Delegation for 11.4.22: Seeing red — Canadian drugs — a little help — keeping tabs

capitol u.s. green 9.30.19
Is the red wave gaining steam?

Seeing red

Election prognosticators increasingly foresee a strong showing by Republicans, with a red wave potentially large enough to take control of both the House and Senate.

The big election forecasters all now see Florida’s Senate contest in play but with Sen. Marco Rubio increasingly favored to win.

Rubio, seeking a third term, started polling above 50% in recent weeks, according to the RealClearPolitics polling index. But even when he fell short of a majority, he consistently led Democratic challenger Val Demings by an average of 7.5 percentage points.

A last-minute surge and Marco Rubio has the advantage.

Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball have the race in their Likely Republican columns. FiveThirtyEight, while calling ultimate control of the Senate a tossup between Democrats and Republicans nationwide, gives Rubio a 94% chance of winning based on its data-driven simulations.

In the House, predictions appear more bullish for the GOP.

Sabato has four Florida races listed as competitive — and it’s not the ones many predicted in the summer. The University of Virginia-run site grabbed the attention of Florida observers when it shifted Florida’s 23rd Congressional District from its Safe Democratic to Likely Democratic roster, a downgrade. Granted, that still means analysts expect Democrat Jared Moskowitz to succeed retired Rep. Ted Deutch and to defeat Republican Joe Budd, but in a district Joe Biden won with 58% of the vote, the race normally should not be in play at all.

Meanwhile, the Sabato team has written off Democrats’ chance of holding the redrawn Florida’s 4th Congressional District, where Republican Aaron Bean faces Democrat L.J. Holloway. Incumbent Rep. Al Lawson elected not to run in this seat and to instead challenge GOP Rep. Neal Dunn in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, but that race isn’t on the charts either. Sabato also sees a safe flip to red for Florida’s 7th Congressional District, where Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy chose not to run. In that race, Republican Cory Mills appears poised to trounce Democrat Karen Green.

The forecaster has eyes on Florida’s 27th Congressional District, where Republican Rep. María Elvira Salazar faces Democrat Annette Taddeo, as well as open races in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, where Republican Anna Paulina Luna battles Democrat Eric Lynn, and Florida’s 15th Congressional District, where Republican Laurel Lee engages Democrat Alan Cohn. But all three contests now sit in the Likely Republican column.

Cook sees more trouble for Salazar but still puts CD 27 in a Lean Republican column. Both CD 13 and CD 15, by comparison, rank as the Likely Republican contests. No Florida races are still in Cook’s list of toss-ups. Unlike Sabato, the Cook team doesn’t see CD 23 as in play and predicts Democrats will easily hold the seat. But Cook also long ago took CD 2 and 7 off its charts and put them into a pile of safe Republican seats.

At FiveThirtyEight, analysts give an 85% chance Republicans take control of the House in the Midterms. Simulations there only view three races as anything but solid Republican or Democrat. Like Sabato, the data junkies view CD 23 in play but give Moskowitz a 94% chance of victory. They give the same odds to Luna in CD 13, representing a blue-to-red flip. The most competitive race on the FiveThirtyEight map is CD 27, but even there, the models give Salazar a 91% chance at re-election.

RealClearPolitics (RCP), meanwhile, keeps an index running on 10 Florida districts in its potentially competitive contest, and none of those are considered toss-ups. But it only has one race in its “Lean” column. Again, as it turns out, CD 23 makes an appearance, with the Moskowitz-Budd contest ranked as Florida’s most competitive.

Besides that race, the RCP index lists Likely Democratic contests with Florida’s 9th Congressional District, where Rep. Darren Soto faces Republican Scotty Moore; Florida’s 14th Congressional District, where Rep. Kathy Castor combats Republican James Judge, and Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, where Rep. Lois Frankel contends with Republican Dan Franzese. The outfit predicts Mills and Luna will likely flip CD 7 and 13, respectively, and Bean and Lee to win CD 4 and CD 15. It also has Salazar’s CD 27 contest in its Likely Republican list, while Florida’s 28th Congressional District makes an appearance, with Rep. Carlos Giménez favored to beat Democrat Robert Asencio.

Canadian pharma

Florida has already set up a Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program within the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration. Now Rubio wants to know what’s taking so long for the Food and Drug Administration to approve an application and start importing prescriptions.

The Miami Republican penned a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf asking for an update on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ application to the federal agency. House Republicans Gus Bilirakis, Mario Díaz-Balart, Neal Dunn, Brian Mast and John Rutherford all signed onto the message.

