Sunshine State News Blogs
From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., offered his thoughts on Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the gunman who attacked the Canadian Parliament on Wednesday. In his rampage, Zehaf-Bibeau, a recent convert to Islam, killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.
“Our neighbors to the north have a long history of standing by America in good times and bad,” Rubio said on Thursday. “Canada has been by America’s side in our struggle against violent jihadists. Since 9/11, Canadian servicemen and women have shed blood in the fight against Islamic extremism, and we stand with them during this difficult period and pledge our unwavering support as we join them in mourning the fallen.
“The attacks of recent days in Canada as well as the horrible attack on pedestrians, including Americans, on a Jerusalem street yesterday are yet another painful reminder that declaring wars to be over does not end them,” Rubio added. “Radical jihadists remain committed to waging war against anyone who does not share their warped ideology, which is why we must defeat them wherever they reside and work to reduce the risk of self-radicalization of individuals in our societies.”
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) launched a new TV ad on Thursday, hitting former Gov. Charlie Crist’s economic record. Polls show Crist, the Democratic nominee after spending most of his political life with the GOP, and Gov. Rick Scott running close.
In Tuesday’s debate with Scott, Crist brushed off attacks on his economic record, insisting he was not responsible for the bad times as the recession impacted more than Florida. The ad points to decisions Crist made as worsening the Sunshine State’s problems.
“Charlie made bad decisions that hurt people, raising taxes, cutting education and piling up debt,” the narrator of the ad says.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., teamed up with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., on Wednesday to chide U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s plans to send $150 million to the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA) over its role in actions directed against Israel. The senators pointed to three cases of rockets at a UNRWA facility in Gaza and wrote Kerry to demand taxpayer dollars won‘t be used against Israel.
“Given UNRWA’s record and the absence of an independent investigation into its actions during the conflict, we were dumbfounded when, on October 12th, you reiterated, without any qualification, that the United States would provide more than $150 million to UNRWA programs in Gaza,” the senators wrote Kerry on Wednesday. “This blind support sends the wrong message to an institution that has already become far too dependent on the largesse of the American taxpayer and repeatedly failed to ensure that its facilities and resources are not used by terrorists who wish to sow chaos and instability rather than aid the Palestinian people.
“The United States should assist the people of Gaza as they rebuild after yet another Hamas-caused conflict. But this support cannot come at the expense of Israel’s security,” the senators continued. “We will not support the provision of future U.S. assistance to entities or projects in Gaza unless the State Department assures Congress that UNRWA or the relevant recipient entity has imposed independently audited accountability measures to verifiably prevent any U.S. assistance from aiding, directly or indirectly, extremists’ efforts to re-arm or lay the groundwork for future attacks against Israel.”
Using his Allen West Guardian Fund PAC, former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., went to bat for Glo Smith, the Republican candidate running against U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., on Wednesday. West included Smith in his “races to watch” list in addition to the 14 candidates he endorsed.
“These men and women are precisely what our nation needs in positions of leadership,” West emailed supporters on Wednesday. “They bring fresh, new veteran and minority voices to the national debate, but most importantly they stand steadfast for our constitutional principles of a strong national defense, unfettered free market and a government controlled by the people -- not the other way around.”
West offered his supporters a quick introduction to Smith.
“Growing up in the poorest part of Jacksonville, Glo was no stranger to poverty as a child,” West wrote. “Before her mother remarried, their large family was living off a single mother's salary and was dependent upon government assistance. For years, Glo's mother relied on government provisions and commodities to feed and care for her children. Regardless of the financial hardship, Glo was determined to succeed, was inspired to establish her career as a public servant.
“Glo obtained a master's of business administration degree and launched a 30-year career in public service and entrepreneurship,” West added. “As an entrepreneur, Glo started a small business. In an effort to help others succeed, she developed curriculum for the University of North Florida's Small Business Resource Center.”
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani took to the stump for Gov. Rick Scott and lashed out at former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Democrat in the race, saying “I’ve never met someone in politics that I disrespect more than Charlie Crist.”
There is some bad blood from the 2008 presidential campaign when Giuliani relied heavily on Florida and Crist backed U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Still, this is a good boost for Scott and not just because of Giuliani’s leadership on 9/11. Giuliani is no conservative by any means. During his time in politics, he was pro-choice. In 1994, Giuliani famously endorsed then Gov. Mario Cuomo, D-N.Y., over Republican challenger George Pataki. The Conservative Party of New York State (CPNYS), the party of the Buckleys, fought Giuliani tooth and nail in the Empire State. Whatever we think of Giuliani, he is no knee-jerk GOP cheerleader and the gloves came off when he went after Crist.
