Bernie Sanders Archives - Florida Politics

Blake Dowling: The almighty email

Ray Tomlinson invented email in 1972. Tomlinson was an ARPANET contractor and picked the @ symbol to reference digital communications between computers.

Since then, things have changed — just a wee bit.

In a perfect world, organizations use email to share quick bursts of info with clients, colleagues, constituents, etc.

But, in the real world, people send massive files, keep enormous inboxes, all while sending the most confidential voter, medical and financial info. Designed as a communicative tool for nonsensitive info, people are now using email as the send-all-be-all of their organizations.

If you don’t archive your emails and use a file structure (outside of your inbox) think about giving that some time. Digital organization is greatness.

Over the years, I’ve come across a few situations where people have emailed me some very sensitive info by mistake.

So, as a best practices rule-of-thumb, if you can’t say it aloud, don’t email it.

One client was considering an alternative to our company and sent our proposal to a competitor, asking the other company to break down our proposal and beat our price. They accidentally cc’ed me.

In my eyes, their brand is forever tarnished. An hour later, when I received a request to ignore the previous email, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was like a court order to “strike that comment from the record” — the cat is already out of the bag, and said cat holds a major grudge.

Recently, my wife was trying to get her air conditioning fixed at a local car shop; they were refusing to honor the warranty.

They then sent this gem to 6 internal staff, cc’ing me by mistake. There was nothing up, no one even looked at the car beside them. Now, whenever I think of auto repair, I see them as the clowns of the business. I always will.

Had they not sent this email, I would have been none the wiser. One person ruined their national brand. (I bet they got an A in clown school.)

We will not name names here, but here is part of the message:

“Paul Harvey version was the washer bottle is broken! How does a washer bottle get broken, and AC system over charged ???? We were asking questions since vehicle has not ever been in our stores for repairs or service. Car fax was clean so we are fixing the vehicle under warranty since we cannot prove anything and the Dowling’s are giving us any information other than being very defensive which usually in my book means something up.”

The Democratic National Committee learned the power of email — the wrong way.

Jobs were lost, trust destroyed. In the aftermath of the Nevada Democratic convention, Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote about Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager: “Damn liar. Particularly scummy that he barely acknowledges the violent and threatening behavior that occurred.”

In another email, Wasserman Schultz said of Sanders: “He isn’t going to be president.”

Other emails had her stating that Sanders doesn’t understand the Democratic Party. Bernie got hosed. Email pain is not just for Democrats, Republicans past and present have had their fair share of problems.

Email woes have no party affiliation.

There should be an email protocol — in writing — for all your staffers, including interns, volunteers, and all the way to the top.

We don’t need to go into mail servers (or things like that); email is simply not a secure platform for communication.

Don’t talk trash, send credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or anything confidential via email. Yes, there are encryption packages available to secure email communication, if you are willing to make the investment.

Nevertheless, use email as designed, and you will have a pleasant and (most importantly) more secure computing experience.

Be safe out there.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

 

Florida Democratic Party chair Stephen Bittel is a rich a*shole, but …

Stephen Bittel is a rich a*shole.

And I was always of the opinion that was precisely why the battered and marginalized Florida Democratic Party selected him to lead it out of these dark, Trumpian, perpetually-irrelevant-in Tallahassee, times.

There was also a vocal minority of the party’s grassroots which disagreed with that notion, preferring a chair who represented the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.

They lost. Just as Sanders lost in Florida by a nearly 2-1 margin.

So both factions of the party knew full well what they were getting with Bittel, and they got it: a rich a*shole.

To be clear, Bittel’s behavior surrounding the scheduling conflict that has been the source of the recent controversy was way out of line. Blaming black lawmakers for a slight felt by the entire Democratic legislative caucus was, in Bittel’s own words, “childish” at best, and racist at worst.