Marco Rubio calls for more cooperation with Canada on prescription drugs.

“If the Biden administration is serious about lowering the cost of prescription drugs, then the FDA must do its job and follow through with the State of Florida’s drug importation plan,” the legislators wrote.

The prodding is the latest attempt to accelerate a process first conceptualized before the pandemic. In 2019, the Legislature approved Florida’s Prescription Drug Importation Program, fulfilling a promise in DeSantis’ first State of the State message.

Upon submitting the concept paper to the Department of Health and Human Services, DeSantis announced “our state is one step closer to realizing true cost savings on safe, high-quality prescription drugs from Canada.”

Administration assist

President Joe Biden made his way to South Florida this week to support Demings’ Senate campaign and former Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist’s effort to unseat DeSantis.

“Folks, imagine Chief Demings on the beat in the United States Senate,” Biden said as he pumped up a Democratic crowd. “I can hardly wait. They ain’t seen nothing yet. They haven’t seen nothing yet. Oh, man, you got a hell of a delegation.”

Joe Biden hits Florida for a last-minute assist.

He also specifically noted $16 million in infrastructure sent to the Port of Miami, funding Demings voted for in the House but Rubio opposed in the Senate. He also criticized DeSantis for frequently taking credit for federal dollars coming through the state despite the Governor criticizing the spending when it was budgeted.

Of note, other high-profile members of the administration managed to make it to Florida as part of Demings-led events in the past month. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg held an infrastructure roundtable with Demings at the Orlando International Airport, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge last week held a similar event with Demings in Orlando to discuss affordable housing.

“We’re fighting to bring down housing costs and help Florida families keep roofs over their heads,” Demings said. “I have led efforts to address Florida’s alarming housing crisis, including the ongoing property insurance crisis which has been aggravated by natural disasters like Hurricane Ian. Working families in Florida are struggling to make rent and mortgage payments and this is placing the American Dream further and further out of reach.”

Aid audit

Sen. Rick Scott made clear he doesn’t trust Biden to ensure hurricane assistance goes to help the Cuban people instead of a corrupt government. He wrote a letter to United States Agency for International Development Acting Deputy Inspector General Nicole Angarella urging oversight on $2 million in assistance for victims of Hurricane Ian.

“It is your duty to monitor all of the agency’s actions, ensure its full compliance with the law and, importantly, demand and secure accountability to U.S. taxpayers for all monies spent by the agency,” Scott wrote. “I write to urge vigorous and timely oversight of the distribution of these funds and ensure every cent of American taxpayer money goes solely and directly to the courageous Cuban people, not the illegitimate communist Cuban regime.”

Rick Scott urges Nicole Angarella to be transparent on Cuban hurricane aid.

He pointed to a State Department report from 2021 that outlined a litany of human rights abuses by the communist Cuban government, but said Biden has still done too little to help the people even amid pro-democracy protests.

“While the brave Cuban people continue to demand freedom and democracy, President Biden has shown that he is happy to ease sanctions on the regime and ignore the cries of ‘Patria y Vida’ coming from Cubans both here in America, and on the island,” Scott wrote.

“That is why we must ensure these millions in American taxpayer dollars will not be used to prop up this savage, illegitimate communist Cuban regime and facilitate its continued repression. It is imperative that your office guarantees rules are followed with robust oversight and all funds be distributed exclusively to benefit the Cuban people.”

Scott made clear he wants the Cuban people helped but said USAID must audit every dollar in foreign aid that goes to the country. “It is imperative that not one penny from the American taxpayer go toward benefiting the murderous Cuban Communist regime,” he wrote.

Purple heart

A Lawtey veteran in his 90s this week received a series of medals earned through his service in the Korean War. Gainesville Republican Kat Cammack presented James Lewis Wilkerson with Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with four bronze stars, the combat infantryman badge and the United Nations Service Medal.

The 93-year-old Wilkerson was injured on duty in August 1951 and released from service two years later. The combat injuries earned him the Purple Heart.

Kat Cammack honors true American heroes.

Cammack’s office helped the veteran navigate the bureaucracy of recovering the medals.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to present Mr. Wilkerson with the medals he earned during his distinguished service in the Forgotten War in Korea,” Cammack said. “He earned each and every one of his distinctions and I’m so proud that our office could help him and his family recover his service medals after all these years. Our team works hard on behalf of our heroes and I’m grateful for their work to make this long overdue ceremony possible.”

