Sunshine State News Blogs
As the Florida gubernatorial contest enters it final days, Quinnipiac University released a new poll on Thursday morning showing the race remains close. The poll of likely voters shows Democratic challenger former Gov. Charlie Crist with a slight lead over Gov. Rick Scott, thanks to a solid lead with independent voters who break the Democrat's way 47 percent to 29 percent.
Crist takes 43 percent in the new poll while Scott stands at 40 percent, Libertarian Adrian Wyllie takes 8 percent and 9 percent remain undecided. Last week, a Quinnipiac poll showed the race dead even with Scott and Crist mustering 42 percent each.
The poll of 817 likely voters was taken from Oct. 22-27 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.
Is the needle moving in South Florida for two Democratic congressmen?
Prominent political pundit Stuart Rothenberg and Roll Call have made Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo a slight favorite over U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla. In Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rankings released on Wednesday, the race was moved from “Pure Tossup” to “Tossup/Tilts Republican.”
Even as Garcia’s odds are lowered, another Democrat from South Florida continues to become more of a favorite. The rankings also moved U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy’s, D-Fla., odds up against former state Rep. Carl Domino. The race had been pegged as “Favored Democratic” but now it’s “Safe Democrat.”
On Wednesday, legendary singer Pat Boone and the 60 Plus Association, a group focused on senior issues, cheered Carol Platt, the Republican candidate looking to upset U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., in next week’s election.
“I’m still singing at concerts, but today I’m singing the praises of Carol Platt,” Boone said on Wednesday. “Seniors can depend on Carol Platt.”
“Happy to have the support of music legend and senior activist Pat Boone and the 60 Plus Association!” Platt posted on Facebook in response to the news.
Dr. Rudy Moise, best known in Florida political circles for his two unsuccessful bids in the Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. Fredercia Wilson, D-Fla., announced on Wednesday he was backing Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.
“Americans are suffering with pain every day and medical marijuana is a safe, measured and regulated way for patients to be comfortable and live life,” Moise said on Wednesday. “What voters don’t know is that communities with medical marijuana availability have actually seen decreases in crime, decreases in deaths from prescription painkillers, and even decrease in teenage use. We are just beginning to see the many benefits of this miracle medicine!
“The majority of Americans, more than 160 million in 23 states plus the District of Columbia, have the legal right to choose medical marijuana when recommended by their physician for allowed conditions,” Moise added. “However, in Florida the elderly and residents who seek to relieve their suffering with cannabis are considered criminals. This is just wrong and inhumane!”
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., a leading congressional Republican on foreign affairs, came out swinging at the United Nations General Assembly after it voted against the U.S. embargo on the Castro regime.
“For the 23rd time, the representatives at the U.N. General Assembly have demonstrated their disconnection from the realities in Cuba by ignoring gross human rights violations and the lack of fundamental freedoms for the Cuban people as a result of Castro’s tyrannical regime,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Tuesday. “The international community should focus its efforts on being a voice for pro-democracy forces in Cuba and condemn the abuses perpetrated by the regime of Havana.
“The vote at the United Nations General Assembly negligently overlooks the duplicitous behavior of the Castro regime at the international stage when a shipment of military equipment originating from Cuba was intercepted in Panama destined for North Korea, in violation of several U.N. Security Council Resolutions,” Ros-Lehtinen added. “We commend and thank our close friend, the democratic state of Israel, for joining us in voting against this senseless resolution.”
With less than a week left in a close election against former Gov. Charlie Crist, Gov. Rick Scott made a major jobs announcement on Wednesday with news that Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) will create 5,000 new jobs in Pensacola as it invests $350 million in the Panhandle to expand operations.
“Today’s announcement that Navy Federal will create 5,000 more jobs for Floridians is a huge win for the Florida families,” Scott said. “Because of companies like Navy Federal, we have created 651,300 private-sector jobs since December 2010, and we will continue working hard to create jobs so that every Floridian can live the American dream.”
"This is our largest expansion in Pensacola thus far," said Cutler Dawson, the president and CEO of Navy Federal, on Wednesday. “It underscores what we’ve long been saying about this great community -- it’s a great place to grow your business and a wellspring of talented people to employ. Continued growth for Navy Federal not only signifies the strength of the credit union, but also means upholding our high standards for member service. It takes the best to serve the best, and that’s why we continue to invest in Pensacola."
