Sunshine State News Blogs
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) took off the gloves on Thursday and went after Democratic congressional hopeful Gwen Graham who is challenging U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla.
The NRCC noted Graham, the daughter of former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham, has accepted money from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talk-show host Jerry Springer and prominent Democratic fundraiser and trial lawyer John Morgan. The NRCC pointed to Morgan facing accusations of DUI and attacking a police officer in the late 1990s.
“The folks who want Gwen Graham in Congress look like the cast of 'Celebrity Rehab' and not hard-working Florida families,” said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC. “If Gwen is already cozying up to shady characters now, there’s no telling who she will sell out Florida’s vote to if sent to Washington.”
Gov. Rick Scott came to Jacksonville on Thursday morning to announce that his proposed budget, which will be fully released next week, will include $30 million for workforce training, mostly focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Increased STEM education and training has been one of Scott’s chief focuses in Tallahassee.
“Today’s announcement of $30 million for a new STEM workforce training initiative as part of the ‘It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget’ is great news for Florida families,” Scott said. “Pursuing a great career often means having the skills needed by employers who are creating jobs – especially in STEM-related fields. With these dollars, we will provide access to training resources for both job seekers and employers, while also providing scholarships to Floridians wishing to pursue STEM and other great careers at Florida’s state colleges and vocational centers. This strategic investment will no doubt provide Florida families with even more job opportunities so they can live the American dream.”
Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., is turning up the heat on former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November.
Noting Crist had been a Republican for most of his political life, West took to his blog this week to bash the former governor as a “shape-shifting chameleon” and noted he just brought Jim Messina from President Barack Obama’s campaign team on board.
“President Barack Obama’s campaign manager is signing on to help former Republican Charlie Crist return to the Florida governor’s office as a Democrat,” West wrote. “Jim Messina is joining Crist’s campaign as a senior strategic adviser, providing big-picture advice as the race gets under way. Messina joins another Obama alum, ad maker Jim Margolis, in the effort to aid Crist.
“Let me give you a brief introduction to Florida’s Mr.Tan Man,” West continued. “Charlie Crist was the Republican governor of Florida not too long ago. In 2008 he pledged his support to one GOP presidential nominee, then switched to Senator John McCain. Crist was all over the media as many felt he was positioning himself to be the vice presidential selection with Senator McCain. That did not happen. Subsequently, Governor Crist became unsatisfied with being the chief executive of the Sunshine State and decided to run for U.S. Senate. When Senator Mel Martinez decided to resign, Governor Crist appointed his former chief of staff. George LeMieux, to fill the seat -- which many saw as a place holder move.
“What Crist didn’t count on was the challenge of former GOP Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio in that Senate race,” West added. “Crist dismissed Rubio until the once 40-point gap began to narrow. There were rumors that Crist was considering switching parties since it seemed he was heading toward a GOP primary defeat -- a little stimulus embrace of President Obama was a contributing factor. Crist wholeheartedly stated he would never switch parties. Then, lo and behold, Crist became an independent, claiming both parties were failing the people. Well, Crist failed and lost the Senate race.
“Amazingly, Crist decided it was time for yet another political makeover and in 2012, as a Democrat, spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte,” West continued. “Parroting the liberal-progressive talking point, Crist says the GOP is too extreme. Obviously, character is not a necessary quality for Democrats and therefore completely understandable having Jim Messina as part of the Crist team. After all, Messina was instrumental in the re-election of the most characterless individual to ever reside in 1600 Pennsylvania (Avenue). So, here we go in Florida, lies, deceit, and misdirection will be the theme of the Crist campaign. What is truly offensive is that Crist, Obama, Wasserman Schultz, and the Democrats believe the people of Florida are just that stupid.