I’m pretty sure it was childish and born from the fact that we’re talking about an older, wealthy, CEO-type used to trains running smoothly and on time, dealing with the hair-pullingly frustrating chaos and logistical insanity of a major political event.

That explains his behavior. It doesn’t excuse it. But the man has apologized sincerely and profusely. Again, today he did so personally with Senate Democratic leader Oscar Braynon and incoming House leader Kionne McGhee.

Democrats need to move on. Stephen Bittel is not Frank Artiles. He’s not even Bill Maher.

He’s the rich a*shole that Democrats chose — by a fairly significant margin, if memory serves — to lead them out of the abject political wilderness they’ve found themselves. He was the only real choice to do so then, and so he remains.

Consider this:

What’s been lost in all this internecine drama since the weekend, is the fact that Florida Democrats cleared over $1 million in donations for their annual gala. A big part of that was the undeniable draw of former Vice President Joe Biden, who Bittel personally cajoled into headlining the event (and who the former VPOTUS thanked and praised in his remarks).

There is no planet in which the FDP could have pulled off this past weekend of fundraising and party-building — which but for the unfortunate conflict arising between Bittel and black lawmakers, went off flawlessly — under the leadership of any other chair.

Democrats need to accept Bittel’s apologies and accept that Bittel’s flaws are his strengths.

Florida Republicans love rich a*sholes, and they control the Legislature, Governor’s Mansion, and the Cabinet. A rich a*shole on the Democratic side has stepped up to help his flagging party.

Florida Democrats, take the help. You need it.

At Florida Democrats Leadership Gala, Joe Biden argues progressives can still win working class vote

In the immediate aftermath of Hillary Clinton‘s stunning Electoral College loss to Donald Trump last November, Democrats took to writing think pieces and conducting heated arguments about how they lost working-class white voters.

Questions like: Was it too much of “identity politics”? Were they too elitist?

Joe Biden has heard and read about those discussions, and he’s sick of them.

“This phony debate going on in the Democratic Party, the Hobbesian choice that we’re given — we either become less progressive, and focus on working folks, or forget about working folk and become more progressive,” he said while giving the keynote speech to more than 1,200 Democrats at the party’s Leadership Blue Gala at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood.

“There is no need to choose, they are not inconsistent,” he said to a cheering crowd.

That’s easy for Biden to say. Biden’s unique political persona as a longtime member of the U.S. Senate representing Delaware has been one of representing the working class whites that Clinton lost to Trump last fall.

Biden himself thought hard about running for president, but with no clear daylight and so much of the Democratic Party establishment supporting Clinton (including President Barack Obama), he opted to stand down, but made the case on Saturday that the party could win back those voters, with an obvious inference being that he could be that candidate to do so in 2020.

Citing congressional ratings that showed him to be among the top ten liberal senators in the nation in his 36-year career, Biden said he has been a progressive and someone who could capture the working class vote, so Democrats should know that they could get those votes as well.

“These folks we’re talking about who left us — they voted for a black man named Barack Obama!” 

In fact, exit polls show that approximately 12 percent of voters who supported Obama turned around and chose Trump in 2012.

The former Vice President talked about the working class voters that the Democratic lost in the crucial Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. He said it was things like digitalization and automation that are putting people out of work, in what he called “this fourth industrial revolution” which is causing real anxiety and fear among many Americans.

“They’re worried that they won’t be able to keep up,” he said. “So we saw of playing to their fears, their lesser angels, their basic instincts, rather than their better angels can still have a powerful impact as a political tool.”

He then dug deep into what he said was the “hopelessness” of some of these Americans, mentioning the statistic that white men aged 45-54 who are dying at a quicker rate than any other demographic right now.

“Highest rate of drug abuse. Not the ‘hood. There,” he barked.

And Biden talked about how that anxiety can play out by lashing out at “the others,” such as undocumented immigrants, Muslims and the transgendered. “Anyone not like you can become the scapegoat.”