Former Gov. Charlie Crist unveiled an ad featuring former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday -- -but the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) responded on Wednesday with a TV ad of its own showcasing where Crist once stood on Clinton. Back in 1998, when he was the Republican running against U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., Crist was a vocal opponent of Clinton, calling on the president to resign during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
After being caught in the polls by primary rival Marco Rubio, Crist left the GOP during his second unsuccessful Senate bid back in 2010 to continue his campaign with no party affiliation. Crist joined the Democrats at the end of 2012 and is now his new party’s candidate against Gov. Rick Scott in next week’s election.
A conservative like U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., is not exactly the type to praise liberals like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., and Gov. Bruce Rauner, D-Ill. But the North Florida congressman did exactly that, and threw in kind words for Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., and Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., for leading readiness efforts against the Ebola threat. Yoho also contrasted their records with President Barack Obama’s efforts in Florida.
“I commend the governors of New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, and any others who are doing what is necessary to protect their state by requiring a common-sense quarantine/monitoring period for possibly exposed people traveling from endemic regions,” Yoho said on Tuesday. “While a difficult choice, they are doing what is necessary to prevent the spread of this deadly disease, and doing their sworn duty to protect their citizens. I applaud their leadership in the face of the administration's failure to act in a timely manner. Ebola, like so many other issues, will not wait for the president to consult a focus group. So, I commend the governors of these states for taking the common-sense initiative and doing what needs to be done.”
Yoho has been a leading advocate for enacting a temporary travel ban on African nations impacted by Ebola.
On Wednesday, with less than a week left in a close election, Gov. Rick Scott’s team continued to pound away at former Gov. Charlie Crist for taking $90,000 for his campaign from strip club owners. Crist has adamantly refused to return the money.
Scott’s team showcased three activists against human trafficking on Wednesday: Niki Cross, a survivor of human trafficking herself and the founder of STAAR Ministry, Trudy Novicki from Kristi House and Frances Lee of Safe and Free Florida. The three activists released a statement on Crist taking money from strip club owners:
Charlie Crist will say anything to get elected but actions speak louder than words. He has taken $90,000 from strip clubs to fund his campaign, but the problem isn’t the money. It is what it represents. Strip clubs devalue women and are often a place of prostitution, drug use and even human trafficking. Ending human trafficking in Florida won’t just happen because of stricter laws. It will happen when we have a cultural change that has zero-tolerance for any mistreatment, abuse or demeaning of women. That is what we are fighting for every day.
Even as most polls show support for Amendment 2 -- a proposal to expand medical marijuana use in the Sunshine State -- sinking, United for Care, which is behind Amendment 2, released a poll on Tuesday showing the measure with its nose above water.
“With both sides competitive in outreach and advertising, this continues to be a tight race to watch over the final week,” United for Care insisted on Tuesday.
The poll from Anzalone List Grove Research shows Amendment 2 at 62 percent support. To pass, Amendment 2 needs 60 percent support at the ballot. More than a third of those surveyed -- 35 percent -- oppose Amendment 2 while 5 percent are undecided.
The poll of 834 likely voters was taken from Oct. 22-27 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.
Although 50 percent said they wouldn't be willing to pay extra money in higher taxes and fees to generate more money for schools, nearly the same amount (48 percent) say they believe the local community doesn't spend enough on education. Twenty-six percent say local communities spend the right amount of money on education while a smaller percentage -- 16 percent -- say the local community spends too much on education.
Most respondents -- 69 percent -- said they would rate the performance of their child's school as either "excellent" or "good." Twenty-two percent said they'd rate the performance of their child's school as "fair" and only 6 percent would rate the performance of their child's school as "poor."
But when it came to rating the performance of elementary and secondary schools in America, the majority -- 66 percent -- rated schools as either "fair" or "poor" while 26 percent rated schools as "good." Only 4 percent said the performance of America's elementary and secondary schools was "excellent."
The survey of 1,000 American adults was conducted Oct. 22-23 by Rasmussen Reports.
Fresh from campaigning with former Gov. Charlie Crist on Sunday, former President Bill Clinton is showcased in a new TV spot for the Democrat as he tries to defeat Gov. Rick Scott in next week’s election.
“A governor who fights for those at the very top or a governor who fights for families like yours, that’s the choice,” Clinton says in the ad. "Charlie Crist is known as the ‘people’s governor’ because he really cares about making your life better. Look, he didn’t cause the Great Recession, but he did work hard to get folks back to work and he cut property taxes and put more into schools. He got things done by bringing people together. It can be that way again. I hope you will stand with Charlie. He needs your vote today.”
