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If sports scores are any predictor of political success, Republicans may have an even better Midterm cycle this year than expected. Red jerseys were the only ones to slide home at the annual Congressional Baseball Game on Thursday evening, where Republicans shut out Democrats 10-0.
A rain delay and the protests of left-wing activists did nothing to dampen the dominance of the Grand Old Party on the baseball diamond. This marked a back-to-back win at Nationals Park for the Republicans.
While no Democrats from Florida took the field this year, the Republican team had two members from the Sunshine State. Both Reps. Kat Cammack, a Gainesville Republican, and Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican, rejoined the red roster.
Steube tweeted “shutout” about the game itself, one where he pitched for the second consecutive year. He also spoke ahead of the game about protests planned by environmental groups intent on disrupting the competition.
“It’s really sad that one of the very few bipartisan things in this city, playing America’s game in a bipartisan manner, is going to be protested because they don’t think we’re going to be spending enough money on climate change and shutting down our economy,” Steube told Fox News before the game. “Hopefully, it won’t disrupt the game in any way.”
Metropolitan Police D.C. arrested protesters engaged in a sit-in at one of the park’s entrances chanting “declare a climate emergency.”
The event raised $1.7 million for 35 charity events.
This year’s game proved to be a blowout compared to the 13-12 victory Republicans enjoyed in 2021, carried to victory by Steube’s home run.
Cammack also spoke to Fox News ahead of the game and said she’s happy to play each year. “It’s fantastic to, No. 1, build these relationships, that camaraderie with your colleagues. It is truly the best way to build relationships, and this entire congressional experience is all about relationships,” she said. “Plus, when you are playing for a guy like (Texas Rep. and GOP Coach) Roger Williams, who is so passionate about it, it’s just infectious.”
She ran in one of the runs for the GOP this game and posted a meme on Twitter playfully suggesting her caucus could have more wins ahead. With a picture of her charging into the home plate, “The Red Wave” appears on Cammack in the photo, while the catcher is captioned “Democratic Leadership.”
“103 days,” tweeted Cammack, detailing the time between game day on the November Midterms, where analysts also predict a blowout.
Cuban politics long reached into Florida politics, but Sen. Marco Rubio said the world needs to start paying attention. In a Spanish-language interview with Buenos Días Americano, Florida’s senior Senator stressed that the past year brought an emigration event on par with the Mariel boatlift.
“In this year, 2022, more than 1% of the Cuban population has left the country. 160,000 Cubans have left the country in the last seven months,” Rubio said in Spanish. “That is more than during Mariel. It is what we are seeing, and that is something that the regime used in the past to blackmail Democratic Presidents in terms of the border.”
He suggested the motion has come as the existing communist government on the island struggles with the pandemic and the economic challenges in the modern world. “There is a total incompetence on the part of the regime in terms of managing that economy,” Rubio said. “And we see a people that (are) desperate, with blackouts, with hunger, with diseases.”
The Mariel boatlift in 1980 saw 125,000 Cubans migrate to Florida during the last year of President Jimmy Carter’s administration. Within a few years, President Ronald Reagan’s administration granted citizenship to most of the refugees.
Now, many are coming to Cuba through the Southwest border by land, and Rubio wants strict enforcement of immigration laws.
“Here, we simply have to enforce the law,” Rubio said. “This is a country that has always welcomed migrants, but we have laws, and they have to be enforced. We have always welcomed legal immigrants like my parents, as are many of those who are listening. What we have today, for not enforcing our laws, is that we have a border controlled by the cartels and by these drug traffickers and human trafficking gangs.”
Proactive on poverty
Orlando Democrat Val Demings this week presented hefty checks to Central Florida communities. That includes delivering $665,000 for wastewater infrastructure in Eatonville and $300,000 for Orange County’s homeless youth.
The funding comes from community project funding sponsored by Demings. Notably, the homeless program will be managed by the Orange County government, which means it will be overseen by her husband, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
“Orange County has a real housing crisis, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Demings said. “With over 6,000 homeless students in Orange County Public Schools, we need to look at new interventions to prevent homelessness experienced by children and families. I am grateful for Congresswoman Demings’ advocacy on this critical issue in our community and her support of the funding request by Orange County to launch a youth homelessness prevention program. The project will have a true, positive impact on the community we serve.”
Neither the Congresswoman nor Mayor overtly mentioned their relationship in statements. The moment won’t personally enrich either and will be used for a pilot program dubbed “Upstream Model,” which will provide counseling support for K-12 students at risk of poverty or homelessness.
Rep. Demings stressed her humble background, with a bio often cited in her ongoing Senate campaign.