It was a compelling speech, marred only by a detour into how cutting tax loopholes could free up money to pay for the community college being the only soft spots in the 51-minute address.

He also chastised Democrats for failing to think big, going for an incremental change instead.

“What the hell is happening?!” he asked. “We build new things by breaking old things.”

“No, no. I’m being deadly earnest,” he followed up, one of half-dozen times he would point out his previous comment, making sure everyone knew he wasn’t joking.

While his intensity came close to yelling at the audience at points, a few times he dropped down to a whisper, where the audience had to literally lean in to hear him, such as when he described a conversation with his father, who once told him: “Joey, I don’t expect government to be able to solve our problems, but I do expect them to understand them. Just understand them.”

Remaining sotto voce, Biden admitted: “That slice of people that Barack and I had, Democrats have always had, that don’t think we understand them anymore. It’s not a lot, but it was the difference in the election.”

The former VP also asked for more civility in our politics, without mentioning the current president’s name. “We have to treat the opposition with more dignity,” he said, then boasted that there wasn’t a single Republican on Capitol Hill who doesn’t trust him or won’t talk to him.

The 74-year-old Biden recently launched “American Possibilities PAC,” a political-action committee that will keep him engaged to help other Democrats, but immediately sparked more discussion about a possible 2020 run, when he would be 77.

Then again, Donald Trump is already the oldest president in our history, having turned 71 last week.

Though there will be plenty of other Democrats in the mix, two of the leading lights — Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — will also be in their 70s in three years. Sanders would be 78; Warren would be 71.

House Republican Dan Raulerson wants everyone to own a gun

The attempted assassination Wednesday morning of Louisiana Republican Congressman Steve Scalise in suburban Washington D.C. has shaken the nation.

Certainly, lawmakers now realize how vulnerable they are to mentally unstable people with access to firearms who disagree with them politically.

At Friday’s Tampa Tiger Bay Club, five members of the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation were asked their thoughts on what the shooting means for Floridians, and the nation.

Plant City Republican House member Dan Raulerson said the answer was simple — everyone, especially lawmakers — should be armed.

“I think each one of those congressmen should be carrying a weapon. I think we all should be carrying a weapon,” he said, creating a buzz of dissent in the audience among the liberal-leaning Tiger Bay members at Friday’s meeting at the Ferguson Law Center in downtown Tampa.

“I’m sorry folks, I’m sorry, but here’s the point,” Raulerson said. “The Constitution gives us the right to bear arms, but also gives us the responsibility to own and operate a weapon.”

As widely noted, probably the only reason there wasn’t more carnage on that baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia where Congressional Republicans were at practice was that Scalise, as a member of House leadership, had police protection. That’s something that most regular members of Congress don’t have.

“Now we’re discussing should we fund armed security for each of us?” Raulerson asked with disdain. “No, we can’t do that, we can’t afford that. But we do have the right and the ability to protect ourselves, and that’s what the Constitution gives us.”

The other two Republicans on the panel — Tampa House District 63 Rep. Shawn Harrison and Brandon Sen. Tom Lee — wouldn’t go as far as Raulerson in providing a tidy policy prescription based on the Wednesday’s shooting.

“Life is about balance. Law abiding citizens should be allowed to own guns,” said Harrison. “We have to do a better job of keeping guns out of the hands of people who have mental instability. Clearly what we had was a crazy person in Virginia who hated a different member of a political party, and took that out on those members of different political parties.”

Federal law enforcement officials identified the alleged shooter as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, who died following a shootout with authorities. He was said to be a Bernie Sanders supporter who loathed President Donald Trump and other Republicans.

Harrison said there’s too much hate in the country.

“We need to start realizing that just because you have an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ next to your name, you’re not the enemy of the other side,” he said, adding that “we need to work on constructive dialogue to keep crazy people from doing crazy things.”

Lee compared the situation to the drug problem in America, saying whether it’s pill mills or heroine or Fentanyl, “these are a demand-size problem, not supply-side problems.”

