Sunshine State News Blogs
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 poll of 500 likely voters was taken from Oct. 16-Oct. 19 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.
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.
With two weeks to go in the Florida gubernatorial race, Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and his team linked Democratic challenger former Gov. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., to President Barack Obama in a new TV ad.
The ad from the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) was released on Monday morning and argues Crist has been a supporter of Obama, arguing he “backed Obama from the start,” showcasing his support of the president’s federal stimulus. Despite carrying Florida twice, Obama’s popularity has dropped in the Sunshine State with most polls showing him upside down.
Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., announced this week that his was backing Wendy Rogers, the Republican candidate running against U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. Rogers becomes the 14th candidate backed by the Allen West Guardian Fund PAC. West praised Rogers for her service in the Air Force and her efforts to reform the federal VA department.
“Wendy is an exceptional patriot,” West wrote supporters on Friday in an email. “You can be certain a battle-hardened veteran like Wendy will fight to get to the bottom of the incompetence and cronyism plaguing not just our VA system, but Washington as a whole. And there is no doubt we need her war-fighting experience to help shape an effective strategy against the foreign threats facing our nation.”
With two and a half weeks until the general election, Gov. Rick Scott announced on Friday that the state unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent in September from 6.3 percent in August. In September, 12,800 private-sectors jobs were added across the Sunshine State.
“Today’s announcement that Florida businesses have created nearly 13,000 private-sector jobs is great news for Florida families,” Scott said. "Together since December 2010, Florida job creators have created 651,300 private-sector jobs. Florida’s unemployment rate has also dropped from 6.3 to 6.1 percent, the lowest it has been since June 2008. Our policies are working in Florida, and more and more Floridians are able to get a job and support their family, and we will keep working until every Floridian who wants a job can get one.”
Under Scott’s watch, the unemployment rate dropped from 11.1 percent in December 2010, the last month former Gov. Charlie Crist was in office, to its current rate. Crist is the Democratic nominee challenging Scott in November.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce released a new TV ad on Friday, hitting former Gov. Charlie Crist as a trial lawyer and contrasting his economic record with that of Gov. Rick Scott. Crist has worked for Morgan & Morgan, one of the leading trial attorney firms in the state.
“Governor Rick Scott has Florida’s economy moving in the right direction again, and the last thing Florida needs is another trial lawyer in Tallahassee,” said Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “The trial lawyer agenda and lawsuit abuse hurts families and small businesses the most. Voters deserve to know that Charlie is a trial lawyer whose firm makes millions of dollars suing small businesses and families.”
Wilson also took a shot at Crist for using a fan in Wednesday night’s debate in violation of the rules.
“What we’re doing is helping educate voters so they will know the difference between job creators like Governor Rick Scott and trial lawyers like Charlie Crist,” said Wilson. “Knowingly violating the debate rules is consistent with a candidate who changes parties and positions based on political expediency.”
Even as fellow Florida Democrats like U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson break with the White House and demand a travel ban on African nations impacted by Ebola, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown says she opposes the idea.
“Although I support strong measures to prevent the spread of Ebola, including additional screening at airports, I do not believe that a travel ban would make the citizens of the United States any more secure,” Brown said on Thursday night. “In fact, according to several global health organizations, more travel restrictions are not going to make the world safer when it comes to Ebola; instead, they might make the situation worse
“Additionally, flight restrictions will only make it more difficult for lifesaving aid and medical professionals to reach West Africa,” Brown added. “Any discontinuation of transport will affect humanitarian aid, doctors, nurses, and human resources entering the affected countries. And according to the global health researchers who have modeled the risk of the international spread of Ebola, it is clear that the longer the outbreak goes on and the bigger it is, the more likely Ebola is going to spread beyond West Africa to the rest of the world and the United States. Certainly, the best way to prevent Ebola from spreading to the U.S. is to eradicate it in the afflicted West African countries. Beyond a doubt, it is imperative to prepare hospitals and providers to treat any cases in the U.S., as well as adequately funding our nation’s public health agencies.”
Brown insisted current safeguards are enough, despite a Liberian national infected with Ebola flying from Africa to Dallas.
“Travelers from the affected countries are already subjected to screening prior to departure from West Africa,” Brown said. "They are also subjected to additional, enhanced screening upon arrival in the United States. Certainly, imposing a ban would give travelers an incentive to evade detection or conceal their travel history, which would make it even harder to ensure they are properly screened before entering the United States.”
The First Coast Democrat said the Ebola scare showed how much America needed a surgeon general and hit Republicans for blocking the Obama administration’s nominee to that position.
“One other contributing difficulty is that the United States is currently without a surgeon general, since the former surgeon general departed in July 2013,” Brown noted. “Certainly, it is vital that the American people have a surgeon general to educate them about the disease and how to best protect their health. The surgeon general is America’s doctor, and the trusted medical spokesperson who can reassure the American public about the risk of exposure, and what precautions and protocols are being enacted to protect them. However, this position has been vacant for over one year and attempts to confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy have been blocked by Republicans since he was nominated in November 2013.”
As Congress held hearings on the Ebola threat on Thursday, elected officials from Florida continued to push their own solutions.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said on Thursday that he backed the White House naming an Ebola czar, a proposal floated by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., among others.
“If there’s a will, there’s a way,” Nelson said on Thursday. “This person should be at least temporarily based in a White House war room with direct authority from the president -- someone like former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who has the requisite medical background and who served in that position under former president George W. Bush.”
U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., offered his take on the Ebola threat on Thursday, calling for President Barack Obama to show more leadership on the issue and supporting a travel ban on impacted African nations.
“The growing Ebola crisis in Western Africa, new cases here in the United States, in combination with the virus’ impact to other countries warrants the highest level of attention across all governments,” Crenshaw said. “At home, it’s clear we are not ready and have to do more to stop this deadly disease cold. This is a real threat to our nation’s health and security; quicker response and better procedures are needed.
“Moving forward, President Obama must assure a worried nation that Ebola will spread no further,” Crenshaw added. “That means a clearer flow of information and stronger display of leadership about how American lives, including front-line health care workers, will be protected. Among the steps he should consider is a temporary travel ban from Western African countries to the United States.
“Concerns about the possibility of this sort of outbreak prompted Congress to provide more Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funding than requested,” Crenshaw continued. “And, this morning, hearings on Capitol Hill have begun. Congress will continue to assess the response to date and how it can be improved, and the House stands ready to act if legislation is needed to counter Ebola’s growing threat. We pray for the safety of the U.S. military that has been called into action to stem Ebola’s tide and we keep all who are fighting against the ravages of this horrific disease front and center.”