“Florida Governor Rick Scott may not be the warmest and fuzziest – and he certainly doesn’t sport a year-round tan,” West wrote in conclusion. “But his record of economic restoration in Florida is rock solid, and far superior to that of Crist when he was a Republican governor. But the gubernatorial election in Florida will not be about the issues, because that’s not what Messina does. It will be about demonizing Scott. The issues of Medicare cuts should matter. The issues of growing welfare rolls and dependency should matter. The issues of protecting our veterans should matter. The issue of economic growth and business opportunities should matter.”
Conservatives and tea party supporters continue to try to recruit Dr. Ben Carson to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Carson is best known for his fierce criticism of President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law.
John Phillip Sousa IV, the namesake of the patriotic composer and the chairman of the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, emailed conservatives on Wednesday night comparing Carson to former President Ronald Reagan.
“Dr. Ben Carson is the man who spoke boldly to President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast last March, telling him and the nation that Obamacare is an unworkable, dangerous scheme that will hurt all Americans,” Sousa wrote. “Now we know that Dr. Carson was right.”
Before comparing him to Reagan, Sousa argued that Carson was the only Republican candidate who could defeat former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“He is the only candidate who, like Ronald Reagan, can explain the fallacy of liberal schemes in terms the average American can understand," Sousa insisted about Carson. “Ben Carson has the communication skills of Ronald Reagan! The Republican Party has lots of great conservatives, several of whom, in my opinion, would make a great president. They are very good people. However, not one of these prospective candidates has the wit, wisdom, and persuasive eloquence of Ronald Reagan that Dr. Ben Carson possesses.
“It was Ronald Reagan’s power to persuade that made it possible for him to win two landslide elections to the White House,” Sousa added. “He had the amazing ability to take a complex issue and explain it in simple, common-sense terms that the average voter could understand. Dr. Carson is blessed with those same skills. In fact, he is the first candidate since Ronald Reagan who has the necessary communication skills to be elected president of the United States. There is just no one else on the scene comparable to Dr. Carson.”
Sousa also pointed toward Carson’s lack of political experience and compared it to Reagan’s and Dwight Eisenhower’s background.
“It was politicians, both Democrat and Republican, that created the current mess we are in. We don’t need another politician, we need a citizen statesman,” Sousa wrote. “Ronald Reagan was disdained as an actor when he ran for governor of California. They said he didn’t have the skill or experience needed to run what was the seventh largest government in the world. But, relying on common sense and godly wisdom, Ronald Reagan turned California around and then saved the United States from economic collapse.
“The last nonpolitician that was elected president of the United States was Dwight Eisenhower, who united our nation and faced down the Soviet Union,” Sousa continued. “And, by the way, Eisenhower received 39 percent of the African-American vote. Dr. Carson is a man of great intellect, great courage, and vast common sense. The one book he reads every day is the Book of Proverbs where he soaks in godly wisdom. Ben Carson has far more life experience than Barack Obama had when he was elected president as a newly minted, junior senator from Illinois. But, far more important, we need less Washington, D.C., political experience and more real world experience, godly wisdom, and common sense in our next president if America is to survive.”
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) went after former Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday, trying to link him to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law. Despite having spent most of his career in the GOP, Crist is the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November. Lenny Curry, the chairman of the RPOF, hit Crist for hiring Jim Messina as a campaign adviser -- a Democratic operative best known for managing Obama’s 2012 campaign.
"Charlie Crist is fast becoming Washington's favorite Democrat, adopting President Obama's failed policies like Obamacare and recruiting President Obama's best spin doctors who sold Americans on the now-infamous line, 'If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,’" Curry said. “When Charlie Crist can't acknowledge that the 'Lie of the Year' is a lie, Floridians should not trust him to do what's best for the Sunshine State."
Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, best known for his three bids for the White House, praised pro-life advocates taking part in the March for Life on Wednesday.
“I extend best wishes to all those attending today’s March for Life. Roe v. Wade, which usurped jurisdiction over abortion from state and local governments in order to deny the unborn’s right to life, is one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in American history,” Paul said on Wednesday. “None of our rights are secure when government denies the right to life of any group.