When campaigning for the U.S. Senate in 1998, Crist, then a Republican, called for Clinton’s resignation during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
View the video below:
Despite being a freshman, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., could be moving up the Democratic leadership ladder as her name emerges as a contender to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
Roll Call reported on Tuesday that Frankel is a serious contender to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., in leading the DCCC, the Democratic Party’s chief effort in recruiting new candidates, protecting incumbents and coordinating fundraising and campaign efforts.
“I am focused right now on electing as many Democrats to Congress as possible for the 2014 cycle,” Frankel told Roll Call. “I will be honored to continue these efforts going forward in whatever capacity I can be most helpful.”
But Frankel did not tell Roll Call that she wasn’t interested in leading the DCCC. U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will choose the DCCC chair. Other names in contention include: U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., U.S. Rep, Joseph P. Kennedy, D-Mass., and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is featured in a new ad from the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) running across the Sunshine State. The ad showcases Giuliani’s support of Gov. Rick Scott as he faces a challenge from former Gov. Charlie Crist.
“I’ve met a lot of people in politics,” Giuliani says in the ad. “I worked for President Ronald Reagan. I was mayor of New York City. I was United States attorney for 2,000 years or something. I’ve met a lot of good people; I’ve met a lot of bad people. I’ve met people in politics that are wonderful. I’ve met people in politics that are OK. And I’ve met people in politics that I don’t like. I’ve never met a person in politics that I disrespect more than Charlie Crist.”
The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a conservative group, launched a new TV ad running in Tallahassee and Panama City, hitting Gwen Graham, the Democrat challenging U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., in next week’s election. The ad ties Graham to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“Behind Gwen Graham’s rhetoric is a campaign bank account full of money from Nancy Pelosi and her Washington leadership team,” CLF noted. “Given Gwen Graham’s history of backing liberal Democrats and welcoming their money, it’s no wonder she supports Obamacare.”
A new poll of likely voters shows Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana use in the Sunshine State, is in trouble in next week’s election.
Gravis Marketing released a poll on Monday which shows only 50 percent of likely voters plan to support Amendment 2 while 42 percent say they oppose it. The remaining 8 percent of voters remain undecided on the proposal.
For Amendment 2 to be added to the Florida Constitution, 60 percent of voters have to support it on the November ballot -- meaning if 42 percent oppose it, as the poll shows, it will be defeated.
“With only eight days remaining until the election, a powerful 8 percent of undecided voters might hold the key to whether or not this ballot initiative passes or fails to receive the mandatory 60 percent support needed to make a change to the state of Florida’s Constitution,” Gravis noted.
The poll of 861 likely voters was taken from Oct. 22-24 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
Sunshine State News took to the national airwaves on Monday as your humble blogger appeared on “Midpoint” with Ed Berliner on NewsmaxTV. We discussed the role Christian conservatives will play in the 2014 elections, recount possibilities and key U.S. Senate races.
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) released an ad on Monday attacking former Gov. Charlie Crist for accepting campaign cash from strip club owners. Crist is running neck and neck in the polls with Gov. Rick Scott.
“Three weeks ago I called on Charlie Crist to return the donations he received from strip club owners who have abused and exploited women, and whose industry promotes sex trafficking, which destroys the lives of thousands of women in Florida,” Leslie Dougher, the chairwoman of the RPOF, said on Monday. “Charlie Crist tried to hide his dirty strip club cash, and only when pushed did he sheepishly admit that he’s refusing to return it. Crist is all talk and no action and his empty rhetoric on women’s issues is insulting but not surprising. If Charlie Crist had any shred of decency left, he would immediately return the dirty strip club cash.”
In the op-ed, Bush outlines how he spearheaded the Acceler8 plan which would increase storage and treatment reservoirs for the Caloosahatchee, St. Lucie and Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) regions.
Bush says the plan was on track to restore the Everglades until Crist came into office -- then the plan came to a halt. Crist stopped Acceler8 midway, leaving several projects unfinished and abandoned.
"Rather than focus on what the Everglades needed and the projects already under way, Charlie Crist had an irresponsible plan to spend $1.75 billion on land and assets that the state could not afford," wrote Bush. "From the day the boondoggle deal was announced, Everglades restoration stalled out, stuck in litigation and political controversy.
"Like many of his failed initiatives while in office, Charlie Crist’s $1.75-billion proposal to buy out the U.S. Sugar Corp. was nakedly political, lacked a thoughtful plan or vision for achieving results and contained astronomical hidden costs for taxpayers," wrote Bush.
Since Crist decided not to run for re-election, Bush said Gov. Rick Scott took the reins and made the restoration of the Everglades a top priority.
