Hillary Clinton Archives - Florida Politics

Jack Latvala says he’ll capture more Trump voters than GOP opponents

While President Trump is being disparaged this week even by some Republicans following his controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them, Jack Latvala showed no qualms about the commander in chief when he said Wednesday that Trump voters in Florida may look more favorably upon his candidacy for governor than his opponents.

“I’m looking at a field that’s made up of people who have been in government their entire lives—either in elective office or as a staff member—and don’t have any business experience and have never really had those challenges that those of us that have businesses have, and I just think that the party who nominated Donald Trump (is) not going to be comfortable with nominating somebody like that,” Latvala told Tampa 820 AM host Dan Maduri on Wednesday.

Trump easily defeated Marco Rubio in the Florida Republican presidential primary more than a year ago, before capturing the Sunshine State narrowly over Hillary Clinton in last fall’s presidential election.

The 63-year-old Clearwater state senator was referring to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and House Speaker Richard Corcoran when he said that, unlike his opponents, he has no desire to run for higher office than governor, saying that leading Florida would be his ultimate destination.

“It’s a never ending ladder and I’m at the end of the ladder,” he said. “I’m old enough that this is my last race for anything, and I just want to get in and do what’s got to be done to solve some of these problems and straighten things out.”

Putnam declared his candidacy back in March, and remains the presumptive favorite in the race, thanks in part to his prodigious fundraising and simply the fact that he’s so well known after serving in politics for nearly half of his 43-year-old life. Corcoran has not declared for office, though he is expected to early in 2018.

Latvala announced last month that he would pledge to raise $50,000 over the next six months for the Republican Party of Florida. He told Maduri that someone has to do it, since Rick Scott and other high profile Republicans are raising money for their own political committees.

“The governor doesn’t participate with the party, the Cabinet members haven’t done that, and the leadership of the party is all out raising money for themselves, for their own PACS and own campaigns, and it’s taking it’s toll on the party,” he said. “We’ve got to remember the party.”

Latvala spoke to him the Tampa radio station en route to the Panhandle, where he was scheduled to make his third and final appearance around the state as he officially kicked off his run for governor on Wednesday.

(Photo credit: Kim DeFalco)

Why won’t Donald Trump condemn white nationalism?

Why doesn’t President Donald Trump just unequivocally condemn white supremacists?

It’s a jarring question to ask about an American president. But it’s also one made unavoidable by Trump’s delayed, blame-both-sides response to the violence that erupted Saturday when neo-Nazis, skinheads and members of the Ku Klux Klan protested in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trump has faced such a moment before — one that would have certainly drawn swift, almost predictable condemnations from his recent predecessors, regardless of party. As a candidate and now as president, when racial tensions flared or fringe groups rallied around his message, Trump has shown uncharacteristic caution and a reluctance to distance himself from the hate.

At times, his approach has seemingly inflamed racial tensions in a deeply divided country while emboldening groups long in the shadows.

On Saturday, as Trump read slowly through a statement about the clashes that left dozens injured and one woman dead, he condemned hatred, bigotry and violence “on many sides.” The president was silent when journalists asked whether he rejected the support of nationalists’ groups.

That silence was cheered by the white supremacist website Daily Stormer: “When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”

Trump denies that he’s racist or sympathetic to such groups. Son-in-law Jared Kushner, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, and daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism, are among those who have defended the president against those charges.

Still, he has a history of engaging in high-profile, racially fraught battles.

Early in his career as a developer, Trump fought charges of bias against blacks seeking to rent at his family-owned apartment complexes. He long promoted the lie that the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, was not born in the United States. As a candidate, he proposed temporarily banning Muslims from the United States. He retweeted a post from accounts that appeared to have ties to white nationalist groups. And he was slow to reject the endorsement of former KKK leader David Duke.

Some of the president’s friends and advisers have argued that Trump is simply refusing to bend to liberals’ desire for political correctness. A boastful, proudly disruptive politician, Trump often has been rewarded for saying impolite and impolitic things. Some supporters cheered him for being someone who said what they could not.

Democrats frequently assert that Trump sees a political advantage in courting the support of the far right. Indeed, he has benefited politically from the backing of media outlets such as Breitbart or InfoWars. They have consistently promoted Trump and torn down his opponents, sometimes with biased or inaccurate reports.

Charlottesville’s mayor, Democrat Mike Signer, said Sunday that Trump made a choice during his campaign to “go right to the gutter, to play on our worst prejudices.”