“It is no coincidence that the acceptance of abortion has been accompanied by a growth of government power in all areas,” Paul added. “The devaluing of life caused by the causal acceptance of abortion has also spilled over into our foreign policy with the causal acceptance of ‘pre-emptive’ war and presidential kill lists.
“Throughout my congressional career I led the effort to end taxpayer-financing of abortion,” Paul said in conclusion. “It is outrageous that the federal government forces pro-life Americans to subsidize activities some believe is murder. Ending all federal funding and support for abortion -- including Obamacare’s abortion mandates -- must be a priority for all who support life and liberty.”
Gov. Rick Scott announced on Wednesday that Frontier Communications will expand operations in DeLand, adding almost 140 new jobs in the Volusia County area.
“The expansion of Frontier Communications in DeLand is great news for families in Central Florida,” Scott said. “The 139 jobs added to this area will help families achieve their dreams. We work every day to make sure Florida is the best place to live and the best place for business. Since December 2010, we have created more than 446,300 private-sector jobs and Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped to 6.4 percent, the lowest it’s been in more than five years. We look forward to continuing to create an opportunity economy in Florida.”
“We are proud to be part of Florida and the greater DeLand community,” said Donna Lofferts, a vice president of residential call center sales and service for Frontier. “The state and local governments have been involved in every step of our expansion here in DeLand, and their involvement has been essential to ensuring our successful growth. The employees we have attracted are talented, hard-working and have a positive attitude, and we could not be happier with our continued growth in the state of Florida."
A new poll shows former Gov. Charlie Crist’s numbers with Democrats are dropping, though he still holds a strong lead over former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich as they battle for their party’s nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November. After spending most of his career as a Republican, Crist joined the Democrats at the end of 2012.
A poll from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling (PPP) released Wednesday finds Crist taking 58 percent of likely primary voters while Rich garners the support of 16 percent. PPP released a poll taken at the end of September which showed similiar numbers with Crist at 59 percent and Rich at 16 percent.
But the new poll does show signs of Crist slipping. In the September poll, 62 percent of Democratic primary voters saw Crist in a favorable light and 23 percent saw him as unfavorable. Now 51 percent of Democratic primary voters see Crist as favorable and 27 percent see him as unfavorable. Rich has made little progress at Crist’s expense as currently 13 percent of primary voters see her as favorable, the same as it was in September, and 18 percent see her as unfavorable, down slightly from 23 percent in the earlier poll.
The poll of 243 likely Democratic primary voters was taken from Jan. 16-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 6.3 percent.
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The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released an ad on Wednesday hitting former state CFO Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate in a special congressional election, on taxes and for backing President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law.
“Alex Sink has a history of hurting Florida families,” said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC. “Not only does this tax-and-spend liberal continue to support higher taxes for Florida families, but she also continues to support Obamacare which is causing Pinellas families to lose their health care coverage. Alex Sink is a risk Pinellas County just can’t afford.”
With pro-life advocates from across the nation in Washington on Wednesday for the 41st annual March for Life, U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., reaffirmed his opposition to abortion.
“Every day, more than 3,000 children are aborted in America – the same country that is called the land of the free and the home of the brave,” Ross said. “This is not just unacceptable – it is a horrific tragedy. These children are precious and are truly gifts. Each child is a miracle.
“As a country, we have a moral obligation to protect the rights of the unborn,” Ross added. “I will always be a strong advocate for policies that value the sanctity of life.”
Republican congressional candidate David Jolly won the endorsement of U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Wednesday. McCain, best known for being the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, praised Jolly for his work on behalf of veterans.
“It is a tremendous honor to have the support of Senator John McCain – a true example of steadfast leadership and service to his constituents and the citizens of this nation,” said Jolly. “A Navy veteran himself, Senator McCain has worked with members of both parties to ensure our nation’s veterans, and the veterans of his home state, have the support they need and deserve here at home. I thank Senator McCain for his backing in this race to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District in Washington, and I look forward to working alongside him to ensure our veterans and our men and women of the armed forces continue to have access to the resources and services they have so rightfully earned.”