Wilkerson at the ceremony said when he served he simply had a job to do. “We came back. A lot of them didn’t come back,” he said. “I feel honored.”

Braving the border

Palm Harbor Republican Bilirakis led a delegation of Florida law enforcement leaders to the Mexican border in Arizona. There, officials met with the Drug Enforcement Agency, Customs and Border Protection Services and Border Patrol agents about the smuggling of fentanyl into the country.

“From speaking with those on the front lines at the border, it is clear that the crisis is worsening by the day and that our brave men and women who are trying to keep our country safe have not been given the manpower, equipment and other resources needed to do their jobs effectively,” Bilirakis said.

Gus Bilirakis heads to the border.

Traveling with Bilirakis were Hernando County Sheriff Al Neinhuis, Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper, Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast and representatives of the Citrus County and Pasco County Sheriff’s Offices.

Bilirakis used the sojourn as a platform to promote the Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act (HR 6184), which would budget more resources for overwhelmed officials at the border.

“The dangerous situation at the border has enriched and emboldened criminal cartels and fueled record fentanyl overdoses throughout the country,” he said.

“As part of our commitment to ensuring a country that is safe, we must first properly fund all levels of law enforcement. Congress must also pass the HALT Fentanyl Act to ensure fentanyl and its related analogues are permanently listed as a Schedule 1 substance. In addition to stopping the supply for these illegal substances, we must also provide resources to reduce the demand side of the equation — focusing on education, prevention and ensuring access to quality behavioral health treatment. It is obvious that the drugs trafficked through do not remain in border states.”

He warned the drugs moving across the border make their way to states like Florida and fuel an ongoing opioid epidemic.

Eyes on CD 15

Kissimmee Democrat Darren Soto walked the streets of Tampa Bay in support of Democratic candidate Alan Cohn’s bid for Congress in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. The pair of Democrats canvassed over hours in Tampa Terrace in the latest effort by members of Florida’s House Delegation to lift their candidate in a new and closely divided seat.

Lakeland Republican Scott Franklin provided his endorsement of Republican candidate Laurel Lee, an especially valuable voice considering much of the new CD 15 in Polk County comes from Franklin’s old district. She also shared pictures of a Tampa fundraiser where House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy raised dollars. Earlier this year, Longboat Key Republican Vern Buchanan held a fundraiser at his home for Lee and other Republicans seeking to flip seats from blue to red.

Darren Soto hits the campaign trail for Alan Cohn.

Cohn has launched his bid with important endorsements from Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor, whose old district included much of the new CD 15 as well, along with Florida congressional delegation co-Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Tax cut momentum

Ways and Means Republicans held a roundtable this week on what tax policy may look like in the House under a GOP majority. Proposed legislation from Longboat Key Republican Buchanan to make Donald Trump-era tax cuts permanent served as a key point of discussion.

“Republicans delivered the most comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax code in more than three decades and helped our country achieve historic economic growth. We delivered significant tax relief for low and middle-income families and small businesses across all income levels,” Buchanan said at the event. “Today, as we look forward to the strong probability of an upcoming recession, there is new urgency to preserve these pro-growth policies.”

Vern Buchanan looks into the crystal ball for a glimpse of taxes under a GOP House.

Reynolds Services CEO John Frangakis also spoke in favor of the bill, saying allowing the tax cuts to expire could prove damaging to the economy. “We are very concerned about the effects of raising taxes, or even letting provisions of this act dwindle or expire could have, not only on our market, but on the economy in general,” Frangakis said.

Since introducing a bill this year, Buchanan has seen 70 Representatives sign on as co-sponsors, but the bill’s future likely lies in the next Congress. If Republicans win a majority in the Nov. 8 Midterms, as virtually all polls indicate will happen, Buchanan is the apparent front-runner to Chair the House Ways and Means Committee. That means his bill will be a priority to pass out of the House.

Continued recovery

Naples Republican Byron Donalds continues to split time between politics and hurricane recovery. He held a business roundtable in Fort Myers Beach, a tourist destination devastated when Hurricane Ian made landfall at Cayo Costa on Sept. 28.

At the event, the Congressman discussed debris removal and revolving loans. Many business owners who have to rebuild structures, and must do so under new codes and not being grandfathered in, find themselves having to raise buildings above ground level or fortify them with concrete. But Donalds stressed that there is a reason for much of that, vividly illustrated by how many older structures were destroyed by storm surge.

Byron Donalds burns the candle at both ends.

