Sunshine State News Blogs


Gov. Rick Scott announced on Thursday that GE’s Energy Management is launching a new facility in Clearwater, investing $50 million and creating 250 new jobs.

“General Electric Energy Management’s investment in Clearwater is great news for Florida families,” Scott said. “The creation of 250 jobs means more Floridians will be able to provide for their families and pursue their dreams in the Sunshine State. Florida businesses have already created more than 620,000 private-sector jobs since December 2010, and we will continue to create an opportunity economy where every Floridian can live the American dream.”

“Thanks to the support from Gov. Scott, Commissioner Roche and Mayor Cretekos, we are well-positioned to more quickly deliver improved outcomes for our customers and solve some of the world’s toughest energy problems,” said GE Energy Management CEO Mark Begor. “From this facility, we’ll serve customers as close as Duke Energy right here in Florida, and as far away as Southeast Asia and South America.”
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From his seat on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee’s Health Subcommittee, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., took aim at President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law on Thursday.

Buchanan noted that the health-care law led to cuts to Medicare Advantage which impacted 54,000 seniors in his district and “1.4 million over that” in Florida. Buchanan said the medical community was “very disillusioned” with these cuts, noting they were losing patients and being “consolidated by hospitals.”

“I’m very concerned about these cuts and the impact it will have on our seniors,” Buchanan said, noting that the program is losing $300 billion over the next 10 years.

In hearings on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Buchanan demanded to know if Medicare Advantage was being cut due to Obama's health-care law.
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A new poll shows President Barack Obama continues to sink in Florida despite carrying it in 2008 and 2012, something which could factor into November’s elections, as he loses independent voters.  

A poll from Quinnipiac University released on Thursday shows a majority -- 52 percent -- of those surveyed disapprove of Obama’s performance in office while 44 percent approve of the job he has done. In a Quinnipiac poll released on May 1, 50 percent of Florida voters disapproved of Obama’s job performance while 46 percent approved of it.

Obama has kept the Democratic base, with 84 percent of his party approving of his performance while 13 percent disapprove. Republicans continue to break against Obama with only 7 percent approving of his job performance while 92 percent disapprove. According to the poll, Obama has lost independents in Florida with 54 percent disapproving of his job performance while 40 percent approve of it.

The poll shows a major gender gap in Florida. A majority of Florida men -- 59 percent -- disapprove of the job Obama’s done while 38 percent approve of it. Women are more divided, with 49 percent approving of Obama’s work in the White House while 46 percent disapprove of it

The poll of 1,251 registered Florida voters was taken from July 17-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.

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A poll from Quinnipiac University released on Thursday finds former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the easy favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, ahead of her Republican rivals in Florida, the largest swing state on the electoral map. The poll shows Clinton besting her possible Republican opponents, including two from the Sunshine State.

"Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be taking some criticism recently in the news media and among some liberal Democratic precincts, but nothing has changed among average voters in Florida where she remains queen of the political prom," said Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, on Thursday.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., does best against Clinton in the poll but he comes up short, losing 49 percent to 42 percent. The poll shows no other Republican keeps within single digits of Clinton. The Democrat takes a majority of voters -- 53 percent -- against U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who garners 39 percent. Clinton does slightly better against U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., beating him 53 percent to 37 percent. Matched against Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., Clinton routs the Republicans, 54 percent to 33 percent. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., keeps it a little closer but Clinton still leads 51 percent to 38 percent.

"Secretary Clinton leads the Republicans against whom she is matched by double digits with the exception of former Gov. Bush who trails her by 7 points," Brown said. "Inside the Beltway they may be talking about Mrs. Clinton's potential weaknesses should she run in 2016. But at this point in Florida, the nation's largest presidential swing state, her assets overwhelm any vulnerabilities."

The poll of 1,251 registered Florida voters was taken from July 17-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.
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Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is headed for a landslide victory in the Florida Democratic presidential primary in 2016, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday.

Clinton leads the Democratic pack with 67 percent. Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., are tied in distant second with 8 percent each. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., garners 1 percent. Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Md., and former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, D-Mont., take below 1 percent.