“The United States Congress needs principled leaders like David Jolly,” said McCain. “His experience ensures he will be effective for the people of Pinellas County on day one. David has strong convictions and also believes in civility and working together to get things done. And, his support for America's men and women in uniform, our veterans, and particularly our wounded warriors, is more than just a campaign promise – he’s lived this commitment through service at our military hospitals, at our VA centers and with multiple veterans' organizations. It’s a commitment to service David will continue in Congress.”
Jolly takes on former state CFO Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate, and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 special election.
Rep. Larry Metz, R-Groveland, became the 20th state legislator to back Blaise Ingoglia’s bid for a Florida House seat representing parts of Hernando County.
“I’m pleased to join the growing list of my colleagues with my endorsement of Blaise Ingoglia for the Florida House,” said Metz on Wednesday. “Blaise understands the importance of limited government, low taxes, balanced budgets, and more personal responsibility. He is a conservative voice that will represent the people of District 35 well in Tallahassee.”
“I am honored to have the support of Representative Metz,” said Ingoglia. “Representative Metz is a true leader and public servant, having served in the Marine Corps and most recently in the Florida House. I am grateful for Representative Metz and for his support.”
A Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll unveiled Wednesday finds a strong majority -- 65 percent -- of Floridians say they would support a state constitutional amendment favoring medical marijuana. Only 23 percent say they oppose it. Trial lawyer John Morgan, a prominent Democratic fundraiser, has led efforts to collect signatures to ensure the proposed amendment will be on the ballot in November. To pass, the amendment needs 60 percent support.
The poll finds Floridians are also leaning toward raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour, with 62 percent supporting the idea and 29 percent opposing it.
Floridians are much more divided on same-sex marriage, with 47 percent approving of it and 43 percent disapproving of it.
The poll of 591 Florida voters was taken from Jan. 16-21.
A new poll finds President Barack Obama and his signature health-care law remain unpopular in Florida.
The poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, finds almost a majority -- 48 percent -- of those surveyed disapprove of Obama while 44 percent approve of him. While 40 percent approve of Obama’s federal health-care law, 49 percent disapprove of it.
The poll finds Floridians think the roll-out of the health care law was handled poorly, with 42 percent saying it was very unsuccessful and 20 percent thinking it was somewhat unsuccessful. Only 6 percent think the implementation was very successful and 29 percent say it was somewhat successful.
The poll of 591 Florida voters was taken from Jan. 16-21.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has small leads over her two Democratic challengers, according to a poll released on Wednesday.
The poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, finds Bondi upside down with 33 percent of those surveyed disapproving of her while 28 percent approve of her. Despite that, Bondi has a slight edge over two of her Democratic opponents. Bondi edges Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, 37 percent to 35 percent. Bondi does slightly better when matched against former state DCF Secretary George Sheldon, besting him 37 percent to 34 percent.
The poll of 591 Florida voters was taken from Jan. 16-21.
Gov. Rick Scott has come back strongly against former Gov. Charlie Crist according to a poll released on Wednesday.
The poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, finds Crist, who is running for the Democratic nomination, taking 43 percent while Scott is right on his heels with 41 percent. The poll finds Scott does much better against former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, beating her 40 percent to 34 percent.
PPP finds all three of the candidates are upside down. A majority of those surveyed -- 51 percent -- disapprove of Scott while 34 percent approve of him. Crist is seen as unfavorable by 46 percent while 36 percent approve of him. Rich is seen as favorable by only 9 percent while 21 percent see her as unfavorable and 70 percent are not sure about her.
The poll of 591 Florida voters was taken from Jan. 16-21.
