP and conservative outside groups are outspending Democratic groups by 4-to-1 — yet the party is poised to leave Murphy to fend for himself in the final weeks of the race.

DESPITE DENIALS OF BUSINESS TIES, DEMOCRAT MURPHY’S DAD WAS PICTURED WITH DONALD TRUMP AT GROUNDBREAKING via Andrew Kaczynski of CNN – Murphy … has flat-out denied he and his family have ever done business with Trump, even though his family’s construction company built two Trump-branded condominiums in the state and Murphy’s father appeared alongside Trump at a groundbreaking ceremony for one of the projects. Murphy, who has tried to tie [MarcoRubio to the controversial words and actions of the Republican presidential nominee, found the tables turned on him in a recent debate, when Rubio accused him and his family of making “millions” off business dealings with Trump. After the debate Murphy told the local NBC8 station in Florida of Rubio’s attack, “It’s an absolute lie, we’ve never done business with Donald Trump. We’ve never had a contract with Donald Trump.” But the construction company owned by Murphy’s father, Thomas Murphy built two luxury buildings that bear Trump’s name — “Trump Royale” and “Trump Hollywood.” The hundred plus million dollar contracts were awarded to Coastal Construction in 2005 and 2007, respectively. The younger Murphy was briefly a vice president at the construction company, and still owns millions of dollars’ worth of company stock gifted to him by his father.

Here’s the image the CNN report references:


— “Cynthia ‘Cindy’ Graves: Patrick Murphy — utter disrespect for women” via Florida Politics

AMERICANS UNITED FOR CHANGE SLAMS RUBIO OVER SOCIAL SECURITY — The national organization is rolling out a new advertisement meant to highlight Rubio’s position on Social Security. In the 30-second spot, a narrator says Rubio said Social Security has “weakened us as a people” and wants to raise the retirement age. “Senator Rubio’s refusal to sign a simple, straight-forward pledge against cutting Social Security benefits says it all. We can only conclude Senator Rubio’s past record of support for slashing benefits via privatization and raising the retirement age reflects his current policy,” said Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change,” in a statement. “What’s really rich is Senator Rubio wants to roll back what are already meager Social Security benefits at the same time he proposes giving millionaires and outsourcers a gigantic tax break.” The organization has launched a six-figure, “Hands Off My Social Security!” campaign in Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin last month. Click on the image below to watch the ad.

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STATE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE – WHERE ARE THE UNDECIDED VOTERS via Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight — Both candidates, in other words, are slowly gaining votes from undecided voters and from third-party candidates. Emphasis on “slowly,” because there are still a lot of these voters up for grabs. About 15 percent of the electorate isn’t yet committed to Clinton or Trump, as compared to just 5 percent who weren’t committed to President Obama or Mitt Romney at this point in 2012. … These undecideds, however, aren’t distributed evenly across the various states. … The fewest undecideds are in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada. And that makes sense. These are states where both parties have their bases, with voters split heavily along racial, religious and educational lines. In these states, it’s mostly a competition to see whose base is a little larger and who can turn out more of their voters. Coincidentally or not, these states also have a lot of early voting, except for Pennsylvania. So you’re seeing a lot of campaign activity in most of these states, especially in Florida, North Carolina and Nevada. Campaigns generally think that by this late stage of the race, they can improve their margins more by focusing on turnout rather than persuasion — especially in early-voting states where the election has already begun.


… Among the more traditional swing states, Maine, Michigan, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire have more undecided voters than the others. You might notice that they have something in common: a lot of white voters, and particularly a lot of middle-class whites, which is one group that’s still relatively torn between the candidates. These states are important because if there’s some sort of last-minute surge back toward Trump, he has more opportunity to make up ground in these states than in places like Pennsylvania, where more of the vote is locked in. There are Election Day scenarios where Clinton finds herself in unexpected trouble in one of her supposed firewall states such as Michigan or New Hampshire, but she squeaks by with a win in North Carolina or Florida because her turnout operation and early voting save the day. That might not be the way Clinton would draw things up, but it would still count as a win.

LATEST POLL OF FLORIDA – HILLARY CLINTON LEADS DONALD TRUMP 42% TO 38% — A newly released Reuters/Ipsos poll of likely Florida voters shows Clinton leads Trump, 42 percent to 38 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson received 6 percent support, followed by Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 2 percent. Four percent of respondents said they either would vote for someone else or refused to say who they were voting for. The online poll of 1,532 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 5 through Oct. 12. The survey found Clinton has the backing of 25 percent of independent voters, compared to the 38 percent who said they were backing Trump. Both candidates carry the same share, 83 percent, of their base. The poll found 7 percent of likely Democratic voters were backing Trump, compared to 6 percent of likely Republican voters supporting Clinton. The Democratic nominee’s lead narrows in a head-to-head match-up, 42 percent to 40 percent.

