Sunshine State News Blogs

U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government which oversees the IRS, showcased his tax fighting on Thursday as he voted for the “State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Fairness Act of 2015” and voted to end the estate tax.

The “State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Fairness Act of 2015” would ensure a permanent deduction of local and state sales taxes would be included in federal taxes. Crenshaw insisted Florida taxpayers would benefit from it.

“Americans are dedicating time and resources to jump-start our economy and create jobs, and in the process deserve certainty in their federal tax policy to support them,” said Crenshaw on Thursday. “Under current law, residents of states with a state income tax have a permanent deduction for state and local sales taxes. This isn’t the case for Florida and other states that do not have a state income tax. As a result, they are left with uncertainty, year after year, if the option to deduct state and local sales taxes will be available to them.”

“The State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Fairness Act levels the playing field, making permanent the ability for residents of nonincome tax states to deduct local and state sales taxes on their federal return,” Crenshaw added. “As a result, more hard-earned dollars remain in their wallets to grow a business, pay for education, the mortgage, or whatever use they see fit. It’s a simple, transparent, and fair way to grow the economy, create jobs, and improve the quality of life and is long overdue.”

Crenshaw also highlighted his support of ending the estate tax.

“Americans are taxed their entire life and unfortunately taxed again on their assets at death. This double taxation is not only outrageous but unfair. It’s time to bury the death tax for good,” said Crenshaw on Thursday.

The First Coast congressman insisted repealing the estate tax would benefit his home region.

“Families across Northeast Florida and the nation who have spent a lifetime building their small business, farms, and ranches deserve a fairer path on which to pass them on to the next generation,” Crenshaw said. “That’s why I have long-supported a permanent repeal of this regressive and punitive tax that does nothing more than put a roadblock in their way, create uncertainty, hamper economic growth, all while raising a relatively {small] amount of revenue."

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U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., drew closer to announcing a bid for the U.S. Senate this week.

On Thursday, Grayson appeared on “Democracy Now” with Amy Goodman and was asked about whether he would run for the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. With Rubio launching a presidential bid earlier this week, he is not expected to run for a second term.

“Congressman Grayson, very quickly, Bernie Sanders hasn’t yet officially announced that he’s running for president, but what about you?” Goodman asked. “Sen. Rubio has announced he is running for president. Will you be running for his seat in Florida?

“ I’m giving it a lot of attention,” Grayson said. “The answer is probably yes, but I haven’t made up my mind yet once and for all. I hope to do that soon.”

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., is already running for the Democratic nomination.  

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Even though most Americans have a great deal of respect for the teaching profession, the majority of them say they wouldn't want to get into the teaching field themselves, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll.

Only 25 percent of American adults consider teaching a desirable profession to go into despite 67 percent of Americans saying being a teacher is one of the most important jobs in the country.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans don't see teaching as an attractive profession, while 18 percent are undecided.

More than half of Americans -- 58 percent -- believe public school teachers are paid too little. Only 10 percent say teachers are paid too much while 25 percent say they're paid just right. That number increased to 41 percent when respondents were informed the average American teacher makes $56,000 a year.

The national poll of 800 Americans was conducted April 8-9 by Rasmussen Reports.
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Gov. Rick Scott rose in politics by opposing President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law and he continued his opposition to it on Thursday, announcing that he was going to sue to ensure the state received Low Income Pool (LIP) funds to Florida even as he and the Florida House continue to fight against Medicaid expansion.

“It is appalling that President Obama would cut off federal health-care dollars to Florida in an effort to force our state further into Obamacare,” Scott said on Thursday. “The president’s health-care agency sent us a letter this week saying ‘the future of LIP’ and ‘Medicaid expansion are linked.’ But, the Supreme Court has already ruled in NFIB v. Sebelius that the president cannot force Medicaid expansion on states. In fact, the court ruled that the president could not use ‘gun to the head’ approaches in pushing for Medicaid expansion.

“Not only does President Obama’s end to LIP funding in Florida violate the law by crossing the line into a coercion tactic for Obamacare, it also threatens poor families’ access to the safety-net health care services they need,” Scott added. The population in Florida served under the LIP program is different from the population that would be covered under any Medicaid expansion, as is well-documented in a recent Urban Institute report that said Florida would still have $1.6 billion in uncompensated care costs with or without an expansion of Medicaid.