After introducing nearly 100 proposed changes to the Common Core standards, Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart announced last week that the department would be changing the name of the education standards from "Common Core State Standards" to "Florida Standards."
The name change comes after a series of public hearings in which parents, teachers and members of the public voiced their concerns and made suggestions on how to improve the standards. The result was a proposal that included 99 changes, with over 50 of them being in calculus.
Stewart said the proposed changes do nothing to change the rigor of the standards and seemed to believe the new standards would be higher than Common Core.
As it prepares to be fully implemented in Florida's schools, Common Core has gathered significant controversy. The controversy reached a fever pitch when Florida pulled out of the fiscal agent portion of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment test. Maryland took on the fiscal agent role in December.
Florida has not yet determined which test it will be using to replace the FCAT, but Stewart said Tuesday that the board will make its decision in March.
The next board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 18 in Orlando.
Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., turned up the heat on the Obama administration over Benghazi, hitting both the president and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the matter.
“I am disgusted,” West emailed supporters on Tuesday. “Recently declassified testimony given by General Carter Ham about the tragic attack on our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and a new report by the Senate Intelligence Committee has made three things crystal clear: the American public was deceived by the Obama administration into believing the attack was caused by a YouTube video; the attack was preventable; there is an ongoing cover-up to hide the truth.
“America deserves better,” West added. “ If we want Washington to clean up its act, we need to clean up Washington by electing more principled conservatives to Congress.”
While he has no intentions of running for office in 2014, West plans to remain active through his Allen West Guardian Fund PAC.
“Call it whatever you want – executive privilege, obstructionism, failure to respond,” West wrote. “Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are hiding from congressional investigations that are uncovering the truth about a deliberate terrorist assault by elements of al-Qaida against the United States, because they lied about it.”
West insisted politics came first for Obama and Clinton.
“We need the truth – because from where I sit, this looks like a bunch of politicians trying to save their political futures in Washington,” West offered. “Benghazi took place just weeks before Election Day in 2012. I'm sure Clinton, Obama, and all their staff saw their futures on the line when the terrorists caught them with their guard down. Now, Hillary wants to be president so I'm sure the last thing she wants is to shoulder the blame on Benghazi.”
Miami Heat players didn't just visit the White House to celebrate their 2013 championship, they teamed up with the First Lady to produce a lark of a public service announcement promoting healthy eating.
"Let's Move" is FLOTUS' personal campaign to highlight the importance of "eating healthy and drinking water to perform like a champion."
Erik Spoelstra, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen teamed up with Michelle Obama to film the PSA, released Tuesday, in the Diplomatic Room of Pennsylvania Avenue's most famous home.
On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott announced $55 million in his budget proposal to protect springs in Florida.
“Today, I’m pleased to announce that in order to continue our dedication to protect and restore springs throughout the Sunshine State, the ‘It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget’ includes $55 million specifically dedicated to springs protection efforts,” Scott said at a media event in Tallahassee. “This investment will enable state and local partners to protect the quality and quantity of water that flows from our springs. These springs are important not only to animal and plant life, but also add to Florida’s ever-expanding tourism industry.”
“If you care about Florida’s springs, Governor Scott’s funding announcement should have you very happy,” said Florida DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard. “Governor Scott has already surpassed all previous administrations when it comes to funding to improve our springs, and this year’s budget does even more. The $55 million in proposed funding for springs protection and restoration will allow Florida to keep the momentum going on this administration’s unprecedented efforts to return one of our state’s most precious resources to health.”
Tsamoutales Strategies raised their profile considerably on Tuesday by elevating the daughter of a former presidential candidate and bringing a former state Senate president on board.
On Tuesday, Tsamoutales Strategies named Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, as vice president. Sanders joined Tsamoutales Strategies back in 2011 as director of strategic initiatives and is now vice president of the firm. Besides serving as her father’s national political director, Sanders led John Boozman’s successful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Arkansas back in 2010. After the 2008 presidential campaign, Mike Huckabee moved to the Florida Panhandle and he has opened the door to a second presidential bid in 2016.