NEARLY 2 MILLION FLORIDIANS HAVE ALREADY VOTED – As of Wednesday morning, 1,431,808 vote-by-mail ballots have been returned for the November general election, and 552,340 people have voted early across the state. The tallies were posted on the state Division of Elections website. Registered Republicans lead in vote-by-mail ballots to Democrats 603,072 to 564,518, but Democrats lead GOP voters in early voting 240,103 to 216,483. A total of 310,672 other party and no-party voters have returned ballots to their local supervisors of elections or voted early. The state’s website for vote-by-mail and early voting statistics is here. Lawmakers recently changed the name of traditional “absentee” ballots to “vote-by-mail” ballots.

STATE HAS VERIFIED NEARLY 94,000 NEW VOTER REGISTRATIONS via Florida Politics – The Division of Elections on Tuesday reported it had verified 93,917 voter registration applications from the recent extended registration period. The number left to verify has fallen to 26,091. Applications received by mail and postmarked by October 18 are still being accepted. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker had extended the registration deadline by one week to last Tuesday to allow those affected by Hurricane Matthew extra time to sign up to vote. The “Voter Registration Daily Activity Reports” website is here.

TRUMP TRIES, ONCE AGAIN, TO WIN OVER MIAMI CUBANS via Patricia Mazzei and Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald – Trump devoted much of Tuesday to Miami’s Cuban Americans, the reliably Republican voters who have stubbornly resisted this year to lean decisively toward the GOP nominee. In Little Havana, Trump paid tribute to Bay of Pigs veterans who had honored him with a historic endorsement. “I’m humbled by this endorsement from true freedom fighters,” Trump said from a lectern at Little Havana’s Bay of Pigs museum, which doubles as the headquarters for the veterans’ association. “You were fighting for the values of freedom and liberty that unite us all. The same values that are at stake in our election.” In Doral, he listened to the mother of Brothers to the Rescue pilot shot down by the Cuban government over the Florida Straits. “Very sad story,” Trump told Miriam de la Pena. And he eagerly repeated criticism of rival Hillary Clinton when longtime Miami Republican donor and activist Remedios Diaz-Oliver declared, “She has never done anything right.” … “It’s just about true,” Trump said. “She’s never done a thing right. Bad judgment.” Trump’s overtures reflected his broader problem two weeks from Election Day: He has yet to consolidate the conservative vote. The more time he spends trying to do so, the less time he’s got to try to persuade independents and moderates who decide general elections.

TRUMP SAYS ITS UP TO VOTERS TO DECIDE WHETHER CAMPAIGN “WAS A WASTE OF TIME, ENERGY AND MONEY via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post — Trump capped a three-day Florida swing Tuesday with an evening rally that drew several thousand supporters in Democratic-leaning Tallahassee. Attorney General Pam Bondi was the only statewide elected Republican to appear at the event, although Gov. Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater all support the presidential nominee. Trump … dismissed polls showing that he was trailing in the polls, with only two weeks before Election Day. But he did use the tactic of warning his supporters that it was up to them to decide whether his campaign — a “movement” he called it — was a “waste of time, energy and money.”

— “Donald Trump promises space, tech jobs for Central Florida” via Steve Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

PAM BONDI TRUMP WILL BE ‘EXCELLENT ROLE MODEL’ via Lloyd Dunkelberger for the Tallahassee Democrat – Although Bondi has condemned Trump‘s lewd remarks about women recorded by an “Access Hollywood” TV crew in 2005, Bondi said she believes Trump will be a good role model for the nation. “I know Donald Trump. I have seen him evolve in the last 14 months,” Bondi said. “I think he will be an excellent role model. I know he has raised wonderful kids. “I know two of his kids personally, Donald and Ivanka. I know he has raised great, hard-working kids.” While talking with reporters … Bondi said Trump would be “an excellent president.” She added: “I hope either candidate would be a good role model.”

TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT FRONT-PAGE EDITORIAL TELLS TRUMP TO ‘TEMPER’ CAMPAIGN WITH ‘HUMILITY’ via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – The Democrat … published a front-page editorial with advice to Trump in advance of his visit later in the day to the capital city: “Your candidacy has inspired a movement; we hope you temper it with humility. The editorial, under the headline “Dear Donald,” also expressed worry about the “harsh rhetoric” from Trump toward journalists. “This has emboldened your supporters to approach press areas at your events and intimidate reporters,” the newspaper said. The Democrat also noted that journalists are members of communities “and humbly recognize the awesome responsibility they bear.” And the newspaper encouraged the Republican presidential candidate to take a lesson in humility and raised fears about the effect on his campaign – and political reactions to it – on future elections. “The result? A political cycle that leaves many of us in a perpetual cringe. An atmosphere in which hate and rancor rule. A climate – particularly in this state capital that is already supercharged politically – where it is far too easy to dismiss roughly half the population with a wave of the hand and a thoughtless label,” the newspaper wrote.