The poll of 457 Florida Democrats was taken from July 17-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percent.
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Two favorite sons lead the pack of Republican presidential candidates in the Sunshine State for 2016 in a poll from Quinnipiac University released on Thursday.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., leads with 21 percent followed by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in second with 18 percent. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, takes third with 10 percent followed by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., with 8 percent. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., follows with 7 percent while Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., takes 6 percent. Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, garners 5 percent. Two candidates from Wisconsin -- Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan -- take 2 percent each while three candidates -- Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., take 1 percent each.

This marks a bit of a shift from a Quinnipiac poll released in May which had Bush out front with 27 percent, Paul in second with 14 percent and Rubio in third with 11 percent.

The poll of 451 Florida Republicans was taken from July 17-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percent.
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Florida TaxWatch released a report on Thursday showcasing the increased number of jobs in the Sunshine State and insisting it shows the economy is on the rebound.
 
"Florida's economy is strengthening every day thanks to the policies enacted by the state Legislature and governor, who have made job creation a priority for Floridians," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. "More Floridians are working in 2014 than ever before."
 
"The increase in jobs for the first six months of 2014 shows that our economy is stable and growing," said Jerry Parrish, Florida TaxWatch’s chief economist. "These new jobs will further benefit Florida by increasing the state's sales and use tax revenues, due to more Floridians having more disposable income."

The report can be read here.
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After former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in next month’s primary, released a TV ad attacking Gov. Rick Scott on education on Wednesday, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) struck back with an ad of its own.

The RPOF’s ad attacks Crist’s record on education spending and notes media reports calling the Democrat’s ad “misleading.”

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Dwight Bullard isn't about to be used by anybody, even the woman gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist chose as his running mate before the primary.

Sources close to the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee claim Annette Taddeo wants the state senator from Miami to replace her as chair of the county party. It's a "peace offering" for the African-American community, they say, because Taddeo knows Bullard is "beloved by the community."

But, wait! He shouldn't get too comfortable.

If Charlie doesn't win, Taddeo wants her old job back and it's "take a hike, Dwight."

Read Leslie Wimes' revealing Wednesday Women on the Move column, "Annette Taddeo Tries To Appease African-Americans By Pushing Dwight Bullard As A Place Holder?"

Bullard could have the job, apparently, as long as Taddeo can "waltz back in" if she and Charlie don't go all the way to Tallahassee in November.

So much for the importance of the black community.

Wimes asked Bullard if he could accept the position as a maybe-temporary, place-holder job. Here's what he told her:

"My commitment to the party goes beyond just the primary. Any leadership position I take on is going to be 100 percent me. I’m not a mouthpiece for any particular candidate. I have core principles and values and those will be reflected in my leadership. That being said, I still stand by my support of Sen. Nan Rich."

Say what you want about Sen. Dwight Bullard, just don't ever question his principles or commitment.

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Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, who is leaving the Florida House to focus on heading up the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, is backing attorney and Navy veteran Paul Renner over banker Jay Fant to replace him.

"Paul fought for America in Desert Storm and Afghanistan, and he fought crime as a state prosecutor,” said Davis on Wednesday. “He's the proven, trusted leader we need fighting for us in Tallahassee.”

“It is an honor to receive state Rep. Daniel Davis’ support of my campaign for the seat that he has represented so well on behalf of our community,” said Renner. “Rep. Davis has been a strong conservative leader for us in Tallahassee, and, if elected, I look forward to continuing to expand upon his great work in Tallahassee. Additionally, I will work closely with Daniel in his capacity as CEO of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce to bring new business and high-paying jobs to our region.”

For more on how conservatives are breaking down in the GOP primary contest, keep an eye on Sunshine State News on Thursday.
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Former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in next month’s primary despite spending most of his political career in the GOP, launched a new television ad on Wednesday, hitting Gov. Rick Scott on education.

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“‘Doorway’ is about our schools -- because if we want to build a better Florida, we need to start with our kids,” Crist insisted on Wednesday. “Rick Scott cut education spending by $1.3 billion, hurting their chances at a better future. How can he sleep at night?”

Florida Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, the chairman of Scott's campaign, quickly fired back.