“I think you are seeing a direct line from what happened here this weekend to those choices,” Singer said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

White House senior adviser Steve Bannon ran Breitbart before joining Trump’s campaign, and several of the president’s other aides believe Bannon continues to have influence over the website. In “Devil’s Bargain,” a new book about his role in the Trump campaign, Bannon is quoted as saying that attempts by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to tie Trump to the alt-right and nationalists did not move voters.

“We polled the race stuff and it doesn’t matter,” Bannon said, according to the book.

But there here’s no reliable public polling on the scope of Trump’s support among those with white nationalist leanings or the percentage of the electorate they comprise. The reaction from Republicans following Trump’s statement Saturday suggests there may be greater political risks for the president in aligning himself with bigoted groups.

“The president needs to step up today and say what it is,” said Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who was one of several GOP lawmakers urging Trump to be more strident in calling out the nationalists and neo-Nazis that gathered in Charlottesville. Gardner said plainly: “It’s evil. It’s white nationalism.”

By Sunday, the White House was scrambling to try to clean up the president’s statement. The White House issued a statement saying the president does condemn “white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”

The spokeswoman who issued the statement refused to be named. And the president himself remained silent.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Daily Kos wildly off the mark trashing Phil Levine as ‘Trump-praising Democrat’

On Tuesday, the left-leaning Daily Kos trashed Phil Levine, calling the Miami Beach mayor a “Trump-praising Democrat” who could “hurt the party’s chance” to win the Florida Governor race.

This is not only misleading, but it is also inaccurate.

Apart from the unlikelihood that any Democrat would actually praise Trump, the accompanying article limited its focus a comment by Levine on FOX Radio’s Brian Kilmeade Show (another ill-advised move for a Democrat seeking higher office): “So far the president has done a very good job.”

What the Daily Kos took out of context was that Levine – a friend and surrogate of both Bill and Hillary Clinton who frequently blasted Trump in the campaign – was discussing the president’s well-received recent speech in Poland, and not his overall performance.

Also going unmentioned: Levine’s established Democratic positions, particularly on issues such as Medicaid expansion, climate change, minimum wage increase and more.

Indeed, Kilmeade even cut him off when Levine said: “It’s the funniest thing in the world to be an economic adviser to Donald Trump. That’s kind of like letting the arsonist run the fire department.”

Nevertheless, over the course of his political career, Levine has made many enemies, meaning he will have an uphill battle if he decides to run for governor, which he has not.

One thing Levine does have, if he should choose to run, is a lot of money.

“Levine is certainly fundraising like he’s running for higher office,” Kos writes. “Reportedly worth $100 million, the mayor raised $225,000 from donors in July and gave his own campaign another $275,000, bringing his total self-funding to $2.6 million this cycle.”

“That pace already puts Levine at the front of the pack financially,” the piece concludes, “ahead of every top-tier Democrat who’s announced already.”

Now would again be an appropriate time to repeat that Levine has not announced any further ambition, political or otherwise, beyond his recent SiriusXM “real Florida” listening tour. And if he does, it certainly wouldn’t be at the expense of the party’s chances of winning the Florida governors’ race.

Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto join ‘New Democracy,’ to win back middle-class voters

Two Central Florida first-year members of Congress — Stephanie Murphy and Darren Soto — are joining former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis and a group of Democrats determined to extend the party’s reach to centrist voters.

In what reads like an update of the earlier center-leaning Democratic Leadership Council, New Democracy has the explicit mandate to expand the party’s appeal, both demographically and geographically.

Leading New Democracy is Will Marshall, president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute and a co-founder of the now defunct DLC, created in the aftermath of Walter Mondale‘s landslide 1984 loss to Ronald Reagan. Alumni include Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Florida’s Bob Buckhorn and Rick Kriseman.

“New Democracy is a ‘home base’ and support network for pragmatic Democrats determined to make our party competitive in every part of America,” Marshall said. “These leaders — governors, mayors, state officials and Members of Congress — know how to reach beyond core partisans and build governing majorities from the ground up,” he added.

Since Hillary Clinton‘s November defeat much has been made about the Democratic Party losing white, middle-class voters to Donald Trump, particularly in the industrial Midwest. In addition to losses in the House, Senate and White House to Republicans, Democrats have also dropped 900 seats in state legislatures over the past nine years.