FLORIDA GOP CHAIR BLAISE INGOGLIA SAYS ‘SHADOW’ TRUMP VOTE IN FLORIDA IS REAL via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “Hillary Clinton and the Florida Democratic Party [were] absolutely absent over the last 22 months. They’ve had to hire all of these people over the last two months,” he said, claiming that is exactly the opposite of what the RPOF has been doing. “We had operatives on the ground working in these communities, registering people, ID-ing people, talking to people for the better part of two years; we have paid people and people we have been training for the better part of two years.” Ingoglia’s point is that while the Trump camp may have been slow in developing, the Republican Party of Florida has been harder at work that their Democratic counterparts. “We’re knocking on doors, we’re talking to voters, we’re chasing absentee ballots. We’re doing everything that a campaign should be doing in conjunction with the Trump campaign,” … there have been those who say that there is a “hidden Trump vote,” that isn’t being captured by pollsters. Count Blaise Ingoglia as one Republican who believes in that theory. “That exists — that is real,” Ingoglia insisted. “If you take the number for the people coming out of the presidential preference primary who never voted before, that number was 150,000. So those people are going to be voting in the general election, and the overwhelming majority of them are going to be voting for Donald Trump. If you take into account that general elections bring out a lot more voters, I think that you can expand upon that number.”

CLINTON FLORIDA CAMPAIGN SWING — The Democratic nominee will continue her two-day swing through the Sunshine State on Tuesday with early voting rallies in Palm Beach and Hillsborough counties. She’ll start the day at 11 a.m. at the Elisabeth W. Erling Gymnasium at Palm Beach State College at Lake Worth, 4200 S Congress Ave. Doors open for that event at 9 a.m. Clinton is then scheduled to take the stage around 2:45 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N. Ashley Drive in Tampa, for an early voting rally. Doors open for the Tampa event at 12:15 p.m.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Florida Democrats will be celebrating Clinton’s birthday with a variety of events at early voting locations across the Sunshine State. At 7:30 a.m., there will be a Jacksonville Early Vote Birthday Bash at 2050 University Blvd. N in Jacksonville. RSVP at [email protected]. At 2:30 p.m., there will be a Miami Early Vote Birthday Bash with actor Josh Gad at the Graham Center Lawn, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th St. in Miami. RSVP with [email protected]. And at 5 p.m., there is an Orlando Early Vote Birthday Bash with actor Alfre Woodard, at the Downtown Orlando Recreation Center 363 N. Parramore Avenue in Orlando. RSVP at [email protected].

WELL THIS SOLVES IT – BILL NELSON SAYS CLINTON WILL WIN FLORIDA via Jason Ruiter of the Orlando Sentinel – “I think it’ll be Hillary, plus 5″ percentage points over Trump, Nelson said. The Democratic standard bearer is ahead of Trump by 3 percentage points in Florida, according a CBS News poll released Monday.

— “Angela Bassett campaigns for Hillary Clinton in south St. Pete” via Anne Lindberg of Florida Politics

TRUMP TOOK $17 MILLION IN INSURANCE FOR DAMAGE FEW REMEMBER via Jeff Horwitz and Terry Spencer of the Associated Press — Trump said he received a $17 million insurance payment in 2005 for hurricane damage to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, but The Associated Press found little evidence of such large-scale damage. Two years after a series of storms, the real estate tycoon said he didn’t know how much had been spent on repairs but acknowledged he pocketed some of the money. In a deposition in an unrelated civil lawsuit, Trump said he got the cash from a “very good insurance policy” and cited ongoing work to the historic home. “Landscaping, roofing, walls, painting, leaks, artwork in the — you know, the great tapestries, tiles, Spanish tiles, the beach, the erosion,” he said of the storm damage. “It’s still not what it was.” Trump’s description of extensive damage does not match those of Mar-a-Lago members and even Trump loyalists. … Palm Beach building department records show no permits for construction on that scale after the storms. Permits reflected smaller projects, including installation of new grease traps in the kitchen and tree trimming along the road. The only permits that appeared hurricane-related were for $3,000 in repairs to storm-damaged outdoor lighting and the vacuuming of sand from the property’s beachfront pool.