Bill Herrle, the executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business’ (NFIB) Florida chapter, came out swinging at former Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday. Herrle pointed to Crist saying in Tuesday night’s debate against Gov. Rick Scott that he was for raising the minimum wage even if it led to job loss.
“Last night's debate proves that Charlie Crist is more out-of-touch with small business owners than ever before,” Herrle said. “His short-sighted policy positions are small business killers. When he blatantly stated that he doesnt care about the 50,000 workers who will lose their jobs when minimum wage is raised, it was crystal clear that he does not care about job creation, Floridas economy, and most importantly, the backbone of both job creation and Floridas economy - small business owners.
“Small business owners are overwhelmingly opposed to raising minimum wage,” Herrle continued. “In an NFIB/Florida survey of our small business owner-members in Florida: 88.6 percent oppose raising Floridas minimum wage to 10.10/hour; 61.4 percent would reconsider plans to hire workers if minimum wage were raised to $10.10/hour; 49.2 percent would consider laying off workers if minimum wage were raised to $10.10/hour
“The trickle down impact of a 27 percent increase in labor costs would be massive.,” Herrle added. “We heard from many small business owners through the survey who stated they would be forced to increase their own prices, lowering their sales and taking them out of competition with larger competitors. So many said they would have to learn how to function with fewer employees, and many would have to take on more of the work themselves rather than hiring additional employees. Many would be forced to reduce their workforces immediately.
“Charlie Crist doesnt care about Florida's small business owners or their employees,” Herrle concluded. “He didn't work for Florida last time he was governor, and it sounds like he plans to make things even worse if he's elected in November.”
Florida CFO Jeff Atwater holds a commanding lead over Democratic rival William Rankin according to a new poll.
St. Leo University released a poll of likely voters on Wednesday which shows 50 percent backing Atwater, 35 percent behind Rankin and the remaining 15 percent undecided.
The poll of 500 likely voters was taken from Oct. 16-Oct. 19 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is cruising to a second term according to a poll released on Wednesday.
A poll of likely voters from St. Leo University shows Putnam with 51 percent while Democrat Thad Hamilton takes 35 percent and 14 percent remain undecided.
The poll of 500 likely voters was taken from Oct. 16-Oct. 19 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi holds a solid lead over her rivals in a poll released on Wednesday from St. Leo University.
Bondi takes 47 percent of likely voters in the poll while former DCF Sec. George Sheldon garners 39 percent. Tallahassee attorney Bill Wohlsifer takes 6 percent on the Libertarian line while 8 percent remain undecided.
The poll of 500 likely voters was taken from Oct. 16-Oct. 19 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.
Former Gov. Charlie Crist has the lead over Gov. Rick Scott in a poll released on Wednesday.
The poll from St. Leo University shows Crist taking 43 percent with Scott within the margin of error at 40 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie garners 8 percent while 9 percent remain undecided. When Wyllie is taken out of the mix, Scott moves up to tie Crist with each candidate taking 45 percent.
“It appears as though Charlie Crist’s attacks against Rick Scott are working, as the race has swung away from the incumbent in the last few months,” said Frank Orlando, who teaches political science at Saint Leo University.
Orlando said Wyllie’s support could drop in the final days of the campaign which could help Scott.
“Pre-election polls tend to overstate support for third party candidates,” Orlando said. “When it comes time to cast their ballots, voters seem to settle on one of the two main parties for fear of ‘wasting’ their vote. It appears that Wyllie is drawing more support from Scott than Crist, and, if Wyllie is removed from the race, Scott gains 5 percent of the vote, while Crist only gains 2 percent and the poll is a dead heat.
“Despite the negative nature of the campaign, voters’ valuations of candidates haven’t really changed,” Orlando added. “This suggests that voters have had their minds made up for a while and that there is a very small group of undecided voters. The election seems certain to hinge on mobilization and the amount that Wyllie can pull voters from Scott.”
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) pounced on former Gov. Charlie Crist’s comment in Tuesday night’s debate with Gov. Rick Scott that a minimum wage hike was “worth it” even if it meant job loss.