The two Democrats on the panel — St. Petersburg-based lawmakers Darryl Rouson and Wengay Newton, chimed in as well.

Rouson talked about the fact that he was pleased that though there was a slew of pro-gun bills on the agenda of some lawmakers (such as Sarasota Senate Republican Greg Steube, who had 10 such bills filed), few of them passed this year.

Newton said it was all about ensuring that the mentally ill didn’t get access to firearms, though he didn’t say how that could be accomplished.

“The laws are only put in for people who abide by the law,” he said. “If you’re not a law-abiding citizen, the law does not mean Jack.”

The Republicans on the panel were also challenged on two consecutive questions from the audience about their refusal to expand Medicaid when it came before them back in 2013 (that was the only year when a serious attempt for a hybrid form of Medicaid expansion was passed in the Senate but lost in the House).

Harrison had the distinction of being one of only three House Republicans to support the Senate bill (which earned him applause when he said that).

“My belief was while the feds are paying 100 percent, why not see if it can work?” he said.

Lee also supported the plan (only St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes opposed it in the Senate). He disputed that it was a clash between the parties, and said, in this case, it was “inner chamber problems.”

When asked how much they are paying for their health insurance, all five lawmakers confessed it was only $180 a month.

“Must be nice,” one audience member muttered.

Bernie Sanders says man ID’d as shooter was on campaign

Virginia shooting suspect James T Hodgkinson

Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders says the man authorities identified as opening fire on the Republican congressional baseball practice had apparently volunteered on his presidential campaign.

Sanders, of Vermont, says in a statement: “I am sickened by this despicable act.”

He says that “violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

He paid tribute to Capitol Police for their response to the shooting, and said his “hopes and prayers” are with House GOP Whip Steve Scalise and others who were wounded.

Sanders challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential election.

He adds in his statement that “real change” can only come through nonviolent action.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Tim Canova blasts FDP for Debbie Wasserman Schultz kicking off Leadership Blue gala this weekend — but it’s unknown if she’ll actually speak

Whether Debbie Wasserman Schultz is actually scheduled to speak this weekend at the Florida Democratic Party Leadership Blue Gala this weekend is in question, but the possibility of that happening has brought out the wrath of the man she defeated in her congressional primary last year, Tim Canova.

“The party needs to move forward. She is perhaps the most divisive Democrat in the country,” Canova told FloridaPolitics.com Tuesday, following a post on his Facebook page criticizing what he said was the decision by the FDP to allow Wasserman Schultz to address the party members at the annual three-day confab.

“She’s the personification of the disgrace, the scandal and the failure of the party,” Canova continued. “While she was the head of the DNC, the Democrats lost almost 1,000 legislative seats. She’s been implicated in violating the oath of impartiality in the presidential campaign.”

But there is some question about whether Wasserman Schultz is actually speaking at the event.

“It’s my understanding that U.S. House Members are not on the program this year,” Wasserman Schultz’ communications director David Damron said in an email.

The first news that she would be speaking came from a column by Sunshine State News contributor Leslie Wimes.

The Florida Democratic Party isn’t talking about who is speaking at the event, though it’s been publicized for weeks that Vice President Joe Biden will be the keynote speaker.

Canova ran and lost to Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary for the Congressional District 23 seat by 14 points last August. It was a tense and divisive race.

Wasserman Schultz served as chair of the Democratic National Committee from May of 2011 until last July, when thousands of released emails among party officials appeared to show co­ordinated efforts to help Hillary Clinton at the expense of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, an idea that had been promulgated by Sanders, Martin O’Malley and their supporters for much of 2016. That contradicted claims by the party and the Clinton campaign that the process was open and fair.

Those emails were published by WikiLeaks on the weekend leading into the Democratic National Convention in late July. On the Sunday before the convention began, the uproar was so intense that Wasserman Schultz announced she would resign at the end of the convention.