FLORIDA’S GOP DONORS MIXED ON TRUMP via Will Isern of the Pensacola News-Journal – A USA Today Florida Network analysis shows Republican donors largely shied away from financially supporting Trump and instead gave to down-ballot candidates or special interest groups. Donors who had previously backed Jeb BushMarco Rubio and Mitt Romney in their presidential bids did not fall in line behind Trump, records show. And, for the first time in years, the Florida Democratic Party outraised the Republican Party of Florida in the months leading up to the August primary, signaling GOP donors’ lack of enthusiasm for the party’s nominee. Easily the most visible GOP donor to shy away from Trump was Miami billionaire Mike Fernandez, who made headlines in September when he endorsed Hillary Clinton, after having given $3 million to Bush’s Right to Rise political action committee. But Fernandez wasn’t alone in withholding his support for the GOP nominee. Trump didn’t fare well with Florida industry either. U.S. Sugar Corporation gave $500,000 to Bush’s PAC and $100,000 to Rubio’s, while Florida Crystals Corporations gave $350,000 to Rubio’s PAC. Neither gave to Trump. Juno Beach-based Nextera Energy gave $1 million to Bush’s PAC and $100,000 to Rubio’s, but none to Trump. Trump did pick up support from a few Florida power brokers. St. Petersburg developer, former ambassador, former Republican National Committee finance chairman and board member of Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise PAC Mel Sembler joined Trump’s Trump Victory Committee as a vice chair in May.


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FIREFIGHTERS MAKE PITCH FOR AMENDMENT 1 IN NEW AD — Consumers for Smart Solar released a new advertisement featuring Florida firefighters making the case for the solar power amendment. “In my job, I see a lot of fires that could have been stopped before they were started,” said Wayne Bernoska, Jr, with the Florida Professional Firefighters, in the ad.  “That’s why Florida’s firefighters support Amendment 1. Amendment 1 does solar the right way.  Commonsense safeguards for the health, safety and welfare for Florida’s consumers and its first responders.  Amendment 1 means more solar, safe solar, for the Sunshine State.  Vote yes on Amendment 1 – for the Sun.” The statewide firefighters’ organization is one of more than a dozen groups, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy, backing the amendment. Click the image below to watch the ad.

MORE BALLOTS TURN UP IN BROWARD WITHOUT MEDICAL MARIJUANA AMENDMENT via Amy Sherman of Miami Herald — NORML of Florida, a group that supports reforming marijuana laws, filed a new emergency motion Tuesday night asking the court to hold a rehearing in its lawsuit against Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. The voters “are victims of the respondent’s failure to carry out her constitutional duties and face the prospect of being deprived of the right to vote on matters of great public concern,” attorney Russell Cormican wrote in a new motion. Cormican wrote in an emergency motion filed Tuesday evening that he had heard from two additional voters — Johnny Alexander and Cary Gandolfi, both from Plantation — who had received absentee ballots that lacked the amendment. He heard from those voters after his emergency hearing earlier in the day. Tonya Edwards, a spokeswoman for Snipes, said Tuesday evening that she had not heard about the Plantation voters. She said that her office knew of no additional absentee ballots with the missing amendment beyond the original two in Oakland Park.

CORRINE BROWN’S FRAUD TRIAL MOVED TO LATE APRIL 2017 via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union — Brown’s fraud trial will be delayed until April 26, a federal judge ruled Tuesday after quizzing attorneys about preparations for a court fight that could last a month. The new date is sooner than defense attorneys wanted and later than prosecutors favored, but U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan said it sounded about right for the defense team to wade through tens of thousands of pages of records at the core of the case. “My primary concern is to be sure that the defendants, who are on trial for serious charges, have time to prepare,” he said. Brown’s attorney, James W. Smith III, told Corrigan … that a key part of his defense will involve showing Brown’s good character and how this would have been inconsistent with the way she lived her life. Smith said earlier that Wiley had taken advantage of Brown, and that she had been too busy with her work in Congress to do what she’s accused of. Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Tysen Duva told the judge prosecutors might need 10 to 12 days to present their evidence, and Smith said his defense could last another five to seven days

NEW POLL SHOWS JOHN MICA WITH SOLID LEAD OVER STEPHANIE MURPHY IN CD 7 via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The poll, taken Oct. 20-23 by Cherry Communications, showed Republican Mica had 47 percent among likely voters and Murphy had 42 percent. The gap increased after respondents were read a series of negative comments about both candidates, giving Mica a 49 to 41 advantage. The poll is in sharp contrast to polls done on behalf of Murphy’s campaign in the past couple of weeks, which have shown her with a two- or three-point lead over the 12-term incumbent Mica. “Central Floridians are rejecting this attempt to buy their votes by using extreme scare tactics and advertising that is filled with deception and lies,” Mica campaign spokesman Alan Byrd stated in a news release. “This community knows Mica as the hardest working elected official in the region, as someone who has built this community, focuses on serving his constituents and leads on issues on transportation and veterans. No amount of money can tarnish his record.” The Cherry Communications poll contacted 412 voters with a margin of error of 4.9 percent, which means the lead is actually just a tick bigger than the margin of error.