“We will fight to protect the health care of Floridians, and their right to be free from federal overreach," Scott continued. “Our citizens already pay federal taxes that go into the federal LIP program. Now, President Obama has decided that the state must take on a larger Medicaid program, forcing our taxpayers to pay even more to government, before they get their own federal tax dollars back. This is outrageous, and specifically what the Supreme Court warned against.

“Our democracy is designed so that state governments can make the decision to not take on federal programs that will ultimately cost state taxpayers billions of dollars,” Scott said in conclusion. “We will not pass this cost on to our citizens in Florida and we will continue to fight for the federal LIP dollars our citizens already pay for with their federal taxes.”

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On Thursday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced that North Central Florida residents can go to the Marion County tax collector’s office to apply for a concealed weapon license. Marion County Tax Collector George Albright joined his counterparts in Lee, Pinellas, Highlands, Okaloosa, Indian River and Nassau counties in agreeing to let concealed weapons applications go from his office to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Before this, the nearest place to apply for a concealed weapons permit was in Jacksonville.

“We will continue to partner tax collectors to offer Floridians more choices and better service when applying for concealed weapon licenses,” Putnam said on Thursday. “By partnering with tax collectors throughout the state, we are providing a more convenient experience for Floridians to apply for their concealed weapon license, while also saving money to the state.”

“This is a great day for the citizens of North Central Florida,” said Albright. “Our office looks forward to serving our customers in a timely and efficient manner.”

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Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., called for tax reform on Wednesday, the last day Americans have to file their federal income tax returns.

“Our broken tax code cost Americans over $3 trillion and has more words than all of the Harry Potter books combined,” Bush noted on Wednesday. “It must be simpler, fairer, better for working Americans.”

Bush is expected to run for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2016 election.

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U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., a possible U.S. Senate candidate in 2016, called for tax cuts across the board during a national radio appearance on Tuesday.

Buchanan, who sits on the House Ways and Means and the Budget committees, was on “Kilmeade and Friends” on Fox News Radio and called for lower taxes.

“We need to bring down everybody’s rates,” said Buchanan. “The tax rate for small business is almost 50 percent. How much is enough? It’s way too high, it hurts jobs and it hurts working families.”

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Florida TaxWatch showcased the important role cruises play in the Florida economy on Wednesday, releasing a report showing 9 million cruise passengers led to $7.3 billion in direct spending and more than 140,400 jobs in 2013.

"Florida's prime location, blossoming tourism economy and established cruise industry are the envy of the world," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. "As more passengers discover Florida's unique cruise options, Florida's tourism economy will continue to grow.

"Tourism is one of the few sectors that created jobs during the recession, and TaxWatch research has shown investing in Florida tourism results in a stronger overall economy," Calabro added. "Florida's growing cruise industry is another great way to attract visitors to Florida, which helps to keep the tax burden low for our state's residents."

The report can be read here.

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The National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) took aim at U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., as he continues his bid for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. On Monday, Rubio launched a presidential bid and is not expected to run for a second term in the Senate.

The NRSC hit Murphy on costs associated with President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law on Wednesday.

“No matter how you look at Patrick Murphy’s Obamacare, if you don’t have health insurance the IRS will tax you approximately $172 or if you took an Obamacare subsidy then you could pay about $530 in an unexpected tax,” said Matt Connelly, a spokesman for the NRSC. “These additional penalties are just the latest examples of how Obamacare has hurt Florida families.”

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With Wednesday marking the 150th anniversary of the death of President Abraham Lincoln, Gov. Rick Scott ordered flags to be flown at half-staff. President Barack Obama named Wednesday a Day of Remembrance for Lincoln. 

“Pursuant to the president’s proclamation, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, has been proclaimed as a Day of Remembrance for President Abraham Lincoln,” Scott ordered on Wednesday. “As such, all Floridians are encouraged to honor President Lincoln’s life and legacy with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

“In honor of the remembrance of President Abraham Lincoln, I hereby direct the flags of the United States and the state of Florida to be flown at half-staff at all local, state, and federal buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the state of Florida,” Scott added. “The flags shall be lowered immediately and remain at half-staff until sunset today, Wednesday, April 15, 2015.”

Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865, and died the next day. 

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Budget conferencing has begun on Capitol Hill and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tapped U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla,., the chairman of the U.S. House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee, as part of the House’s negotiating team.

“I am honored to have been chosen as a conferee, and I am grateful to Speaker Boehner and Chairman Price for this opportunity," Diaz-Balart said on Tuesday. “With the national debt at $18 trillion and growing, it is imperative that we cut waste, while also prioritizing funds to necessary programs. It has been over a decade since our country has had a balanced budget, and it is time to change that. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the budget conference as we begin to get America’s fiscal matters back in order.”