"Instead of releasing an education policy he said would be ready by June, Charlie Crist is resorting to more false attacks against Governor Scott,” Thrasher said. “It was Crist who slashed state education funding by $550 per student. Rick Scott has cleaned up his predecessor’s mess, funding schools $370 more per student in state funds than Crist’s last budget. Charlie Crist’s fuzzy math won’t fool Floridians."
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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., pointed to two conflicting federal appeals court rulings over subsidies in President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law and said it proved the law was badly written. On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in a 2-1 decision that the IRS overextended subsidies for Americans who bought health care through the federal government’s online marketplace. But, later in the day, in another case, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the subsidies, ensuring the matter will be examined higher up the federal judiciary ladder.

“Once again, a court ruling against Obamacare has reminded us that this law was poorly conceived, poorly written, and has been poorly executed by an Obama administration that believes it can just make up and change the rules as it goes,” Rubio said on Tuesday. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg with a law that’s also destined to either crush patients with obscenely high costs, lead to a taxpayer bailout of health insurance companies, or both. Obamacare is a bad piece of public policy that needs to be repealed and replaced.

“With two conflicting appellate court rulings on Obamacare today, I reaffirm my belief that this law ultimately will fall apart,” Rubio added.
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Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera is increasingly going on the attack as he looks to defend Gov. Rick Scott against former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite in next month’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Having hit Crist earlier in the week on his economic record, Lopez-Cantera went after the new Democrat on Wednesday for supporting more ties to Cuba.

“While Gov. Scott has been building upon the 600,000 jobs created under his term and sharing his vision to grow ‘Jobs for the Next Generation’ this week, the only jobs plan Charlie Crist has offered is for Florida to do business with Cuba, a state sponsor of terror,” Lopez-Cantera said on Wednesday. “Despite the Castro brothers’ increased repression of the Cuban people, orchestration of Nicolas Maduro’s brutal actions in Venezuela, and growing relationship with Vladimir Putin, Charlie Crist's continued advocacy for greater engagement with the Cuban dictatorship exposes a flippant and shallow attitude that is not only a very worrisome world view, but it is not in Florida’s best interest."

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A poll from Quinnipiac University released Wednesday shows a close race in the Florida gubernatorial contest with the Libertarian candidate proving to be a major factor.

The poll shows former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite to win the Democratic primary next month despite spending most of his political life as a Republican, leading with 39 percent with Gov. Rick Scott right behind him with 37 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie takes 9 percent.

When Wyllie is left out of the poll, Crist’s lead increases. In that scenario Crist takes 45 percent while Scott garners 40 percent.

In both cases, Crist’s list has dwindled from a Quinnipiac poll taken at the end of April which found him beating Scott 48 percent to 38 percent.

"The campaign to be Florida's next governor tightens slightly and takes on a new dimension with a third candidate in the running," said Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, on Wednesday. "Libertarian Adrian Wyllie is not, at this point, a serious contender to win the governorship. But he may have a great deal to say about who does win."

When former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich replaces Crist in the poll, Scott leads 41 percent to to 34 percent.

The poll finds the two leading candidates are upside down. While 43 percent of voters view Scott favorably, 48 percent see him as unfavorable. Only 40 percent of those surveyed approve of Scott’s performance in Tallahassee while 45 percent disapprove of it. While 40 percent see Crist in a favorable light, 42 percent view him as unfavorable. Wyllie is largely unknown, with 92 percent of those surveyed saying they don’t know enough about him to have an opinion.

"Virtually no one knows much about Wyllie, but there are a lot of Floridians who aren't keen on either of the major party candidates, Gov. Rick Scott or former Gov. Charlie Christ," Brown said.

The poll of 1,251 registered Florida voters was taken from July 17-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.

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Florida ranks toward the top in the country for its road transportation, according to a July report by the National Economic Council and the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.

The report found the Sunshine State ranked at the top in several measures of road transportation.

Florida's drivers also pay less than drivers in any other state to maintain their vehicles as a result of Florida's good road transportation, ultimately resulting in around $180 in savings for drivers every year. 

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, only 4 percent of the state's roads were found in disrepair and 17 percent of Florida's bridges are obsolete or deficient.  

Florida's sunny climate also contributes to the quality of its roads since the state doesn't experience many freezes which can cause roads to crack.