“I grew up the daughter of a maid and a janitor, and while my parents had to work hard every day, we made ends meet and I was able to get a great public-school education,” she said. “But not every child is so fortunate, which is why I worked with Orange County to make sure that every child in our community, no matter their family circumstances, should have a fair chance to go to school and not be left behind. This program will help at-risk youth facing homelessness, mental health challenges, and other quality of life issues to prosper.”
While offshore oil drilling is still off limits to Florida Republicans, delegation members increasingly have embraced calls for deregulating energy elsewhere in the country. Sen. Rick Scott spoke at the America First Policy Institute Policy Summit this week on the need to “unleash American energy.”
He sat beside an old friendly rival, former Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Scott served as Governor for a period that overlapped with Perry’s tenure as Texas Governor. Both Republicans prioritized economic development at the time and competed for the title of most business-friendly state.
Now, Scott wants to boost jobs in a sector Perry knows well. He has filed the Free American Energy Act and the GAS PRICE Act, respectively, attempts to allow more oil exploration on federal lands and require any action by the Energy Information Administration that could raise fuel costs to be reported to Congress.
One of the nation’s top election prognosticators shifted three Florida races to safe Republican seats this election cycle. If the prediction holds true, two of those are gains for the GOP in the U.S. House.
Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved Florida’s 4th, 7th and 28th Congressional Districts into its “Safe Republican” column. The model previously listed the seats as “Likely Republican,” thanks to an absence of any incumbent and changes brought about by a new congressional map.
That’s good news for U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, a Miami Republican first elected in 2020 when he defeated Democratic incumbent Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. While the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spotlighted the seat as a front-line race, the political environment right now doesn’t offer reason for Giménez to worry, according to the Crystal Ball team.
Like all the Florida races shifted in this week’s forecast update, Giménez represents a seat where Donald Trump won the 2020 Presidential Election.
“We’re moving several Trump-won seats that Democrats do not appear to have the bandwidth to compete for this cycle from Likely Republican to Safe Republican: the open seats FL-4 and FL-7, as well as the seats held by Reps. Carlos Giménez (R, FL-28) and Bryan Steil (R, WI-1),” wrote editor Kyle Kondik.
A shift in Florida’s new congressional map already placed the seats in jeopardy for the other Florida races.
CD 7, represented now by Democrat Stephanie Murphy, was altered from a seat where Democrat Joe Biden won the Presidential Election by 10 percentage points to one Trump would have taken by more than 4. Before the redistricting process even wrapped, Murphy announced she would not seek re-election this year. Eight Republicans qualified to run in the newly reconfigured district. So did four Democrats, but as of the second quarter, every Republican candidate raised more than the top Democrat in the race.
As for CD 4, the new map at Gov. Ron DeSantis’ demand eliminated a north Florida Black access seat represented now by Democrat Al Lawson and left CD 4 covering west Jacksonville but also including conservative Nassau County. Lawson, based in Tallahassee, elected to run against Republican incumbent Neal Dunn in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. About 52.6% of voters in the new CD 4 voted for Trump, and 45.92% went for Biden, so the seat leans red even in neutral conditions.
Lawson said the state of Florida could put federal funding at risk that funds a program assisting the poor with job skills.
The Tallahassee Democrat led a letter signed by every Democrat in Florida’s congressional delegation to Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Department of Children and Families asking why the state put itself at risk of losing funding from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s Employment and Training offerings.
“It is disheartening that DeSantis and DCF are jeopardizing thousands of Floridians from having access to necessary state resources that can provide economic stability, improve their living conditions, and address nutrition barriers,” Lawson said. “State officials must quickly rectify this non-compliance issue before some of Florida’s most vulnerable residents have to suffer from their negligence.”
The problem, his office said, is that the DCF has been out of compliance with federal requirements and guidelines since June 2021 and refuses to remedy the issue despite the Agriculture Department offering technical aid. The agency has until Aug. 24 to bring the program into compliance. The state acts as a conduit for much of the funding, which then supports workforce development boards like CareerSource and Second Harvest Food Banks which process benefits for Floridians.
But as the state shifts efforts from addressing crises to prevention mode, the program has withered. Lawson said that’s unacceptable, while 240,000 still rely on SNAP E&T benefits and programming.
“Our State is facing a hunger crisis and an affordability crisis therefore, it is concerning that the State is unable to keep its E&T program in compliance with federal regulations contradicting their goal of having their recipients reach economic independence,” he said.
This week, federal procurement processes became a significant point in a Republican congressional Primary. Republican James Judge posted a video suggesting Jerry Torres, a longtime defense contractor, bailed on a 2010 federal hearing. But Torres says the video is misleading as he testified on a rescheduled date.