Marshall said New Democracy will focus on four key priorities for building a bigger Democratic tent: reclaiming economic hope and progress; engaging voters across America’s cultural divides; decentralizing power to more effective and trusted local governments, and putting national and personal security first.

“Democrats don’t need to choose between center and left — we need to expand in all directions,” he added. “Building a broad coalition is the Party’s best chance of rectifying today’s dangerous imbalance of political power and stopping the harmful Trump-Republican agenda.”

Along with Florida Democrats enlisted to help guide New Democracy’s strategy is Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. 

Bipartisan Senate bill aims to protect special counsel’s job

Two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are moving to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s job, putting forth new legislation that aims to ensure the integrity of current and future independent investigations.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware plan to introduce the legislation Thursday. The bill would allow any special counsel for the Department of Justice to challenge his or her removal in court, with a review by a three-judge panel within 14 days of the challenge.

The bill would be retroactive to May 17, 2017 — the day Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to Donald Trump‘s campaign.

“It is critical that special counsels have the independence and resources they need to lead investigations,” Tillis said in a statement. “A back-end judicial review process to prevent unmerited removals of special counsels not only helps to ensure their investigatory independence, but also reaffirms our nation’s system of check and balances.”

Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May following Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey. Mueller, who was Comey’s predecessor as FBI director, has assembled a team of prosecutors and lawyers with experience in financial fraud, national security and organized crimes to investigate contacts between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Trump has been critical of Mueller since his appointment, and his legal team is looking into potential conflicts surrounding the team Mueller has hired, including the backgrounds of members and political contributions by some members to Hillary Clinton. He has also publicly warned Mueller that he would be out of bounds if he dug into the Trump family’s finances.

Mueller has strong support on Capitol Hill. Senators in both parties have expressed concerns that Trump may try to fire Mueller and have warned him not to do so.

“Ensuring that the special counsel cannot be removed improperly is critical to the integrity of his investigation,” Coons said.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, another member of the Judiciary panel, said last week that he was working on a similar bill that would prevent the firing of a special counsel without judicial review. Graham said then that firing Mueller “would precipitate a firestorm that would be unprecedented in proportions.”

The Tillis and Coons bill would allow review after the special counsel had been dismissed. If the panel found there was no good cause for the counsel’s removal, the person would be immediately reinstated. The legislation would also codify existing Justice Department regulations that a special counsel can only be removed for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest or other good cause, such as a violation of departmental policies.

In addition, only the attorney general or the most senior Justice Department official in charge of the matter could fire the special counsel.

In the case of the current investigation, Rosenstein is charged with Mueller’s fate because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from all matters having to do with the Trump-Russia investigation.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell ready to take on Carlos Curbelo in CD 26

In front of the West Perrine Health Center in Miami, Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell officially announced her candidacy for Florida’s 26th Congressional District, where she hopes to take on Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo next year.

Although Curbelo is considered extremely vulnerable in the Democratic leaning district that stretches from Miami to Key West, Mucarsel-Powell is the first Democrat to officially file a challenge in CD 26 for 2018.

Last year, Mucarsel-Powell lost a bid for a state senate bid against Republican Anitere Flores.

“I immigrated to the United States as a young girl with my mother and three sisters — in search of opportunities to better our lives,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “My mother worked tirelessly as a home health care provider and attended school in the evenings and weekends to learn English. She instilled in me the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules, your potential is endless in America. I lived those values — got a good education and built a successful twenty-year career working to improve the lives of underserved communities right here at home.”

Mucarsel-Powell blasted Curbelo for his vote in support of the GOP health care bill in the House.

“It’s shocking that Washington politicians, like the one who claims to represent this community, would vote to rip away health care access from our families,” she said. “That’s not what we want and it’s not what hardworking families like the one I grew up in need. We need to improve on what’s working and fix what’s broken in our health care system, not recklessly scrap the whole system and abandon people who need it the most.

Murcasel-Powell also said she’s seen first hand the negative effects of climate change.

“We must invest in green energy, reduce carbon emissions and invest in infrastructure that will protect South Florida from sea level rise.  We cannot continue to elect politicians that say one thing here at home and do another in D.C. — the issues are too big; the stakes are too high.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been targeting Curbelo for months. Although Curbelo defeated Democrat Joe Garcia last November by 12 points, Hillary Clinton won CD 26 by 10 points over Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton lost, but Republicans still want to investigate her

Democrat Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to President Donald Trump, but some Republicans in Congress are intensifying their calls to investigate her and other Obama administration officials.