“Charlie Crist is a career politician who said ‘it’s worth it’ to support a policy that would kill 50,000 Florida jobs,” said RPOF Chairwoman Leslie Dougher on Wednesday. “No wonder Charlie lost 832,000 jobs as governor. That’s bound to happen when you think ‘it’s worth it’ to lose jobs.”
In the ad, Atwater touts the passage of the law which ensured policyowners would receive their claims in a timely fashion.
"I can tell you in these past four years, 70,000 of our fellow Floridians turned to me, called me," Atwater says in the ad. "When they were at wits end ... we were able to provide them with $87 million in additional claims being paid."
Check out the ad below:
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) launched a new TV ad on Wednesday, hitting Democratic gubernatorial candidate former Gov. Charlie Crist. The ad hits Crist as a “career politician who didn’t believe in anything” with “no core values.” Crist draws fire in the ad for leaving the GOP in 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation before joining the Democrats in 2012.
“What if there was a politician who only believed in one thing: himself?” the narrator of the ad asks. “There is. Charlie Crist.”
From his perch on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about Cuba taking part in the seventh Summit of the Amercias which will be held in Panama. In the letter, which was written on Tuesday, Rubio accused the Obama administration of sending “mixed messages” on whether Cuba should take part in the summit.
“Allowing a country that is a habitual violator of human rights and has not allowed a free election in over 50 years would damage everything that the summit wishes to accomplish,” Rubio wrote. “Cuba should not be allowed to undermine the commitment to democracy made by the remaining nations of the Western Hemisphere during the summit process. Moreover, the United States should not stand idly by if Panama does indeed intend to invite Cuba to the summit.”
Rubio pointed to resolutions supporting democracy in the Western Hemisphere from the third Summit of the Americas held in Quebec City back in 2001 and insisted the U.S. should stand by them.
“I urge you to reaffirm the United States’ position that Cuba should only be welcome to participate in the summit when the Castro regime abandons its repression of the island’s population and to ensure that the nations of the Western Hemisphere are left with no doubt that the United States will stand firmly behind the formal commitment it made at the Quebec Summit,” Rubio wrote.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) launched a TV ad on Tuesday hitting U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia for gutting Medicare to fund President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law. Garcia is facing a tough challenge from Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo.
“Fact checkers call Garcia’s ads misleading and false,” the narrator of the ad says. “The truth? It was Garcia who supported Obamacare, cutting $700 billion from Medicare. And it was Garcia who supported a plan to raise the Social Security retirement age to 69, and cut benefits. Joe Garcia. False attacks. Failing seniors. Carlos Curbelo’s plan protects seniors. And will make sure seniors get the benefits they deserve.”
Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, also took a shot at Garcia.
“Corrupt Joe Garcia supports a plan that cut $700 billion from Medicare,” Prill said on Tuesday. “He has also made it clear he wants to raise the Social Security retirement age. South Florida seniors deserve better. Joe Garcia has not only embarrassed this district with his corruption scandals, now he’s failing our seniors.”
With two weeks left in the general election, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., intends to use his Reclaim America PAC and hit the stump for other Republicans -- and his path is taking him to the states which hold early contests to determine the next presidential nominee.
“I’m not up for re-election this year, but that doesn’t mean I’m sitting at home watching TV,” Rubio emailed conservatives on Tuesday night. “There is just too much at stake. With only 14 days to go, we must do everything we can to reclaim America from President Obama and Harry Reid’s liberal agenda. I’m hitting the road hard over the next few weeks to help conservative candidates all over the country, from Florida to New Hampshire to South Carolina to Iowa.”
In Iowa, which holds the first caucus, Rubio will campaign with Joni Ernst who is the Republican candidate looking to flip the seat held by retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. In New Hampshire, home of the first presidential primary, Rubio is backing former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who, after losing his seat in 2012, moved to the Granite State and is running against U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. South Carolina, where Rubio will stump on Wednesday, holds its primary right after New Hampshire.
Praising “candidates like Scott Brown in New Hampshire, Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Joni Ernst in Iowa, and Cory Gardner in Colorado,” Rubio called on Republicans to flip the Senate.
“We won’t win back the Senate and fire Harry Reid unless we win in these states," Rubio insisted. “The polls couldn’t be any closer.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., endorsed U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., for a third term at a campaign event in Tallahassee on Tuesday. Southerland is facing a top Democratic challenger in Gwen Graham.