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The Tea Party Express is the latest conservative group to call on U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. With Rubio announcing for the presidency on Monday, he is not expected to seek a second term. DeSantis said on Tuesday that he was exploring the possibility and several conservative groups quickly fell in line behind him.

"When we first endorsed Ron DeSantis for Congress in 2012, it was because he promised to challenge the status quo with bold, conservative leadership,” said Taylor Budowich, the executive director of the Tea Party Express, on Tuesday afternoon. “He has done just that. Sen. Rubio will be greatly missed, but a DeSantis candidacy would give tea partiers throughout Florida a competitive, conservative choice to replace him. Not only is DeSantis solid on the key economic issues, he also is a hard-working candidate who can be elected statewide in Florida. We are excited and encouraged by this exciting development."

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With Wednesday being Tax Day, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., is using the occasion to gather support for a “simplified tax code,” gathering online petitions to streamline federal taxes.

“Filing taxes is a confusing and burdensome process that we must comply with each year,” Curbelo insisted on Wednesday. “Too much of our time and hard-earned money is spent just on filing our tax returns. It’s time we did away with this headache and simplify the tax code.

“To keep our country competitive in a vast global economy, we must make the tax code work for small businesses and working families. Tax reform will keep businesses and jobs in our country and reward hard work, not pander to special interests," Curbelo added. “As a small-business owner, I know how much this complexity hurts our economy. Stand with me for a reformed tax code that empowers our economy."

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Gov. Rick Scott might not be taking sides in the race for the Republican presidential nomination but he is inviting some of the top contenders to Orlando to share their views on the economy.

On Tuesday, Scott’s Lets Get to Work PAC announced it would host an “"Economic Growth Summit” in Orlando on June 2 and some of the leading candidates for the Republican nod plan to be at the event.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush will be attending. So will U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who officially kicked off his presidential campaign on Monday. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., who moved to Florida after his 2008 presidential bid, will also be attending.

Some candidates with ties to Scott will be on hand. They include Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., who went to bat for Scott during the 2014 gubernatorial race through his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Also in attendance will be Scott’s allies former Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, and Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La. Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., who is moving up in the polls, will also be on hand.

But there are some big names missing so far and that includes two candidates who are already running: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Also not on board yet is Dr. Ben Carson who is expected to launch his presidential bid next month.

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The Florida Cabinet backed state CFO Jeff Atwater’s proposal to recognize this week as “Days of Remembrance” to honor victims of Nazi Germany with Thursday as “Holocaust Remembrance Day,”also called Yom HaShoah.

“In memory of the victims of the Holocaust, in honor of its survivors, and in utmost gratitude for the risks taken by rescuers and liberators, Floridians are encouraged to use this as an occasion to rededicate themselves to the principles of human dignity and respecting individual freedoms,” Atwater said.

Since 2011, the Division of Consumer Services in the Department of Financial Services, has helped recover more than than $5.2 million through the Holocaust Victims Assistance Program.

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U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., is looking to put a check on executive power with a resolution returning Article 1 powers to Congress and looking to include executive usurpation as grounds for impeachment. Despite being a fierce critic of President Barack Obama, Yoho said his proposal was not directed against the president.

“Many of the people I have the honor of representing are tired of executive overreach and the circumvention of legislative process,” Yoho said on Monday. “It is a dangerous precedent to set when the president begins to rule by fiat and takes on the role that is specifically reserved for Congress.

“Today’s resolution addresses this issue and begins to set a standard to define what constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors,” Yoho added. “Let me be clear, this resolution isn’t directed at any one president and doesn't favor one party or the other. Essentially, it will put all presidents – current and future, both Democrat and Republican – on notice that Congress will finally begin holding them accountable.

“I swore to uphold the Constitution and defend the rule of law, regardless of who the president is,” Yoho concluded. “This is but a first step in reigning in an overreaching executive and restoring the balance of power in our government – the way our founders intended

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On Tuesday, from his perch as chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, which oversees the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw noted federal income taxes were due on Wednesday and stressed his support of the FairTax proposal.

“With Tax Day upon us, residents in Northeast Florida and across the nation need no reminder of the long hours and many dollars spent to understand and comply with the complex tax code,” Crenshaw said on Tuesday. “It’s a frustrating process, made more difficult by a lack of trust in the agency formed not long ago by chilling revelations that the IRS had targeted taxpayers based on political belief and wasted thousands upon thousands of dollars on lavish conferences and video production.