As investigations into Russian meddling and possible links to Trump’s campaign have escalated on both sides of the Capitol, some Republicans argue that the investigations should have a greater focus on Democrats.

Democrats who have pushed the election probes “have started a war of investigative attrition,” said GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Several officials from former President Barack Obama’s administration and Clinton’s campaign have appeared before or been interviewed by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as part of the Russia investigation, along with Trump campaign officials. The GOP-led committees are investigating whether Trump’s campaign had any links to Russian interference in last year’s election.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has continued a separate investigation into whether Obama administration officials inappropriately made requests to “unmask” identities of Trump campaign officials in intelligence reports.

The House Judiciary Committee, which has declined to investigate the Russian meddling, approved a resolution this past week to request documents related to the FBI’s now-closed investigation of Clinton’s emails. In addition, Republican on that committee wrote the Justice Department on Thursday and asked for a second special counsel, in addition to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, to investigate “unaddressed matters, some connected to the 2016 election and others, including many actions taken by Obama administration.”

“The American public has a right to know the facts — all of them — surrounding the election and its aftermath,” the lawmakers wrote.

Republicans want to investigate the unmasking issue and also Clinton’s email scandal that figured prominently in the campaign. They also frequently bring up former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony that she told him to call the Clinton email investigation a “matter” instead of an investigation during the campaign.

Nunes wrote his own letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats last week, saying that his committee has learned that one Obama administration official had made “hundreds” of the unmasking requests.

Even though he remains committee chairman, Nunes stepped back from the Russia investigation earlier this year after he was criticized for being too close to the White House. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, took over the leading role.

The committee has conducted bipartisan interviews of witnesses; Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner appeared on Tuesday, a day after talking to Senate staff. But partisan tensions have been evident.

GOP Rep. Pete King of New York, who’s on the House Intelligence Committee, said after the Kushner interview that the committee investigation into Russian meddling is a “sham.”

“To me there is nothing to this from the beginning,” he said of his committee’s own probe. “There is no collusion … it’s the phoniest investigation ever.”

Both the Senate and House committees have interviewed or expressed interest in interviewing a series of Democratic witnesses, including Obama’s former national security adviser, Susan Rice, and former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power — both of whom Republicans have said may be linked to the unmasking. Rice met with staff on the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month, and Power met with the panel Friday.

“Ambassador Power strongly supports any bipartisan effort to address the serious threat to our national security posed by Russia’s interference in our electoral process, and is eager to engage with the Senate and House committees on the timeline they have requested,” Power’s lawyer, David Pressman, said in a statement.

Hillary Clinton calling new book ‘What Happened’

Hillary Clinton is calling her new book “What Happened” and promising unprecedented candor as she remembers her stunning defeat last year to Donald Trump.

“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net,” Clinton writes in the introduction, according to publisher Simon & Schuster. “Now I’m letting my guard down.”

Simon & Schuster told The Associated Press on Thursday that Clinton’s book will be a highly personal work that also is a “cautionary tale” about Russian interference in last year’s election and its threat to democracy. In public remarks since last fall, the Democrat has cited Russia as a factor in her defeat to her Republican opponent, along with a letter sent by then-FBI Director James Comey less than two weeks before the election.

Comey’s letter, sent to Congress on Oct. 28, said the FBI “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” into the private email server that Clinton used as secretary of state. Days later, Comey wrote that the FBI did not find anything new.

“Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules,” according to Simon & Schuster. “In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterwards.”

“What Happened” is scheduled to come out Sept. 12 and has evolved since first announced, in February. It was originally billed as a book of essays that would “tell stories from her life, up to and including her experiences in the 2016 presidential campaign,” as opposed to a memoir centered on the race. Clinton’s loss has already been the subject of the best-selling “Shattered,” a highly critical book by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, and a more sympathetic account, Susan Bordo’s “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton.”

Within hours of Thursday’s announcement, “What Happened” had jumped from No. 3,350 to No. 17 on Amazon.com.

Clinton’s previous works include the 2003 memoir “Living History,” published while she was a U.S. senator from New York, and a book about her years as secretary of state, “Hard Choices,” which came out in 2014 as she prepared to launch her presidential candidacy. She also wrote “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us” when she was first lady.