Tsamoutales Strategies also named former Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos as chief strategy officer. First elected to the Florida House in 2000 before moving to the Senate in 2003, Haridopolos took over as Senate president after the 2010 elections. Haridopolos, who endorsed Mike Huckabee back in 2008, made a bid for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., but quickly bowed out and backed U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla.
Amy Bisceglia, a former aide to Haridopolos and to Gov. Rick Scott, is joining Tsamoutales Strategies as a government relations consultant.
“We will continue to service some of America’s most trusted and recognizable companies with the same ethos we always have," Sanders said. “We remain committed to delivering our services and advice with superior industry knowledge and a deep understanding of the issues that impact our clients.”
“I am excited to have such an elite group of professionals on our team,” said Frank Tsamoutales, the president, chairman and CEO of Tsamoutales Strategies. “Together, we are dedicated to one thing – delivering winning results to our faithful clients. Sarah’s promotion and the addition of Mike Haridopolos and Amy Bisceglia will support our firm’s growth and relentless pursuit for our clients’ success.”
With Jim Messina -- the Democratic political operative best known for his work leading President Barack Obama’s 2012 efforts -- joining former Gov. Charlie Crist’s campaign team on Monday, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) turned up the heat, insisting Messina helped mislead the American people over President Barack Obama’s health-care law.
"As Charlie Crist tries desperately to cover up his failed record, he will definitely need help from the ultimate spin doctor who sold the lie of the year that 'if you like your health care plan you can keep it,'" said Susan Hepworth, a spokeswoman for the RPOF on Monday night.
"RT to help me welcome @Messina2012 to the People's Team. Join us at http://charliecrist.com," wrote Crist on his Twitter account Monday evening.
According to Politico, Messina will not be involved in the day-to-day aspects of the Crist campaign but will instead provide "big-picture" advice.
Crist's camp saw trouble shortly after he declared he'd be running for his old job -- his original campaign manager, Bill Hyers, called it quits in November and Michael Hoffman, who was listed as Crist's deputy finance director, split with the campaign earlier this month.
"Ann and I join all Floridians in celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day today. This important holiday allows us to honor the legacy of one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen. Martin Luther King Jr. worked tirelessly and passionately to advocate for a nation built on a foundation of equality for everyone. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, and half a century later we are still working toward that dream. I am honored every day to have the opportunity to work to ensure that every Floridian has the chance to get a great education and an opportunity to succeed in the Sunshine State.”
Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal for a 10-day sales tax holiday right in time for back to school shopping won the applause of the Florida Retail Federation on Friday. Scott is expected to announce the idea later in the day.
“Florida retailers appreciate Governor Scott’s support for a longer sales tax holiday,” said Rick McAllister, the president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “It would be a great boost for Florida’s families and for our retailers. It gives many families whose paychecks come on two-week cycles another chance to take advantage of the sales that retailers offer. Retailers traditionally compete with sales and markdowns to attract shoppers during the tax holiday, and we see an increase in sales because of it.”
McAllister cited an increase of 30-to-40 percent for retailers in recent sales tax holidays.
Former Gov. Charlie Crist, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott, headed to Tallahassee on Thursday and ramped up the attacks on his Republican opponent.
“I’m running for governor to try to serve you again because I’m disappointed,” Crist said. “My heart is broken for educators, for people who care about the environment, for the middle class and the economy and the greater job opportunities we should be having in the Sunshine State,’”
Crist attempted to contrast his record with Scott’s on Thursday. "He's got his record and I've got mine," Crist said. The new Democrat promised to ramp up attacks on Scott’s record in the private sector, including the governor’s time at Columbia/HCA and his role in the largest fraud settlement in American history in which the company lost around $2 billion.
"When Governor Scott ran before, it was mentioned,” Crist said. “Maybe not enough.”