But early on the next morning, Wasserman Schultz was unceremoniously jeered by members of the Florida delegation, an embarrassing event captured live on cable news that compelled her to step down immediately as DNC Chair.

Canova says that at one point he was scheduled to appear on some panels this weekend in Hollywood at Leadership Blue but was contacted by Sally Boynton Brown, the president of the FDP, and told that candidates for office cannot participate in such panels.

However, that would appear to be in conflict with a scheduled Democratic Progressive Caucus panel featuring the three announced Democrats running for governor: Andrew Gillum, Chris King and Gwen Graham.

Although he has not officially announced another run in 2018, Canova did establish a campaign committee earlier this year. He says he understands Brown’s decision, and will attend the Gala to speak at some of the various caucuses Saturday.

Last Friday afternoon, Boynton Brown then called Canova and invited him to speak on a panel.

“What changed?” he asked her.

Canova says that Boynton Brown said Wasserman Schultz called to say that she wanted to give the gala’s welcoming remarks, “so this would allow it [to be] easier for them to allow Debbie to speak at the gala,” Canova says.

“I didn’t want to be complicit in that,” Canova says. “Putting Debbie Wasserman Schultz to welcome people to the gala is an atrocious idea.”

However, it now appears that Wasserman Schultz will not be speaking – but the fact is, nobody knows for certain at this time.

Canova is also hyping his own event for Thursday night, where he will announce political plans for next year.

 

David Jolly still appearing on Bill Maher’s show Friday; says Al Franken should too

David Jolly fully intends to appear on “Real Time with Bill Maher” Friday night, as do previously scheduled guests Ice Cube and Symone Sanders, the former national press secretary for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

This despite the controversy circling around the comedian, who used the N-word during his show last Friday night, prompting widespread condemnation and calls for HBO to oust him from the gig.

As it stands now, the only previously scheduled guest on the comic’s weekly program who won’t appear is U.S. Sen. Al Franken; Jolly says the Minnesota Democrat is making a mistake blowing off the program.

“Frankly, if Franken had such convictions, then the opportunity was for him to go on the show and to speak to it, not run away and hide from it,” says the former Republican congressman, whose unabashed criticism of President Donald Trump has made him a favorite this year for CNN and MSNBC bookers.

Scheduled to replace Franken is academic and author Michael Eric Dyson. In a statement issued over the weekend, Dyson, who is black, came to Maher’s defense after the comedian used what is perhaps the most toxic word in the English language.

“[Maher] has bravely, and relentlessly, pilloried racism, white privilege, and white indifference to the black plight,” Dyson wrote on Twitter. “In short, he has used his platform to highlight black faces, and amplify black voices, that might otherwise have never been given such a prominent perch to tell their truths.”

Maher subsequently issued an apology, and the next day HBO called the comment “completely inexcusable and tasteless” as well as “deeply offensive.”

The cable network also announced it removed the offensive phrase from “any subsequent airings of the show.”

In the wake of the controversy, some analysts think D.C. lawmakers — who have enjoyed getting a dose of Hollywood cool by appearing on the show — may now think twice about accepting an offer to appear. This year alone, ‘Real Time’ featured politicos like Elizabeth Warren, Darrell Issa and (now most notoriously) Nebraska Sen Ben Sasse, who took some incoming fire for failing to call Maher out for using a racial epithet in replying to Sasse’s invitation to come to Nebraska.

The Hollywood Reporter quoted one public relations professional Tuesday saying that while “commentators will still be interested in the platform, (but) elected officials will be less interested. They have more at stake — they’re associated with the language used on the program.”

Jolly dismisses the idea that if he were still in Congress he’d bow out, a la Franken.

“I’m open to just as much criticism now, just because I speak publicly to hard issues,” he says. “The safest place for a politician to be is silent, and to hide from controversy. That’s not just Franken, that’s the DNA of most politicians.”