Her upcoming memoir isn’t the first political book to be called “What Happened.” Scott McClellan, a former White House press secretary during the George W. Bush administration, released a book with the same title in 2008. McClellan’s memoir was an unexpectedly critical take on his former boss that became a best-seller.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Steve Schale: SD 40 — an interesting test for Dems, GOP

This piece is more designed for my readers who don’t live and breathe Florida politics: there is a state Senate election on Sept. 26 you should be paying attention to, a race that could be an interesting test of how the GOP’s institutional advantages measure up to Donald Trump‘s policies, favorability, Democratic enthusiasm and demographic trend lines.

Honestly, it is a race providing a real opportunity for both parties.

First, it is important to remember State Senate seats in Florida are not much smaller than congressional districts, and this one, when fully engaged in the state’s most expensive media market, will see the spending tab run well into the millions. In a typical election cycle, spending in Florida’s top state Senate races will outpace most Congressional races down here.

So, a little about the district — this is Senate District 40.

Located in Dade County, SD 40 is almost 75 percent Hispanic by census, and depending on the election, typically falls in the mid-60s Hispanic among actual voters. There is also a significant Black population, which in Dade is both African-American and Caribbean American. On its surface to an outsider, it looks like a Democratic lay-up. But keep in mind, a substantial proportion of Hispanics in Dade are Cuban, which means one key thing: a much more Republican orientation than Hispanic-dominated urban districts outside of Florida (or frankly, outside of SE Florida).

Hillary Clinton easily dispatched Donald Trump in this district, carrying it by 16 points (56-40). Like a lot of Dade County districts, some of my Democratic friends look at those Clinton numbers and say, “well that is our seat.” But the Clinton number is highly deceptive and doesn’t tell the full story. For example, Marco Rubio carried the district by 4 points (51-47), and among the precincts, this district shares with the highly competitive Congressional District 26 – roughly two-thirds of registered voters in SD 40 are also in CD 26 — Carlos Curbelo carried the district by 13 points. To show just how volatile this district can be — in those same CD 26 precincts, Clinton beat Trump by 18 points, a marginal swing of 31 points.

In the fall, Republicans carried this seat by 10 points, as then state Rep. Frank Artiles defeated then-state Sen. Dwight Bullard in an entirely new seat created by the court-mandated redistricting in 2015-16.

If you talk to Florida observers, you will get a lot of reasons why Bullard lost by this margin, but one interesting point in the data, the percentages that Bullard received are almost identical to the percentages that CD 26 Democratic nominee Joe Garcia received in the precincts that they shared. In fact, in 75 or the 92 identical precincts between the seats, the two Democrats saw their share deviate by less than 3 percent. In other words, it is fair to say that the Bullard/Garcia numbers are the Democratic floor in SD 40.

Along the same lines, the Rubio race might be a better view of the GOP ceiling in the race than either of the races above. Rubio/Patrick Murphy was more of a truly “contested” race — particularly when compared to the aforementioned state Senate and congressional campaigns. And in all honesty, Murphy still wasn’t running at the same levels as Rubio, who by and large, ran as a Miami hometown hero. The fact Rubio only won by four in this seat truly shows how much has changed in Miami-Dade County over the last decade.

This seat was destined to be a battleground seat in 2018, but the incumbent Artiles was forced to resign this spring (like most Florida political messes, it is quite a story — you can Google the details if you wish), setting up this 2017 showdown.

Tuesday’s primary left us with a general election between Republican state Rep. Jose Felix ‘Pepi’ Diaz, and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo. Both have interesting Trump-era stories — Diaz was on The Apprentice, and Taddeo, a 2016 Congressional candidate, was a victim of the Russian hacking.

In full disclosure, both are friends: Taddeo was Charlie Crist‘s LG nominee (I was an adviser to Crist), and Diaz and I are both active in a nonpartisan international political exchange organization.

In their primary, Republicans chose right. Diaz is a well-liked and earnest legislator, who is generally considered to be a moderate in his party. For example, he took on many in his own party to lead the fight in Tallahassee to remove a Florida statue of a Confederate General from the U.S. Capitol, and he led an effort to expand children’s health care for immigrants. Diaz fits the mold of the type of Republican who can (and do) succeed in districts like this in South Florida.

The Democrats also chose the stronger of their two candidates. Taddeo, is an energetic and engaging candidate, who has truly lived the American Dream immigrant story — coming to America in her teens, learning English, putting herself in college, and building a very successful small business. She’s been on the ballot several times, running for Congress as a Hispanic Democrat in Dade long before that was the politically smart thing to do, but in doing so, has built a strong network among Democratic donors and activists.