MURPHY UP WITH NEW TV AD IN CD 7: ‘TIMES CHANGE’ via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The ad begins with staccato shots of a phonograph turning into a cassette player turning into a CD player turning into WalkMan turning into an iPod turning into a smartphone, then old portraits of Mica, as Murphy declares, “Times change, but John Mica went to Washington over 30 years ago.” The ad then hits Mica on three issues — congressional budgets tied to congressional pay, women’s rights and gun law reform. The first issue has been strongly disputed by Mica’s campaign, who’ve said he’s actually sponsored legislation to tie congressional paychecks to whether or not Congress passes budgets. The second two, while Mica’s campaign has argued he’s supported them, nonetheless reflect clear distinctions between Mica’s and Murphy’s policy positions. “In order to change Washington, we need to change the people we send there,” she concludes. The ad ends with Murphy’s son bringing her the cassette player and asking, “What’s this Mommy?” She replies, “Oh, it’s a long story.” Click on the image below to watch the ad.

— “Old-guard money pouring in for John Mica in CD 7” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

— “Val Demings beginning to draw business money in CD 10 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

GEORGE SOROS AMONG THE LATEST DONORS TO CHARLIE CRIST’S CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN via Florida Politics – Among the big names on the donor roll were billionaire Soros, financial author Howard Dvorkin, Diametriq CEO Anjan Ghosal, Sembler Company executive Craig Sher, FSU trustee Kathryn Ballard, and Avram Glazer, whose family owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and controls Manchester United. The money is the first Crist has reported for his CD 13 race since he filed his report covering Aug. 11 through Sept. 30. At the end of last month, Crist had raised about $1.4 million and had about $775,000 of that money on hand.

— “Dwight Dudley, activists slam David Jolly; Jolly’s spokeswoman slams Charlie Crist” via Anne Lindberg of Florida Politics

‘SCANDALS. CORRUPTION. CONVICTIONS’: HOUSE GOP-BACKED SUPER PAC DEBUTS ANTI-JOE GARCIA AD via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald —Democrat Joe Garcia gets a dramatic, black-and-white treatment in a new attack ad by a House Republican super PAC. The ad, to begin airing Tuesday, refers to the convictions of Garcia’s former chief of staff in a pair of campaign-related cases. Paying for the political commercial is Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC backed by the House GOP caucus. It’s spending $1.4 million to try to help Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo hold on to the swing 26th district. The super PAC originally thought its campaign would cost $1.7 million, but the media buy was a bit less costly than expected.) “Joe Garcia has spent more time answering for scandals, corruption, and convictions than standing up for Floridians,” Congressional Leadership Fund spokeswoman Ruth Guerra said in a statement. “Floridians have had enough of Joe Garcia’s schemes. That’s why they’ve rejected him once, and they’ll do it again.” Garcia has repeatedly noted that he was never charged with any wrongdoing. Click on the image below to watch the ad.

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DEMOCRATIC MEGADONOR GEORGE SOROS SPENDING BIG TO TURN OUT FLORIDA PUERTO RICAN VOTE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Billionaire Democratic donor George Soros is funding an effort aimed at mobilizing central Florida’s Puerto Rican voters, an increasingly sought-after slice of the electorate in a region packed with persuadable voters in the country’s biggest battleground state. Much of the work will be done through United for Progress, a new Florida political committee started in September and chaired by Marcos Vilar, a Miami-based political consultant. In October, Soros, who is among the Democrats’ largest donors nationally, gave $200,000, the group’s lone contribution. “United for Progress is educating Floridians about issues of importance to the Puerto Rican community in several jurisdictions around the state,” Vilar said in an email. He did not respond to follow-up questions about the specifics of their operation, but a handful of consultants familiar with the effort say it will revolve around a mail program targeted at specific Central Florida legislative races in seats with large numbers of Puerto Rican voters, who tend to vote Democrat.

SECRETIVE DEMOCRATIC DONORS FLEX POLITICAL MUSCLE IN SOUTH FLORIDA via David Smiley of the Miami Herald – … where years of groundwork have helped create conditions that left several Republican incumbents vulnerable. Through affiliated nonprofits and political committees, the Florida Alliance has spent more than $1 million this summer backing liberal causes and blasting Republicans, particularly those in districts painfully redrawn this year to be more competitive. Nowhere have these efforts been more evident than in Miami-Dade County, home to several of the Alliance’s biggest donors and swing races where its actions could sway the vote. “We want to win. And we want to invest our money in races where we think we can make a difference,” said Terranova Corp. chairman Stephen Bittel, an Alliance member and prominent Democratic donor out of Miami Beach. With little fanfare and heavy support from organized labor, members have spent years building a political network in Florida that runs independent of the party and supports everything from voter registration drives to political campaigns. Much of their operations are based out of “dark money” 501(c)(4) nonprofits, which under tax law can fund political causes without disclosing donors. The system is modeled after the Democracy Alliance, a national group established more than a decade ago to steer and focus donations from wealthy donors like George Soros to specific liberal causes. The group’s secrecy makes it impossible to document all its spending, but … Bittel, Alliance leader Christopher Findlater and affiliated nonprofits Win Florida and Florida Watch Action have given $5.3 million to political campaigns in the last decade.