Having said that, Jolly admits to having some “trepidation” about doing the show in a way that he didn’t a week ago.

“I did some soul-searching in the days following Friday night,” he adds, “but it wouldn’t be true to my character to shy away from controversy or hard issues.”

Jolly says he has “no idea” what might transpire differently Friday night than the usual formula for the hourlong live program.

“Nobody condones what he said. Certainly I don’t. I’m as curious as the rest of the country in seeing how he handles Friday night. I don’t have any advance knowledge.”

A number of black commentators have said Maher’s comment was offensive, but they don’t think he should be fired. Despite that, there have been many calls for HBO to can him, including one from NPR’s Eric Deggans.

As Deggans wrote earlier this week: “It’s evidence of a pattern — one that HBO now needs to decide whether it wants to continue to be associated with, especially for a channel where 22 percent of its viewership comes from black people.”

Marco Rubio, Sen. Chris Coons introduce bill to enhance college opportunity for low-income youth

Sen. Marco Rubio has teamed with his colleague Sen. Chris Coons to introduce re-introduce legislation designed to help low-income and at risk students. The Florida Republican and Delaware Democrat launched the American Dream Accounts Act that would provide increased access to a college education.

The two senators joined with Opportunity Nation, a group promoting educational and employment opportunities for youth, to announce the introduction of the legislation. Joining them at the announcement was Opportunity Nation executive director, Monique Rizer.

“I was happy to join Senator Coons and Opportunity Nation today to announce the reintroduction of American Dream Accounts Act,” said Rubio. “Since its inception, America has been a unique nation where anyone from anywhere can do anything. We must keep it that way and I believe one way to do that is to provide more pathways for children to attend college.”

The legislation authorizes the Department of Education to award three-year competitive grants that would support innovation and partnerships supporting low-income students preparing for a college education. Those grants would fund personal online accounts and open college savings accounts for eligible students as well as supporting college-readiness efforts.

“If we want to ensure that American workers can compete in the global economy, we must ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to access higher education,” said Coons. “The American Dream Accounts Act would bridge the opportunity gap by connecting students, teachers, parents, and mentors to create a new generation of higher education achievers through streamlining resources that would allow young people to prepare for, save for, train for, and achieve their dreams for their futures.”

In addition to Opportunity Nation, the legislation is endorsed by other state and national affiliates such as the First Focus Campaign for Children, Corporation for Enterprise Development, the National PTA and others.

“We are proud to endorse the American Dream Accounts Act sponsored by Senators Coons and Rubio, which provides an evidence based, collaborating solution to ensuring more young people have access and complete their post-secondary education, which is critical in the 21st century workforce,” said Rizer.

While the senators are generally drawing kudos for the bill, not everyone thinks this is a good idea. Responses on Rubio’s Facebook page used terms like “RINO” (Republican in Name Only) and “Rubio is really a Democrat.” Others offered the Bernie Sanders approach that college should be free.

The bill was assigned to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

 

Chris King says uncontested Republican rule has failed Florida’s working families

Unlike the other four Democrats who have either entered the race for governor or are seriously flirting with the possibility, Winter Park businessman Chris King is somewhat of a blank slate for the majority of party members in Florida.

That’s why appearances at events like Monday night’s Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee are taking on added significance.

“We have an affordable housing crisis all over the state,” King addressed Democrats gathered at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County in Ybor City. “It is felt deeply here in Hillsborough County. There are 2.6 Floridians who don’t have access to a doctor who knows their name. Forty-five percent of our jobs pay less than $15 an hour, we have partisan gerrymandering, we’ve been fighting for years, we have toxic algae blooms we  can see from space, 90 percent of our students are in public school, and 90 percent of the conversation coming out of Tally is about.”

He paused as the crowd quietly announced: “Charters.”

During his 22-minute speech, the 38-year-old King talked policy and biography. He followed that with another 15 minutes of question-and-answer with DEC members.