"My mission to simplify the tax code, make the IRS more accountable, and free Americans to keep more money in their own wallets rather than sending it to Washington moves forward on many fronts,” Crenshaw added. "That’s why I co-sponsored FairTax legislation in one of my very first actions this year. Since 2006, I have fought to replace the current tax code with a transparent national sales tax on goods and services administered primarily by the states. Federal income taxes and the FICA payroll tax would be eliminated, and the IRS would no longer be needed.

“As chair of the subcommittee responsible for appropriating the annual IRS budget, I also keep a close eye on operations there, pushing the agency to be more accountable to and transparent with taxpayers and Congress,” Crenshaw continued. “When news first surfaced that the IRS had abused the trust of American taxpayers, I immediately called top IRS officials to the Hill to answer for their actions. We enacted strict reforms to keep the agency in check =- a mission that continues today.

“In the week ahead, Congress will continue its work to provide taxpayers with accountability and transparency from the IRS,” Crenshaw said. Enacting a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that requires the IRS to fire employees who use their position for political purposes, prohibits agency employees from using personal email accounts to conduct official business, and improves access to the courts for those who believe they have been wronged by the agency is long overdue. Providing more tax relief for American families along with legislation, already passed, to provide permanent tax relief to small businesses also makes common sense and would help create nearly 200,000 jobs.”

Crenshaw ended with a shot at President Barack Obama’s policies.

“The current administration will continue to favor more regulations and higher taxes on the road ahead,” Crenshaw said. “But, make no mistake, I do not and never have. That is why I am joining with fellow Republicans to put forth common-sense solutions that create a brighter future full of opportunity for everyone.”

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Conservatives at the national level cheered U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., announcing that he is considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is running for president.

"If DeSantis decides to run for Senate, it would be a recruitment coup for conservatives in the critical state of Florida,” said Daniel Horowitz of Conservative Review on Tuesday. “DeSantis would bring the trust and respect of the conservative grassroots to the race due to his strong record as a fiscal, social, and national defense conservative.

"Not only has DeSantis been a reliable voice on the critical issues of our time, such as immigration, Obamacare, and crony capitalism, but his strong government reform agenda would also have a strong appeal in a general election as well," Horowitz added.

DeSantis scored high with Conservative Review, getting an “A-” grade from it.

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Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., came out swinging on Tuesday against President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration which keeps millions of illegals in the country without fear of being deported. Huckabee moved to Florida after his 2008 presidential bid and is looking at running again in 2016.

On Tuesday, Huckabee released a Web video on the topic.

"We've got to repeal Obama's unconstitutional executive orders, oppose amnesty, and secure the border,” Huckabee says in the video. “You don't punish people for living by the rules. If you're rewarding people who play outside the rules, and punish people who live within the rules, pretty soon nobody is going to play by the rules. By securing the border and protecting American workers and their livelihoods, we'll finally help every American earn his or her maximum wage."

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On Tuesday, a day after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced he would run for president in 2016, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis said he is thinking about replacing him in the U.S. Senate.

"Marco Rubio has done a great job in the U.S. Senate,” DeSantis said on Tuesday. “His 2010 campaign inspired me to consider running for office, and I have no doubt that he will make a compelling candidate on the national stage. As it became clear that Sen. Rubio was likely to run for president, I received encouragement to consider running for the Senate. Casey and I will use the next several weeks to discuss the race with our friends and supporters and will make a decision in short order.

"The country is suffering from stagnation at home and indignities abroad,” DeSantis added. “We need a new generation of leaders who will promote policies that will foster economic growth and alleviate the middle class squeeze, defend America's national security against those who threaten our people, reform the culture of Washington, D.C., and reassert the constitutional principles that make our country unique. Whatever shape my future service takes, I look forward to doing my part to help get our country back on track."

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Martin County School Board member Rebecca Negron announced on Tuesday that she is running for the congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., who is running for the U.S. Senate.

“I believe we live in a nation that, as our Founding Fathers intended, has given its citizens the greatest opportunities for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Negron, the wife of Florida Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart. “However, I am concerned that if we continue on our current path, those opportunities will be threatened. We are straying from the principles that have made our country great and on which our country was founded, which is fracturing our nation and stifling meaningful policy changes.”

Much like Murphy has in the past two elections, Negron downplayed partisanship and pledged to find “common ground.”

“Partisan politics will always exist, but we must find a way to avoid partisan policies that do not move our communities and our nation forward,” Negron said. “We can still retain our individualistic spirit and celebrate our differences and unique perspectives, but we must work to find common ground that will result in real change.