HOW THE POLITICAL CLOUT OF A CHARTER SCHOOL MEGA-COMPANY COULD BE AT RISK IN FLORIDA via Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald – One of Florida’s largest for-profit charter school management companies, Academica, has long enjoyed considerable influence in the state Legislature. Until last year, two Academica employees served as state lawmakers — and the brother-in-law of the company’s founder also held the education purse strings in the House. The November election puts the company’s clout at risk and, at least potentially, could have broader implications for a booming charter school industry that has claimed a significant share of state taxpayer dollars. Academica runs more than 100 schools in Florida and makes $158 million a year in total revenue from its South Florida schools alone, including $9 million annually in management fees, according to 2011 estimates. It’s a big industry, one that critics say has profited from well-placed political supporters in Tallahassee. For Academica, the biggest loss is Rep. Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican who is outgoing chair of the House education budget subcommittee — term-limited after eight years. He is the brother-in-law of Academica founder and executive Fernando Zulueta and has worked as a consultant for Civica, an architecture firm that specializes in building charter schools. Two other Miami lawmakers with close ties to the company are also facing challengers who could have a shot. Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. … is the chief operating officer of Doral College, a private junior college managed by Academica. He’s facing Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich, a Miami lawyer who says she would prioritize giving state education dollars to traditional public schools. Sen. Anitere Flores … was the president of Doral College until last year … Flores is opposed by Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Pinecrest Democrat who works as a consultant and believes public education dollars should not be allocated to charters managed by for-profit companies.

— “Keith Perry widens money and momentum lead in SD 8 race” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

TEACHER-SENATOR DWIGHT BULLARD GETS BIG DOLLAR BOOST FROM UNIONS via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – The statewide union has donated $825,000 to the campaign committee of Democratic state Sen. Bullard, a public high school social studies teacher who is a member of the local United Teachers of Dade. The incumbent faces Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles in a competitive race, during which his challenger has vastly outspent him. FEA’s donations, which include $550,000 in just the last month, account for about 91 percent of the total contributions Bullard’s Committee for Progressive Leadership has received during this election cycle. FEA has also given another $1,500 directly to Bullard, rather than through his political committee … He got direct donations from other teachers’ unions, as well, including $7,000 from UTD, $2,000 from the United School Employees of Pasco, Inc., $1,000 from the United Faculty of Florida and $1,000 from the United Faculty of Miami Dade College. During FEA’s annual convention in Orlando over the weekend, president Joanne McCall identified Bullard’s race in state Senate District 40 as one of the union’s top priorities.

WRITE-IN DROPS FROM HD 21 via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Write-in candidate Richard Allen Swilley for House District 21 has withdrawn, according to the state Division of Elections. His withdrawal is inconsequential, as Republican Chuck Clemons still faces Democrat Marihelen Wheeler and write-in candidate Ryan Thomas Dyson Nov. 8.

NO ACTION TAKEN IN DAN RAULERSON ‘WITE-OUT’ CASE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Leon County Circuit Judge Charles W. Dodson took no action in a hearing on a case seeking to disqualify state Rep. Raulersonfrom running for re-election to his House District 58 seat. His Democratic opponent, Jose N. Vazquez Figueroa, sued because Raulerson’s notary had incorrectly used “correction fluid” on his filing paperwork. But Vazquez, who is representing himself, didn’t make clear the purpose for the hearing in Tallahassee. He later explained he wanted the judge to rule for him based on the “clear evidence.” Vazquez has said Raulerson’s notary “improperly completed” his paperwork by whiting out the date on her notarization of his financial disclosure, changing it from an April to a June date. He claimed that even if notaries are allowed to change such dates, the state’s notary manual says no “correction fluid” of any kind is allowed to be used. Vazquez sued Raulerson, a two-term Plant City Republican, as well as Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer; Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the state’s chief elections officer; and Kristi Reid Bronson, records bureau chief for the Division of Elections. He blamed all of them for not catching the error and allowing Raulerson to run.