King is CEO of Elevation Financial group, the Winter Park company he began over a decade ago with his brother, which invests in affordable and senior housing in the Southeast. While he hits the familiar Democratic talking points — education, health care and the environment — King also makes an issue out of the lack of affordable housing in the state, an issue which many other Democrats only give lip service.

“It’s not fair that we have huge tax cuts to the biggest corporations in America while were raiding the affordable housing trust fund to the tune of $1.7 billion over the last 15 years, which has been an all-out attack on seniors, on law enforcement, on recent college graduates, anyone who wants to make a life here in Florida” he said, referring to the fact that for the 10th year in a row, state lawmakers are proposing to sweep money from the affordable housing trust funds into the general revenue fund to spend on other purposes.

Echoing Bernie Sanders, King says the biggest problem in Florida is an economy which isn’t working for enough working families.

“Our economy is going in one direction — down,” he says, casting a different version of Florida than the one depicted last week by the only Republican to declare his candidacy for governor, Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam.

“The story that is not told — and we haven’t done a good job as Democrats, unfortunately of telling it over the last several decades — is that the party that stands up and says they’re the party of economic opportunity, they’re the party of growth and business and jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, actually in the last 15 years in Florida we’ve been on a steady decline. It’s not talked about, but it’s felt by working families all over Florida.”

King says that Florida’s per capita GDP is nearly identical today to where it was in 2000, and says that blame for that economic stagnation is completely on Republicans, who have controlled all levers of state government for nearly two decades.

“Florida is not growing, and it’s hurting families and our ability to do really anything that you and I care about,” King continued. He said if elected he would implement a “jump start fund” to make capital accessible to small business people.

King is one of three Democrats to have officially entered the 2018 sweepstakes for governor. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum was the first candidate out of the gate, and was followed by former Tallahassee area Congresswoman Gwen Graham two weeks ago.

Orlando attorney/entrepreneur John Morgan says he’s no rush to declare if he’s running (or not), while Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is in a “testing the waters” phase. Levine will speak at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club this Friday.

 

New coalition intent on bringing down cost of pharmaceuticals launches Florida campaign

A coalition of seniors, health plans and private companies advocating lower prescription drug costs is launching a campaign in Florida.

The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing (CSRxP) believes taxpayers should get a full accounting of how much they pay for high-cost drugs through federal programs like Medicare, or through research at the National Institutes of Health.

The coalition includes not only groups like Wal-Mart, AARP and the Service Employees International Union 1199, but health care organizations like Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the American College of Physicians.

“Out-of-control prescription drug prices hurt every American. From the patients who need the medications and the consumers who pay higher and higher health care costs, to the businesses that are forced to choose between providing health benefits and creating new jobs, and the hardworking taxpayers who foot the bill for hundreds of billions of dollars every year,” said John Rother, Executive Director of CSRxP. “We need real solutions now. Let’s work together to deliver market-based solutions that increase competition, create more choice, and ensure that open and honest prices are driven by the value that they bring to patients.”

The organization says that their campaign will include on-the-ground, grassroots initiatives in states across the country to help patients, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, businesses, and taxpayers who feel the consequences of rising drug prices every day.

For years, congressional Democrats have tried to pass legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices for millions of beneficiaries. It was a major component of Bernie Sanders campaign for president a year ago, and President Trump continues to talk about doing something substantively on the issue.

Last month, House Democrats Elijah Cummings from Maryland and Peter Welch from Vermont met privately for about an hour with Trump and HHS secretary, Tom Price, to discuss ways to combat high drug prices.

Trump tweeted the day before that meeting that he wanted to drug prices to come down.

CSRxP says that they will air their first ad on broadcast and cable television Tuesday that will run in Washington, D.C. and the districts of key lawmakers around the country. However, they did not return our request for comment on what congressional districts in Florida where the ad may run.

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