“Not only is Steve Southerland a trusted colleague in Washington, he’s my friend,” Rubio said. “I’m proud to support Steve because he’s a respected conservative voice in Congress who’s fighting hard to create jobs, grow Florida’s economy, and shrink federal bureaucracy. North and Northwest Florida families need a principled leader like Steve Southerland in Congress.”
“Senator Rubio’s support means a lot to me,” said Southerland. “We’ve fought many battles together on behalf of the state of Florida. This race really comes down to which candidate represents the values of our district -- values I’ve lived my entire life. That won’t change if I am blessed to return to Congress for another two years.”
The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) announced on Tuesday it was backing Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi for a second term.
“Attorney General Bondi has been a strong supporter of upholding existing laws and supporting new legislation to protect animals from cruelty and abuse,” said Sara Amundson, the executive director of the HSLF. “A vote to return Pam Bondi to the attorney general’s office is a vote for the humane treatment of all animals.”
The HSLF praised Bondi’s record on animal issues, including cracking down on dog importation, reporting greyhound injuries to the public and promoting pet adoption.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be hitting the campaign trail with Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday in South Florida. Besides the many New Yorkers who live in the Sunshine State, Giuliani focused much of his 2008 presidential campaign in Florida.
Scott and Giuliani are scheduled to campaign in Doral and Miami on Wednesday.
This is the second big-name Republican to campaign with Scott this week. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., hit the campaign trail with Scott on Monday.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican super-PAC, waded into North Florida on Tuesday, announcing plans to spend $600,000 against Democrat Gwen Graham who is running against U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla.
The new ads try to link Graham to Beltway Democrats like President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. In recent days, Graham has tried to distance herself from her party’s leadership, including saying she would not vote for Pelosi to be speaker.
“Gwen Graham can try to masquerade as independent but North Florida voters won’t be fooled when she’s bankrolled by Washington Democrats,” said Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for Congressional Leadership Fund, on Tuesday. “North Florida families and seniors know that a vote for Gwen Graham is a vote for President Obama’s policies that are costing them more.”
The American Farm Bureau presented U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney with its “Friend of Agriculture” Award at a meeting this week in Wauchula.
“Congressman Rooney has worked tirelessly on behalf of farmers, ranchers and growers not just in Florida, but across the country,” said John Hoblick, the president of Florida Farm Bureau. “He was a driving force behind a new federal effort to combat citrus greening disease, which threatens to wipe out Florida’s citrus industry. He has been a leading voice to protect Florida agriculture from costly, unnecessary regulation. Congressman Rooney has truly been a friend to Florida’s agriculture community, and we’re proud to present him with this award.”
“The farmers, ranchers and growers are the lifeblood not just of Florida’s heartland, but of our nation,” Rooney said. “They produce citrus, beef, dairy, vegetables and everything in between – and if they don’t farm, we don’t eat. I’m honored to represent Florida’s farmers in Washington, and will keep working to make sure they can continue to provide us with a safe, affordable and abundant food supply.”
The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce (JAX Chamber) announced on Tuesday it opposes Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana in Florida.
“Passage of Amendment 2 will produce uncertainty for small businesses at a time when we are coming out of one of the biggest recessions in decades,” said Ed Burr, the chair of government affairs for the JAX Chamber. “Businesses, especially small businesses, need a climate that increases productivity and limits risks and Amendment 2 does the opposite.”
Burr also pointed to the “Charlotte’s Web” bill passed by the Legislature and insisted the proposal was poorly worded and ambigious.
“The JAX Chamber considers Amendment 2 to be unnecessary and does not support the precedent of amending Florida’s Constitution for changes that can be made legislatively,” Burr said.
For Amendment 2 to pass, it needs 60 percent support on the November ballot.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Monday he will introduce a bill imposing a temporary travel ban on Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone nationals due to those nations being impacted by Ebola, shutting down any new visas. Rubio plans to bring up the bill in November when the Senate reconvenes. The measure would end the ban until the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) clears those nations.
“While Ebola’s deadly reach has proven to be a complex and unique international challenge, the many uncertainties surrounding this virus continue to threaten U.S. national security,” said Rubio on Monay. “Our biggest priority is ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place to limit the spread of Ebola, contain it at the source, and protect Americans.
“We must take any and all necessary precautions to contain this virus – and common sense restrictions on travel from countries now confronting this epidemic is an important step,” Rubio continued. “The most effective way to combat this deadly virus is to address it at its source. This ban on issuance of visas does not mean we will be completely cutting off the affected countries from the outside world. We must continue to increase our assistance to those countries as they struggle to contain this outbreak. That is, ultimately, the only way we will be able to stop this outbreak and keep Americans safe from this horrible disease.”