— “Should’ve known better: HD 63 hopeful Lisa Montelione’s illegal yard sign — in her own district” via Florida Politics

— “Nominally opposed NE Florida state House candidates keep fundraising” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics


MaryLynn Magar, running for re-election the Florida House District 82, has been endorsed by NorthPAC, the political arm of the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight job growth during a press conference at 9 a.m. at KLX Aerospace Solutions, 1000 NW 15th Terrace in Doral. Scott will then travel to Jupiter, where he’ll highlight job growth at CTD Holdings, a biotechnology company. He’ll hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. at 210 Military Trail in Jupiter.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Senate President Andy Gardiner will participate in the launch of the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program at 1:30 p.m. at The Exchange, 101. S. Garland Avenue in Orlando.

GREAT READ – EMERGENCY SPINAL SURGERY GIVES LAWMAKER A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON PUBLIC LIFE via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – State Rep. Shevrin Jones didn’t plan to end election season like this. Two weeks ago, his schedule was packed with campaigning for Hillary Clinton and Democrats seeking state office. The rest of his time was spent in meetings ahead of the legislative session or working his day job as a state director for a progressive advocacy organization. Now things are much different. Jones … is recuperating from emergency surgery on his spine. He is under strict orders to limit activities and movement for the next two months. He has a walker and a wheelchair to get around. “The only time I leave the house is to go to my doctor appointments or physical therapy,” he said last week. Jones was elected without opposition to a third term in office, but had remained in campaign mode until the back injury sidelined him. It hasn’t been easy making the transition from active participant to bystander with Election Day around the corner. Jones has always been active on social media. But he thought twice about interrupting his normally upbeat posts about speaking engagements, awards and jet setting to talk about the health issues that began when he tweaked his back while working out at a gym. He decided his 5,000 Facebook friends and 3,443 Instagram followers deserved to know his struggles, too. The posts have been poignant. Jones … wanted to inspire others by being open about his injury and rehabilitation. He is doing that by letting down his guard so that people see him as a human being and not just a politician.

DAVID ALTMAIER OUTLINES LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES AT INSURANCE CONFERENCE via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Florida Insurance Commissioner Altmaier outlined his legislative priorities Tuesday during an industry conference, promising above all to work with industry stakeholders in drafting responses to market pressures. As for the coming legislative session, abuse of assignment of benefits contracts is “one of our highest priorities,” Altmaier said. “We are going to make a very, very hard effort to look at ways that we can go in surgically to the assignment of benefits mechanism and look at ways we can tweak the way that system is being abused to the detriment of consumers and the insurance companies.” Also on his agenda is regulation of an HMO sector struggling to adapt to the Affordable Care Act. Rate increases in the long-term care marketplace represent “a significant strain on federal programs” as well as consumers on fixed incomes, Altmaier said. “The message I want to deliver to you … is that as we move forward in developing those initiatives, we are excited to engage with you, to have conversations with you about the goals we’re trying to achieve,” said Altmaier.

ANITERE FLORES: INSURANCE COMMISSIONER SHOULD BE ELECTED via Florida Politics – Flores … issued a statement … She referred to current “discontent” with the Office of Insurance Regulation. Over the last year, GOP lawmakers have unsuccessfully pushed to return other officers to elected positions from appointed, including education commissioner and secretary of state. Those positions were made appointed in the state constitution after recommendations by the 1997-98 Constitution Revision Commission. The Florida Cabinet shrank from six members to the current three: the attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner. It merged the cabinet offices of treasurer and comptroller into a then-new CFO. The secretary of state and commissioner of education, which had been elected, now are appointed. Flores said she would make the insurance commissioner elected through a statutory change, however … Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier appeared unperturbed. “The process we have now works very well. If there’s people who want to explore doing it differently, I’m certainly open to it,” he said.

FLOOD INSURANCE CHIEF CONCEDES HIS PROGRAM FAILED TO PUT CUSTOMERS FIRST via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – “If you want to know where the National Flood Insurance Program has stumbled, it’s when we no longer put the customer first,” said Roy Wright, deputy associate administrator for insurance and mitigation at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “At some point, the program focused on the companies; it focused on what it means to provide a product and sustain it. But it lost track of the 5.1 million policyholders we’re here to serve.” Wright spoke during the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s biannual industry conference in Tallahassee. Regarding recent storms that caused damage in Florida, Wright said: “I want to assure you that the National Flood Insurance Program and our partner companies are on the ground, doing the work, both related to Hermine and Matthew. And assisting the survivors who had flood coverage through the process.”