“I have lived in Martin County for more than 30 years, and I have worked and raised a family here,” Negron added. “I know the issues that are important to our area, and I know that our area wants and deserves someone in Washington that is grounded in their roots here at home, but can make a difference in Washington. Over the course of this campaign, I look forward to a healthy discussion on issues, such as educating our children, growing our economy and workforce and helping families keep more of their hard-earned dollars to spend how they wish, not how the federal government wants. I also plan to campaign on local issues, such as long-term water solutions and the environment – all of which I know are front-of-mind issues for my neighbors.

“I look forward to getting out on the campaign trail and earning every vote,” Negron promised.

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U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the chairman of the U.S. House National Security Subcommittee, will be leading his fellow post-9/11 congressional veterans in opposition to President Barack Obama’s policies with Iran.

"President Obama has said that criticism of the Iran nuclear framework ‘needs to stop,’ but I believe it is important to highlight the framework’s deficiencies for the American people,” DeSantis said on Monday. “It bestows international legitimacy on Iran’s nuclear program, provides the Iranian regime a huge infusion of cash that will allow Iran to foment terrorism abroad, and incentivizes other Middle Eastern nations to engage in a dangerous nuclear arms race in what is already an extremely volatile region. This cannot be permitted. I look forward to joining my colleagues on the House floor this evening to discuss this critical national security issue.”

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., threw his hat in the ring on Monday, announcing that he will run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Rubio made it official on Monday, telling George Stephanopoulos from ABC News that he was entering the presidential race.

"I think this country's at a generational moment where it needs to decide not what party it wants in charge but what kind of country are we going to want to be moving forward," Rubio told Stephanopoulos. "I think the 21st century can be the American century, and I believe that I can lead this country in that direction. I can help lead it there from the Senate. I can lead it there as president.”

Rubio joins U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson; and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as official candidates for the Republican nomination. Former U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton announced on Sunday she was seeking the Democratic nomination.

Later on Monday, Rubio will hold an event at the Freedom Tower in Miami to kickoff the campaign.

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U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy’s, D-Fla., team weighed in on Monday after reports emerged that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., would announce on Monday night that he was running for president and not a second term in the Senate. Murphy announced last month he was running for the Senate regardless of what Rubio did.

“Sen. Marco Rubio just announced he’s running for president,” Josh Wolf, Murphy’s campaign manager, emailed supporters on Monday. “That means he won’t be running against Patrick Murphy for United States Senate in 2016!

“Frankly, it couldn't come a moment sooner. People in Florida are ready for a leader they can count on in the Senate,” Wolf added before showcasing a “farewell card” the Murphy campaign was gathering signatures for. “Marco Rubio is out, and we’re so thankful that he’s taking his anti-marriage equality, Social Security and Medicare-cutting agenda with him.”

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Republican presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, offered kind words for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., as the senator from Florida enters the primaries.

"Marco is a friend and colleague whom I greatly respect,” Cruz said on Monday. “We're both the sons of immigrants who escaped Cuba to build a better life in the United States, and we share a deep appreciation and understanding of what it means to work hard and achieve the American Dream. Marco is a talented communicator and part of a new generation of Republicans stepping forward to promote conservative solutions to our pressing challenges. He is a strong addition to the Republican field, and he will undoubtedly elevate the debate for all of us."

Rubio is expected to launch his presidential bid on Monday night at an event at the Freedom Tower in Miami.

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With U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., expected to launch a presidential bid at an event at the Freedom Tower in Miami on Monday night, conservatives and liberals from across the nation are starting to have their say on his impending campaign.

Erick Erickson over at Red State urged his fellow conservatives not to underestimate Rubio, especially when compared to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who are already off and running for the Republican presidential nomination.

“He has been a voice for fiscal sanity, small government, and strong foreign policy,” Erickson wrote of Rubio. “He is also one of the kindest men approachable in Washington. He would rather talk football than politics. He would rather be with his wife and kids than at a fundraising event or Washington social party.

“Today, Rubio will declare his candidacy for the presidency of the United States,” Erickson continued. “Cruz and Paul have gotten the attention so far. All three of these conservative senators, the grassroots revolutionaries, are announcing ahead of the smorgasbord of governors and other would-be Republican contenders. Rubio’s path to the stage in Miami today explains why he might be better positioned than Cruz or Paul to make some headway.