“The good side of Florida building code is we’ve seen, even through this disaster, newly constructed or relatively newly constructed property has actually survived,” he stressed.

Donalds has held a variety of town halls dealing with Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance on property damage, commercial support for businesses and cooperation between state, federal and local government on the storm’s aftermath.

Sharing a border, miles apart

The districts represented by Stuart Republican Mast and West Palm Beach Democrat Frankel might share a border in Palm Beach County, but the two couldn’t be further apart in reacting to Biden’s pre-election speech Wednesday night when he warned about political violence and how democracy is on the ballot.

“Joe Biden is right,” Frankel tweeted. “Democracy is on the ballot. Stand up for it by voting early through Sunday, Nov. 6, or dropping your mail-in ballot or voting on Election Day Tuesday.”

Joe Biden’s speech does not resonate with Brian Mast.

But the speech couldn’t have landed any worse than Mast.

“Last night’s speech showed just how out of touch Joe Biden is,” Mast tweeted. “He made no mention of the issues that matter to Floridians and all Americans: inflation that’s eating away paychecks, crime that’s wrecking communities and a wide-open border that’s impacting every state.”

Fighting for firefighters

Miami Republican Giménez, a former first responder himself, wants more federal resources helping local firehouses. He introduced the bipartisan Fire Grants and Safety Act with Pennsylvania Republican Brian Fitzpatrick, Maine Democrat Jared Golden and Michigan Democrat Dan Kildee.

“As a former firefighter and Chief of the City of Miami Fire Rescue Department, I know firsthand how crucial these vital programs and resources are to adequately prepare firefighters to respond to emergencies and protect our communities,” Giménez. “In the past, both Monroe County and Miami-Dade County have benefited immensely from such initiatives. In Congress, it is our responsibility to support firemen as they make every effort to keep communities in South Florida and across the country safe.”

Carlos Giménez can sympathize with first responders. Image via NY Post.

The bill would reauthorize the Fire Administration, Assistance to Firefighters Grant program and Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program staffing.

Giménez said the legislation would be particularly helpful to rural fire departments, and noted federal grants provided $5.6 million to Monroe County agencies. Another $2.3 million in federal aid also helped the Miami-Dade County Fire Department.

Bank breach

​​Has Mexico nominated a sympathizer to hostile regimes to head a world bank? Miami Republican Salazar sounded alarms on Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, a candidate under consideration for president of the Inter-American Development Bank.

“We cannot allow a communist sympathizer to lead the Inter-American Development Bank,” Salazar said. “At a time when socialists are taking over Latin America, it would be incredibly dangerous to the United States and the cause of freedom in our hemisphere for them to have an ally strategically placed in the heart of Washington D.C. The Biden Administration must oppose her candidacy.”

Maria Salazar sounds the alarm about Alicia Bárcena Ibarra.

She wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urging that the administration cast the U.S.’s vote against elevating Ibarra, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean from 2008 to 2022.

The IADB’s board will meet Nov. 20 to elect a new president. The bank serves as the largest source of development financing in Latin America and the Caribbean with a usable equity of approximately $35.1 billion. But the U.S. serves as the largest shareholder for the bank, representing 30% of the vote share on any decisions to be made.

On this day

Nov. 4, 2008 — “Barack Obama wins election” via The New York Times — Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States, sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease as the country chose him as its first Black chief executive. Obama’s election amounted to a national catharsis, a repudiation of a historically unpopular Republican President and his economic and foreign policies, and an embrace of Obama’s call for a change in the direction and the tone of the country. But it was just as much a strikingly symbolic moment in the evolution of the nation’s fraught racial history, a breakthrough that would have seemed unthinkable just two years ago.

Nov. 4, 1988 — “Ronald Reagan sweeps to a landslide victory” via The Washington Post — Reagan, the 69-year-old former Governor of California who transferred his acting talents and conservative views from the soundstages of Hollywood to the halls of government, won a sweeping victory as the 40th President of the United States and immediately pledged to “seize the historic opportunity to change things.” Nominated by the Republicans who had twice rejected his bids to head their ticket, Reagan defeated President Jimmy Carter by a landslide margin in electoral votes, with independent John B. Anderson far behind and winning no states.

Happy birthday

Best wishes to Rep. Frederica Wilson, who turns 80 on Saturday, Nov. 5.

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Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles and edited and assembled by Phil Ammann and Ryan Nicol, with contributions by A.G. Gancarski and Anne Geggis.

Staff Reports



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