The Sunshine State does, however, have high tolls and user fees, but transportation experts say Florida's expansive toll system, taxes and user fees guarantee that infrastructure funds keep on coming.
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Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., continues to go all out for U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who is running against U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, R-Ark., in November.

West sent out an email to supporters on Tuesday in which he agrees with national pundits’ assessment that the GOP needs to beat Pryor to flip the Senate.

“If Tom Cotton loses, Harry Reid will remain majority leader and Mark Pryor will continue to be a rubber stamp for Barack Obama in the United States Senate," West insisted, before noting Reid’s PAC had already spent $1.4 million in the race and various Democratic and union groups have spent an additional $2.5 million in Arkansas, mostly used in attack ads.

“I wish I could tell you that these attack ads aren't having an effect – but they are,” West continued. “In fact, the latest polling in this Senate race shows the race as a tossup. It could go either way.

“As a fellow veteran and former member of Congress, I know what it's like to be under fire. And so does Tom Cotton,” West added. “The way to defend the Constitution is to tip the scales away from Obama and his socialist agenda and back toward conservative leadership. We can do this by aggressively campaigning for candidates like Tom Cotton. I'm preparing a massive barrage of advertising that's designed to put liberal super-PACs in retreat and carry our slate of conservative candidates to victory."

West has left open the door to a political comeback in 2016 and has been remaining politically active through his Allen West Guardian Fund PAC.
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A live event against the Common Core State Standards will be broadcast in movie theaters across the country on Tuesday. 

"We Will Not Conform," which will be hosted by conservative radio host Glenn Beck, promises to be an interactive experience where theatergoers can voice their opinions and concerns about the controversial education standards. Beck will be joined by conservative commentators like Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin and former Republican Party of Texas Vice Chair David Barton, both of whom have been staunch critics of the standards.

At the end of the broadcast, the event promises to give participants a "unified plan of action" to combat the standards. 

From the event page:

"To Common Core supporters who thought they would win through silence, this night will be a very loud wake-up call. If you are sick of the endless rhetoric, futile debates, and useless advice about changing the system at the ballot box, then WE WILL NOT CONFORM is the event you've been waiting for."

 

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The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) launched a new line of attack on Tuesday against former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite in next month’s Democratic gubernatorial primary despite holding three statewide offices as a Republican. Defending Gov. Rick Scott, the RPOF launched a new webpage insisting Crist has offered nothing in terms of policy proposals.

“While Rick Scott has outlined his vision for Florida’s future with five policy roll-outs so far, Charlie Crist has spent his summer doing nothing except embarrassing himself with false attacks,” said Leslie Dougher, the chairwoman of the RPOF. “Random outbursts of public comment are not policy proposals, and Floridians don’t want a governor who’s only capable of name-calling and photo ops – we’ve got plenty of that in Washington.”

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Trying to catch former Gov. Charlie Crist in next month’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich compared him to Gov. Rick Scott on Monday. Noting Crist had spent most of his political life in the GOP, Rich insisted he and Scott were two peas in a pod. Rich pointed to a video of Scott putting off answering questions and compared it to Crist’s refusal to debate her.

“I’m sure you’ve seen the video by now – Gov. Rick Scott standing for nearly a minute, seemingly unable to answer questions any governor ought to be able to answer,” Rich insisted on Monday. "When you pair it with Charlie Crist’s refusal to debate, you get a picture of what our Republican governors think of voters – one who can’t answer, one who won’t. Florida deserves better.”
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Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is looking to expand even more into the new media world. Building off his “Ron Paul Channel,” the three-time presidential candidate launched “Voices of Liberty” on Tuesday.

“As Voices of Liberty, we further amplify the messages of the freedom movement through engaging videos and insightful news coverage,” Paul announced on Tuesday. “There are some major changes coming that will allow you to become an integral part of the movement by making your voice truly matter.

“Voices of Liberty will offer more video, audio and editorial from well-known champions of liberty as well as everyday citizens in the freedom movement,” Paul and his team continued. “We are also producing new shows that offer valuable information you can use in your daily life -- from learning and practicing your constitutional rights to the future of monetary policy, business and technology.

Hoping to become the “go-to social platform for liberty-minded people,” Paul and his team hope to take advantage of new media to continue to spread their message.