Crist also defended his economic record and backing President Barack Obama’s federal stimulus plan when he met the media. Asked what Scott policies he would reverse, Crist said, “All of them.”
“I would change everything he is doing and get Florida back on track,” Crist said, pointing to Scott’s record on high-speed rail, the enviroment, education and voter rights.
Susan Hepworth, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), quickly fired back.
“When Charlie Crist says that he would reverse everything Rick Scott has done, does that include his five major tax cuts in the last three legislative sessions?" Hepworth asked. “Does it include the record state-based funding for K-12 schools and $480 million in teacher pay raises? Does it include the 2,800 regulations slashed for job creators and the reduction of $3.6 billion in state debt? Charlie Crist has made it clear that Floridians can’t afford another four years of his failed leadership.”
Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., continues to double down on his support of Maryland congressional candidate Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent.
On Thursday night, West emailed supporters to highlight the congressional candidate and praise his record. “Dan served in the elite Secret Service Presidential Protection Division under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama," West wrote. “During his time protecting Obama, Dan witnessed some things that deeply disturbed him, and ultimately motivated him to seek office. Now he's speaking out – and in turn, he's receiving a whole host of criticism and baseless attacks.
“Dan Bongino is a true American hero,” West added. “He put his life on the line to protect two presidents, and I have no doubt he'll guard our conservative values and the Constitution with the same valor.”
West plans to use his Allen West Guardian Fund PAC to fight back against “liberal factions” who will launch an “onslaught of attacks” against Bongino.
“At a time when our nation requires men and women of honor, integrity, and character, having Dan arrive on the scene is refreshing,” West insisted. “He articulates his vision clearly and in an irrefutable manner. He possesses an impeccable image – a square-jawed warrior. I know Dan has all the right mechanics and ability to win this election ... he just needs the support of conservatives nationwide to fight back against the Left's baseless attacks.”
Bongino is running for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., voted against the $1.1 trillion federal spending bill on Thursday night. The bill was the result of an agreement between U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
“For Americans to achieve their dreams of a better life for themselves and their children, we need an economy that’s creating more middle class jobs and a government with less debt,” Rubio said. “This omnibus spending deal does a great job of letting Washington grow bigger, more in debt and more dysfunctional for another year, but it’s a terrible way to make the American dream a reality for more Americans. It allows Washington to keep spending more money than it takes in, does nothing to encourage broad-based economic growth, nothing to save our retirement programs, and actually places more financial burdens on working-class Americans.
“We should be having more routine, robust debates on the worthiness and appropriate funding level for individual programs, but this spending bill just lumps everything in and gives the American people an all-or-nothing choice -- and that is unacceptable,” Rubio added.
Despite Rubio and 25 other senators voting against the bill, it cleared the Senate on Thursday after passing the House earlier in the week.
Melissa Sellers, who currently works as communication director in the governor's office, will become Scott's campaign manager. Sellers formerly served as a regional spokeswoman for the Republican National Convention in Tampa prior to joining the governor's office.
Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, will be serving as chairman of Scott's campaign. Thrasher served as the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida from January 2010 through January 2011.
Miguel Fernandez and Darlene Jordan will serve as co-finance chairs. Fernandez is chairman of MBF Partners, a health care firm based in Coral Gables. Jordan was a national finance co-chair for Mitt Romney in 2008.
Tim Saler will take over as Scott's deputy campaign manager. He has served as deputy executive director for political strategy for the Republican Party of Florida, responsible for guiding RPOF efforts on voter data, targeting, analytics, and voter contact programs. Saler previously served as executive director of the Mississippi Republican Party, and was victory regional field director for Chris Christie’s gubernatorial campaign in South Jersey.
Matt Moon will be the campaign communications director. Moon most recently served as communications director for the Republican Party of Florida. Immediately prior to moving to Tallahassee, Moon was senior adviser to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., for communications and legislative efforts.