Florida TaxWatch released a study on Tuesday looking at the important role intermodal centers play in developing the Sunshine State’s economy.
"Florida is uniquely poised to move goods more efficiently than our neighboring states and other competitors," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. "Expanding Florida's intermodal points will allow the state to more efficiently transfer goods and even people between seas, roads, rails, air, and space."
"Recent additions of new and improved intermodal centers will have a great economic impact on Florida's economy and consumers," said Jerry Parrish, Florida TaxWatch’s chief economist. "The centers will add to Florida's economy by providing high-wage jobs to Floridians, while also reducing the cost of goods purchased by Florida consumers."
The study can be read here.
Former Florida state Sen. Tom Slade, best known for leading the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), throughout much of the 1990s when the GOP surged to take control of the state, passed away on Monday at age 78. Slade had suffered heart failure last week and was being hospitalized at Orange Park Medical Center.
First elected to the Florida House in 1962 and to the Florida Senate in 1966, Slade witnessed the GOP’s rise to prominence in the Sunshine State. In the same year Slade was elected to the Senate, Claude Kirk became the first Republican to be elected governor of Florida in almost 100 years. But things took a turn for the worse for the GOP in 1970 when Kirk lost out to Reubin Askew for a second term and Bill Cramer was beat out by Lawton Chiles in the U.S. Senate race. Slade also had a rough 1970, losing his bid to become state treasurer and being in the same plane crash that injured Bill Young at the Tallahassee Regional Airport.
Slade resurfaced in the 1990s, chairing the Florida Tax and Budget Commission in 1990 and heading up the RPOF in 1993. During his time in charge of the RPOF, Republicans won the governorship under Jeb Bush, won control of both chambers of the Legislature and took a majority of seats in the state congressional delegation. More than 15 years after Slade left the RPOF, those majorities are still in place.
In 1999, Slade ran to be chairman of the Republican National Committee but came up short.
A new poll shows the Florida gubernatorial contest is a dead heat.
On Monday, Rasmussen Reports released a poll of likely voters which shows Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist deadlocked with 47 percent each. Only 2 percent back other candidates while 4 percent remain undecided. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie was not included in the poll.
The poll of 1,114 likely Florida voters was taken from Oct. 15-17 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
After its board of governors met over the weekend in Tampa, the Florida Medical Association (FMA) issued a statement on Monday, praising Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Health for its Ebola readiness efforts.
“The Florida Medical Association wishes to acknowledge the high level of engagement by the elected officials of Florida, especially Gov. Rick Scott,” said Dr. Alan Pillersdorf, the president of the FMA. “We are also grateful for the leadership of the Florida Department of Health and State Surgeon General John Armstrong, M.D.”
The FBA also offered the following recommendations:
1. An ongoing educational campaign on Ebola infection coordinated by the Florida Department of Health based on current science and emerging evidence-based practices.
2. Isolation measures should be instituted for all individuals suspected of Ebola infection and continued until these individuals are declared free of infection based on current science and emerging evidence-based practices.
3. Medical evaluation, transportation, and care of individuals suspected or proven to be infected by Ebola will be based on current and emerging guidelines as well as best practices.”
Sunshine State News hit the national airwaves on Monday. Your humble blogger appeared on “Midpoint” with Ed Berliner on NewsmaxTV to talk about the U.S. Senate races as Republicans look to wrest control of that chamber from the Democrats.
Former Gov. Luis Fortuño, R-Puerto Rico, and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferré appeared in a new Spanish language TV ad for Gov. Rick Scott. The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) launched the new ad on Monday.
“He’s a Republican," Ferré says in the ad via a translation provided by the RPOF.
“And he’s a Democrat,” Fortuño replies.
“Agreeing on anything isn’t easy,” Ferré says.
“But here's why we agree that Governor Rick Scott deserves your vote," Fortuño says.
“Scott’s working on improving our state’s transportation and that creates jobs," Ferré notes.
“On education, Scott secured historic funding, pay raises for teachers and lowered tuition that Charlie Crist increased," Fortuño says.
After running for the Democratic nomination in the 2010 U.S. Senate contest, Ferré backed Scott in that year’s gubernatorial nomination. Ferré endorsed former Florida Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich over Crist in the primary earlier this year.