“The Internet has allowed the message of liberty to spread like wildfire and that’s why we believe the restoration of liberty has a real fighting chance,” Paul insisted. “As a project spearheaded by me and the Voices of Liberty team, we have the power to accomplish our goals. And with your help, we will be a formidable voice that influences elections, strikes down useless legislation and promotes social awareness on the issues that matter most to us all.

“We’ve had enough of the unjustified wars, unconstitutional surveillance, extrajudicial drone assassinations, the continual weakening of the dollar, draconian drug laws, and the outright lies and deceptive doublespeak spouted by politicians with clandestine agendas,” Paul continued. “We want to provide a brighter future for generations to come by ending these trillion-dollar wars, restoring economic prosperity, instituting real government transparency and ridding our country of warrantless spying on our private communications, among many other things.”
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Facing a primary challenge from former Navy officer Ryman Shoaf next month, U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., brought out the First Coast’s GOP leadership behind him at an event on Monday.

Crenshaw unveiled the endorsements of a host of Republicans including state Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Jacksonville, state Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham and Atlantic Beach Mayor Carolyn Woods.

"The beaches are one of the jewels of Northeast Florida – a great location for local businesses ... beautiful natural resources, and so much more,” Crenshaw said. “It's all the result of strong leadership right here on the ground from our mayors, council members, state officials, and devoted citizens.

“Like me, they are committed to supporting the policies that make this region an attractive place to do business, and a great place to live, raise a family, and visit,” Crenshaw added. “And, from me, they will continue to receive the support they need to make sure Northeast Florida shines for generations to come.”
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U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., told the Washington Post on Monday that he supports same-sex marriage and applauded a Monroe County judge who struck down the state constitutional amendment passed by voters recognizing only traditional marriage in Florida.

“As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage," Jolly told the Post  "But as a matter of constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state. Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County circuit judge.”
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The media were buzzing last week after a Monroe County judge ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in the Florida Keys, but due to an automatic stay as a result of an appeal by Attorney General Pam Bondi, Judge Luis Garcia has denied the request of same-sex couples to marry beginning Tuesday.

Garcia denied a motion for same-sex couples to begin marrying on Tuesday after Bondi submitted papers asking Garcia to keep the automatic stay in place until the appeal had been dealt with.

It could be weeks or months until a decision is reached. 


This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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The Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) announced on Monday it was backing Gov. Rick Scott for a second term. On Monday, Scott kicked off a two-week tour of Florida, calling to make the elimination of the manufacturing sales tax -- one of the governor’s chief legislative issues back in 2013 -- permanent.
 
“Florida is poised to capture tremendous growth from the expansion of exports and imports, the new investments of existing businesses, the attraction of direct foreign investment and new businesses, the enhancement of Floridians’ skill sets, and the investment in manufacturing, Gov. Scott is positioning Florida to excel in all of these areas,” the MAF announced in a statement. “Never before has Florida had a governor work so hard to make the American dream come true for everyone.

“Gov. Scott has made a difference in every corner of the business climate in Florida,” the MAF added. “That translates directly to more well-paying jobs and a higher quality of life for Floridians. His record speaks for itself.”
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With Gov. Rick Scott launching a tour of Florida to highlight job creation on Monday, his running mate, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, came out swinging against former Gov. Charlie Crist. Despite spending most of his political life as a Republican, Crist is the favorite to win the Democratic gubernatorial primary next month.

“As we launch our ‘Jobs for the Next Generation’ policy today and commit to initiatives as soon as next legislative session to grow more manufacturing jobs – Charlie Crist's record of economic failure stands out,” Lopez-Cantera said on Monday. “On Charlie Crist's watch, Florida lost over 800,000 jobs, 100,000 of which were in the manufacturing sector. Floridians were hurting, and Charlie didn't even try to stay and fix the problem. He wanted to run away to Washington. The record is clear – Charlie Crist's economic plan is and has always been empty promises. Gov. Scott doesn't just talk – he takes action. That's why Florida job creators have been able to add more than 600,000 new private-sector jobs since he took office – and our ‘Jobs for the Next Generation’ initiatives will help grow and keep our manufacturing sector working."
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Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., called President Barack Obama “indirectly responsible” for Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 being shot down over Ukraine in a blog post on Friday.