“Rubio, however, is the original tea party candidate,” Erickson insisted. “His candidacy united the grass roots against the leadership and he won. The Washington crowd convinced themselves he could not win, but the grass roots proved they could pick a winner. Rubio was the first.

“While Cruz and Paul began forging coalitions, Rubio worked to not undermine his relations with the grass roots while not antagonizing the establishment,” Erickson added. “His immigration compromise hurt him, but he seeks the nomination in a party that nominated both Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Mitt Romney, two men to the left of Rubio on immigration.

“Today in Miami, Sen. Marco Rubio will declare his candidacy for the presidency and of the three conservative senators to run, he is most likely the Goldilocks of the bunch,” Erickson concluded. “He is not too tied to the grass roots to antagonize the establishment. He is not too tied to the civil libertarians to antagonize the conservatives. And he has not gone out of his way to reject the base of grassroots supporters who got him elected in order to curry favor with the leadership. He strikes the right balance. He has also been so sufficiently off the radar, by design, for so long that many donors and primary voters will want to listen again to the man who united the right to beat Charlie Crist and the establishment in 2010. They may like what they hear.”

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Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., came out swinging at former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday as she officially launched her presidential campaign. Santorum is looking at making a second try for the Republican nomination.

Santorum’s Patriot Voices PAC hit Clinton in a new video while he drew upon his time in the Senate with her to argue she has no business sitting in the Oval Office.

"I know Hillary Clinton. I served with Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton does not have the right vision to lead America,” Santorum said on Sunday. “I believe we need a president who puts the American worker first, not the corporate interests the Clintons have aligned with. I believe we need a president who stands up for the 75 percent of Americans who will never earn a college degree, not the government bureaucrats who are dictating policy from Washington, D.C., offices. And I believe we need a president who understands it takes a family to rebuild America from the bottom up, and it will not be a village, state, or federal government that makes America great again.

"In the six years I served with Sen. Clinton, one thing was abundantly clear -- Hillary Clinton believes that government is the solution to the challenges our nation faces, not the underlying cause of many of those problems,” Santorum added. “I am committed to working day and night over the next 18 months to ensure our next president is someone who understands the gravity of the challenges we face and has a message that puts hard-working American families first.”

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Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation are lining up behind former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who officially announced her presidential bid on Sunday.

The new candidate can count on the support of U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., who quickly fell in line on Sunday. “There's no better candidate than Hillary Clinton for hard-working American families,” Frankel posted on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., who is running for the U.S. Senate, is also behind Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton is an inspiration to women across this country and a tireless advocate for middle class families,” Murphy posted on Twitter. “I'm ready for Hillary.”

But there is one member of the Florida delegation who will sit on the sidelines in the primary. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., was a key Clinton ally during her 2008 presidential bid but now, as the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), will be neutral until the nomination is official.

“I would like to welcome Hillary Clinton as the first official candidate for president of the United States to seek the Democratic Party's nomination in 2016,” Wasserman Schultz said on Sunday. “As first lady, senator and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton has been a forceful advocate for women, children, and families, and an effective ambassador on the global stage.

“While we expect a competitive primary for the Democratic nomination, one thing is for certain -- next November, voters will face a choice between Democrats who will continue to build on the middle class economic success of President Obama, and Republican candidates who want to bring back the failed, trickle-down economics of the past,” Wasserman Schultz added. “I look forward to the contributions that Sec. Clinton, and all of our eventual candidates, will bring to this debate between two very different visions for the country.”

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U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla. took off the gloves on Friday and went after former Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairwoman Annette Taddeo who launched a challenge to him this week.

“Just this week, failed Democratic lieutenant governor and congressional candidate Annette Taddeo announced she would challenge me in 2016," Curbelo emailed supporters on Friday. “Florida voters rejected Annette in 2014, 2010 and 2008, but she doesn’t seem to be getting the message. Even worse, her million-dollar mansion isn’t even in our district.

Our nation and our community need leaders who will fight to make our economy stronger and keep us safe, not another partisan rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and their deep-pocketed liberal donors," Curbelo added, insisting “national Democrats will do everything in their power to bankroll my opponent.”

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With former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expected to launch her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination this weekend, the Republican National Committee unveiled a new Web video as it launched its “#StopHillary” campaign on Friday.

“From the East Wing to the State Department, Hillary Clinton has left a trail of secrecy, scandal and failed liberal policies that no image consultant can erase,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “Voters want to elect someone they can trust and Hillary's record proves that she cannot be trusted. We must 'stop Hillary.'”

The RNC will be launching an online effort in key swing states, including Florida

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