But the subject of the video also included intense criticism of Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions.
At the hearing for the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq & Afghanistan, Michael Thibault, former director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, publicly chastised Torres, then CEO of Torres AES.
“This commission was going to ask him under oath why his firm agreed in January to assume private security at forward operating base Shield with several hundred guards that had not been properly vetted and approved,” Thibault said.
Torres spoke on July 26, and his testimony is still available to watch in C-SPAN archives. He also pushed back at characterizations of the work done by Torres AES in Iraq.
Going back to the original meeting, Thibault related Torres had personally flown to Iraq to try and pressure command at the base to use his staff even though they were unqualified to supply needed security and another contractor had already been contacted about the work.
Despite this, Torres AES landed several more contracts, which were awarded based on the lowest bids and unrelated to past performance, something the Commission heavily criticized.
“We have a major issue that needs to be addressed, and our primary witness has hunkered down in the rocks,” Thibault said of Torres.
“Jerry Torres has demonstrated he doesn’t care about national security, and he doesn’t care about the safety and security of our men and women in uniform,” Judge said. “This video clearly shows that Torres put American military personnel in harm’s way when he was charged with protecting them, just so he could get paid.”
Torres, though, said he agreed with Commission recommendations to bid contracts with quality as critical criteria, not just cost. And he said all of the contracts with the military in Iraq and Afghanistan were awarded with that in mind.
“Those were not low-bid contracts,” Torres said. “They were based on past performance.” And Torres AES landed a lot of them, about 40 different service contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Moreover, Torres said he personally lobbied Congress to ensure more contracts go out based on performance instead of just the lowest bids.
To watch the CSPAN clip, click on the image below:
This week, legislation aimed at hackers and penned by Palm Harbor Republican Gus Bilirakis passed in the House. The Reporting Attacks from Nations Selected for Oversight and Monitoring Web Attacks and Ransomware from Enemies (RANSOMWARE) Act (HR 4551) has now been received by the Senate for consideration.
The legislation would update the nation’s cybersecurity laws and strengthen the response to ransomware threats from overseas, specifically in China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. That includes enabling more partnerships with law enforcement in allied countries to help with adversarial threats. The Federal Trade Commission will report updates to Congress on cross-border complaints about the aggressive digital attacks.
“We have seen an increase in cybercrimes against Americans,” Bilirakis said. “These incidents underscore the importance of fortifying and modernizing our critical infrastructure to prevent and respond to cyberattacks. This is a matter of national security, and we must do everything we can to protect all Americans from those who wish to do us harm.”
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s former intern has grown wings, to become White House’s new liaison to the Jewish community.
Shelley Greenspan will take over the position from Chanan Weissman, the Jewish Insider reported.
Greenspan, a University of Florida graduate, met Wasserman Schultz at UF Hillel during her first year.
The Miami native started her career on the legislative team of the America Israel Political Action Committee. Most recently, she worked at the U.S. State Department as a civil servant.
Wasserman Schultz tweeted her enthusiasm for the appointment Wednesday. She knew her back when.
“Early on, I saw Shelley Greenspan’s amazing interpersonal and political skills, which are essential to build and solidify relationships with the U.S. Jewish community, especially amid rising antisemitism,” she tweeted. “I applaud President Biden for a continued commitment to the Jewish community.”
On this day
July 29, 1958 — “Dwight Eisenhower signs NASA into existence” via NASA — Although NASA is best known for 60 years of engineering and scientific achievements, it originally came into being as a matter of national security. After the Soviets flew the first two Sputniks in 1957 and Sputnik 3 in 1958, the U.S. government saw space as an important new political, if not military, battlefield and began to lay the course for a long-term space plan. Scientists pushed President Eisenhower to make any new agency charged with overseeing space exploration a civilian agency, fearing military control would mean research only into military priorities. Eisenhower signed a bill that set eight goals for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
July 29, 1905 — “William Howard Taft reaches agreement with Japan on Korea” via Dokdo Takeshima — Japan’s Count Katsura Tarō met with Secretary of War (later President) Taft to resolve grievances between the two countries. Japan agreed to accept the U.S. presence in Hawaii and the Philippines, and in exchange, America agreed to give Japan a free hand in Korea; Taft remarked to the effect that, in his opinion, the establishment by Japanese troops of a suzerainty over Korea to the extent of requiring Korea to enter into no foreign treaties without the consent of Japan was a logical result of the present war and would directly contribute to permanent peace in the East.
Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles, edited and assembled by Phil Ammann and Ryan Nicol, with contributions by Anne Geggis.