"The blood on Vladimir Putin’s hands was poured by Barack Obama, who is indirectly responsible, accountable and no different than Neville Chamberlain’s weakness in the face of the 20th century maniacal dictator Adolf Hitler," West posted on his blog.

"So much for no drama Obama," West continued. "He is purposefully creating drama globally."

While he is not running in 2014, West has left the door open to a political comeback in 2016.
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From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.,weighed in on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 being shot down over Ukraine. Rubio called on the U.S. to impose sanctions on the Putin regime in Russia in response.

“The attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is a senseless act,” Rubio said on Friday. "I mourn the loss of innocent life, including at least one American and citizens from so many allies and friends of the United States. I agree with President Obama that there should be an independent investigation, but this is not just about an investigation or securing the crash site.

“Even as we investigate the source of the missile system involved and what support was provided to those who fired it, we need to remember that Vladimir Putin’s unlawful annexation of Crimea and his ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine have brought us to this point and have now cost the lives of nearly 300 innocent civilians,” Rubio added. “As I said earlier this week after President Obama announced the latest round of U.S. sanctions against Russia, American officials continue to issue hollow threats, while Russia sows instability as it flagrantly violates Ukraine’s sovereignty by providing weapons and assistance to separatists.

“This horrific event is a terrible reminder of why clear, decisive and morally unambiguous American leadership is so desperately needed in the world,” Rubio continued. “It is time for the United States and our allies to impose sectoral sanctions on President Putin and his government, especially against the energy, defense and banking sectors, and significantly increase our support, including lethal assistance, to the government of Ukraine which has shown itself to be the only responsible actor throughout this crisis. The civilized world cannot continue to stand idly by while these types of flagrant violations of basic humanity and international order continue.”

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Gov. Rick Scott plans to focus the next two weeks on his political bread-and-butter: job creation. On Monday, Scott kicks off his “Jobs for the Next Generation” tour in Pompano Beach and Boca Raton. Scott is calling for the permanent elimination of the manufacturing sales tax and offering a plan for STEM teachers to work with businesses in summer residences as he looks to tie education to the changing economy.  

“In order for Florida to remain a global hub for business, we have to make sure advanced industries are able to thrive and continue to create jobs and diversify our economy,” Scott said on Sunday. “That means developing a well-educated workforce, eliminating roadblocks for job creators and investing in our research institutions. Florida has come a long way, but we have a long way to go – and focusing on jobs for the next generation will ensure that we continue to create long-lasting, high-wage, more resilient careers."
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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, continues to remain active in Iowa, home of the first presidential primary. From his perch at Reclaim America PAC, over the weekend, Rubio called on supporters to support Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst who is running for an open U.S. Senate seat against U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa.

“The good news is that Democrats failed to overturn the recent Hobby Lobby decision on Wednesday,” Rubio emailed supporters on Saturday. “The bad news? Democrats are still waging a war on your religious freedom. But you can stop them by helping elect Joni Ernst.

“Right now, Joni Ernst is in a dead heat with her liberal opponent for the United States Senate in Iowa,” Rubio continued. Calling her a “conservative leader,” Rubio said electing Ernst would help “take back the Senate and stop the attacks on your religious freedom.”

“Liberal Democrats like Joni's opponent, Bruce Braley, continue to assault religious freedom in our country,” Rubio insisted. “They hate the idea that government isn't the end-all, be-all. They laugh at the notion of individual liberty, and look for ways to undermine it. Our country was founded on a commitment to protect religious freedom. Harry Reid wants to take us a step backward by overturning Hobby Lobby, and liberals like Bruce Braley would help him do it.”
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As tensions continue to rise in the Middle East, Gov. Rick Scott released a statement at the end of last week in support of Israel

"I stand firmly with our ally Israel and unequivocally support Israel's right to defend herself from vicious terrorist attacks launched by Hamas and other terrorist organizations,” Scott said on Friday. “While the Middle East is in turmoil, Israel remains an island of stability and democracy. As home to one of the largest Jewish populations outside of Israel, Florida has a special relationship with Israel. It was my honor and privilege to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu during my
trade mission to Israel, and I am proud to offer Israel my solidarity and support during this difficult time."
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