ARE OPTOMETRISTS GOING BACK ON THEIR WORD IN ‘EYEBALL WAR’ TRUCE? via Florida Politics – While March’s legislative session is still a few months away, it seems the Eyeball Wars may be coming back to Tallahassee … the Florida Optometric Association and associated organizations have geared up for battle with more than $2.1 million donated to committees and candidates statewide. OD-EYEPAC, the political arm of the Florida Optometric Association, gave more than $1.1 million to committees and candidates through the end of July. The Florida Optometric Association gave $535,000; the Florida Optometric Eye Health Care Fund gave $260,000. Recipients of this largesse at the time included $125,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and $10,000 to the Florida Democratic Party. Other committees received more than $1.1 million. With that amount of money being spent on campaigns, it’s easy to see the optometrists are looking to make a move this legislative session. The next likely step? Optometrists want to perform surgery. Movements such as this require a thorough explanation as to why ophthalmologists will be forced — once again — to mount a new offensive and possible return of the Eyeball Wars. By falsely claiming patients have limited access to ophthalmologists, patient safety is jeopardized. Among Florida’s 20 million residents, only a small percentage — 22,660 people in all — live more than 40 miles from an ophthalmologist.

DRIVERS AND TAX COLLECTORS ‘LIVID’ OVER REPEATED SYSTEM CRASHES via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times –  Irate Florida tax collectors say they are being forced to turn away thousands of customers because of repeated breakdowns in the state database that stores records of millions of driver’s licenses and car and truck registrations. “Our customers are livid,” Hillsborough Tax Collector Doug Belden wrote in an email … “There appears to be a major problem.” His chief IT expert, Kirk Sexton, described the breakdowns as “severe” and wrote in a memo that the glitches also affect law enforcement’s ability to run checks on motorists. “Totally unacceptable,” Manatee County Tax Collector Ken Burton wrote in an email. He said his front-line staff members who deal with customers report a problem every 3.7 days between April 1 and Sept. 30 of this year. It’s not new. The creaky database has been plagued by problems for years, and the Legislature has appropriated money to modernize it. But the crashes continue and they’re driving tax collectors crazy. Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano holds Saturday office hours, but said he had to turn away more than 1,000 customers because the system was down. “It’s just constant,” said Fasano, who in a letter to the state cited the “frequency and duration” of system breakdowns. In his frustration, Fasano says he’s seriously thinking of telling disgruntled customers to send a note to Gov. Scott until the problems are fixed.

NON-PROFITS REBUT CORRECTIONS’ ACCUSATIONS ON RE-ENTRY PROGRAMS via Florida Politics – An Orlando-based nonprofit says the state’s Department of Corrections is wrongly trying to discredit a POLITICO Florida report showing that it “misled” the public about shutting down community based re-entry centers. Bridges of America, one of several outside organizations helping ex-cons and others, also said DOC “continues to fail to address that they don’t have the authority to bypass the same lawmakers they are now trying to mislead, again.” The department is pulling the plug on programs nonprofits run in Broward and Orange counties offering counseling, drug treatment, and other services to inmates returning to society. Corrections previously announced a new program called Spectrum, which will offer many of the same services Bridges provides, but inside the state’s prisons.

UF BACKING OUT OF SANFORD BURNHAM DEAL via Naseem Miller of the Orlando Sentinel – The much-debated plan for the University of Florida to take over operations of Sanford Burnham in Orlando’s medical city is off, UF officials confirmed Tuesday. “The University of Florida is willing to discuss how it can be helpful to the state in a manner that makes sense for all parties. … However, it is unclear how UF can help in a timely manner, given the likely need for legislative approval. As such, UF is unable to proceed at this time,” UF officials said in a statement. Sources close to the matter said that the university is backing out partly because it hasn’t received support from key stakeholders, including the state, Orange County and Orlando. That means Sanford Burnham officials in California may have to find a new solution for taking the Lake Nona operations off their books.

ANDREW ROSEN SCHEDULED TO BE FEATURED SPEAKER AT SAYFIE SUMMIT — The Sayfie Review Florida Leaders Summit announced that Rosen, the CEO of Kaplan, will be a featured speaker during the annual summit Rosen is expected to discuss education and “the .megatrends that are disrupting our education system.” Rosen is the author of “ Rebooting for the new talent economy,” which details the history of innovation in American higher education and lays out a prescription for restoring its pre-eminence by focusing anew on the goals of learning outcomes, access, affordability, and accountability. The summit is scheduled for Nov.17 and Nov. 18 in Orlando.


Teresa Golden: Florida Policy Institute

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Dan Dawson and truck driver Mark Puente.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

One comment

  • Darrell Keith

    October 26, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    I don’t put too much faith in Rubio’s flimsy argument against the plan to purchase 60,000 acres of land south of Lake Okeechobee. I would like him to show support for the farmers in the EAA who would lose their land if Joe Negron’s plan for the purchase becomes a reality. But at least – so far – Rubio is not endorsing the plan. We need people in Congress and Florida legislators who have real empathy for the Floridians who will be hurt if their land is taken from them.

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