In my humble view, this race comes down to basically two competing factors/questions:

Money and Organization.

Can the Democrats compete with the GOP’s financial and organizational advantages? As longtime readers know, I have been frustrated by my party’s lack of work to build a sustaining bench in Dade. One of the reasons why the GOP has been able to stem the tide down ballot in Miami-Dade is the literal talent pipeline and turnout operation that they’ve built. To this point, 3,000 more Republicans than Democrats voted in Tuesday’s primary. This is essentially a home game for the GOP, and there is a reason why the oddsmakers give home teams an edge. Along the same lines, I don’t think Taddeo can survive being outspent 2 or 3 to 1 — so whether grassroots and institutional Democrats step up to help close the money gap will go a long way to determining if the party can overcome the other factors.

Trump … Trump … Trump.

The counter balance to point one is the question of Trump, and that question itself has many layers. Does Trump drive base Democratic grassroots money and vote? Does Trump’s immigration decisions drive non-Cubans out to send a message — and/or, does Trump’s decision to stop Americans from recreationally traveling to Cuba drive enthusiasm with exile-era Cubans. NPA voters in this district tend to be more Democratic than in the rest of Florida — do they show up, and if they do, does Trump drive their vote? How Trump impacts the race isn’t a clear-cut question.

Sure, there are others — Can the Dems pick apart Diaz voting record effectively enough to disqualify him as a moderate? Is there Taddeo fatigue from her previous runs? How does the national Trumpcare debate impact the macro-level politics, or more specifically, the micropolitics of a district with high enrollment in the exchanges? And the big intangible: What crazy thing will happen in DC between now and late September, and what if anything will it mean? We all know something will happen, as surely it is the only thing we can bank on!

This is going to be a fun race to watch. Like all these special elections, it can be hard to draw too many conclusions from the outcome. That said, Dems have to prove they can win seats like this if there is a hope of winning a majority in the Senate anytime in the near future. Moreover, should the Dems win, they would have reason to be optimistic that more and more of these traditionally Miami Republican Hispanic districts both in the legislature and in Congress; and on the flipside if the GOP holds on, there is reason to believe there is still a very clear road map for moderate Republicans to carve out the necessary coalition to win these trending Democratic districts.

This is why you will see both sides go all-out.

Florida Senate District 40. Sept. 26, 2017. Put it on your radar.

Mary Barzee Flores enters race to succeed Illeana Ros-Lehtinen

Former state judge Mary Barzee Flores is the latest Democrat to run for the Congressional District 27 seat being vacated by Illeana Ros-Lehtinen next year.

“I’m running for Congress because I believe our politics and our politicians have gotten too small and the challenges we face are too big,” Barzee Flores said in a statement issued Wednesday. “I refuse to sit back and watch as tens of millions of Americans lose their health care, our public schools fall into ruin, our environment is ravaged, our heroes are neglected and disrespected, and our children’s futures are squandered away by stupidity and greed.”

A lifelong Miami resident, Barzee Flores spent 12 years working as a Federal Public Defender in the U.S. Southern District of Florida. In 2002, Mary left the Public Defenders office when she was elected, without opposition, to a seat on the Miami Circuit Court. After retiring from the bench in 2011, she was nominated by President Obama for a federal judgeship.

She never became a judge though after fellow Miami resident Marco Rubio blocked her nomination in the U.S. Senate. In her press release announcing her candidacy, Barzee Flores cites her past support for the ACLU and EMILY’s List, a group that elects pro-choice, women Democrats as reasons why.

Rubio said Barzee Flores wasn’t candid about her involvement in a case involving claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and that she wasn’t forthcoming enough about prior support for groups such as EMILY’s List. POLITICO reported last year that Rubio staffers said Barzee Flores gave conflicting answers about the groups to the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee and to the Judicial Nominating Commission, which recommends attorneys for the bench in Florida.

Other Republicans disagreed. Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Al Cardenas told POLITICO that Barzee Flores was “not a partisan pick.”

She enters an extremely crowded Democratic field in a seat that has been occupied by a Republican for the past 29 years. But CD 27 is a decidedly Democratic seat, with Hillary Clinton winning there by more than 20 points over Donald Trump in 2016.

State Representative David Richardson, state Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, Miami DEC member Michael Hepburn.

Dr. Maria Peiro is the only Republican to enter the contest.

The 27th includes all or portions of Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Key Biscayne, Miami, Miami Beach, Pinecrest, South Miami and Westchester.

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