In closing, Bush said the governorships of Scott and Crist are widely different -- and Crist's is one Florida won't want to repeat.
"In an effort to grab headlines, Crist undermined Florida’s history of comprehensively and aggressively working to restore the River of Grass," he wrote. "We know exactly what four more years of Charlie Crist would bring -- empty promises, petty political gamesmanship and initiatives Florida cannot afford."
Facing a major challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., played up safety issues in a new TV ad released on Monday.
“The first obligation of government is to keep us safe,” the narrator of the ad says. “But look around: open borders, threats of terrorism, Ebola. Obama has no plan. Pelosi just points fingers.This election is about our safety, our future. Can you trust Obama, Pelosi and Gwen Graham to protect us? The stakes are high. Steve Southerland is the leader we need.”
“Now more than ever, we need representatives in Congress who are willing to confront challenges to our nation’s security,” Luke Strickland, Southerland’s campaign manager, said. “Steve Southerland has voted to seal our borders, authorized military action to defeat ISIS, and urged travel restrictions from West African nations ravaged by Ebola. That’s the type of steady leadership we need in Congress. We can’t afford anything less.”
With barely a week to go in a close race against former Gov. Charlie Crist, Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his plan for Florida’s future on Monday. Scott’s plan calls for $1 billion in tax cuts, $1 billion in additional port investments, adding $25 billion to Florida’s highways and roads, keeping college tuition where it is and increasing per-pupil spending. Scott’s 2020 plan can be read here.
“I get to travel the state every day and talk to people all over Florida about what they want – they want to move our state forward,” Scott said on Monday. “The Florida 2020 plan is just that – a clear vision to move Florida forward, to continue building our state to be the best place in the country to find a great job, start a family, and give our kids a world-class education.”
From his perch on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., has turned his focus on the Ebola threat in recent days. At the end of last week, Bilirakis called for President Barack Obama to work with local governments in readying for the threat.
“I am deeply concerned about the threat Ebola poses to public health,” Bilirakis said on Friday. “In order to guarantee no further importation to the U.S., the Ebola virus must be immediately eradicated in West Africa. Here at home, the administration must coordinate with local governments and health-care providers in a proactive manner to ensure our doctors, nurses, and other health-care professionals have the training and resources available to adequately diagnose and treat infected patients.
“I want to do my part to help our local health-care officials and first responders have the tools available to address any potential outbreak in the Tampa Bay area,” Bilirakis added. “I received valuable input from all of the participants, and have great confidence these men and women will do what is necessary to ensure public health and safety. I will continue to work in close conjunction with all appropriate federal, state, and local entities to ensure cooperation and the readiness of the greater Tampa Bay area."
To that end, Bilirakis hosted a round table on Friday to focus on the threat. Bilirakis joined other members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday in sending a letter to Obama and other officials asking for answers on the threat.
“With a series of questions and recommendations to ensure that the U.S. response to the risks posed by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is as effective as possible in protecting the public health and safety of the American people,” the committee members wrote, “Congress stands ready to serve as a strong and solid partner in solving this crisis.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., takes aim at old rival former Gov. Charlie Crist in a new TV ad in Spanish launched by the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) on Friday. Rubio links Crist to President Barack Obama in the ad and urges Floridians to vote for Gov. Rick Scott.
“I was the speaker of the House of Representatives during the first two years of Charlie Crist as governor,” Rubio says in a translation provided by the RPOF. “It was a disaster, property values falling, people losing their jobs, very high unemployment rates. We can’t let this state to go back to where it was just five, six years ago, when he was governor, and we did not have any serious solutions. The only way for Barack Obama and Charlie Crist to be able to win is for you not to vote. I vote in this county and in a few minutes I will go to vote for Rick Scott and I urge you all to do the same.”
Despite Crist’s initial lead, Rubio caught him in the 2010 Republican primary in the U.S. Senate race. After Rubio took the lead, Crist abandoned the GOP to run for the Senate with no party affiliation. Crist joined the Democrats at the end of 2012.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., offered a warning that Miami International Airport (MIA) needs to focus on Ebola preparedness. Conceding that it is unlikely that travelers from West African nations impacted by Ebola will be traveling through South Florida, Ros-Lehtinen noted that travelers from Latin America, especially doctors from Cuba, could be a different story. To that end, Ros-Lehtinen wrote MIA Director Emilio Gonzalez this week.
“Our community must be ready for any eventuality and that includes the possible spread of the Ebola virus from a Latin American country,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Thursday. “The Castro regime’s decision to send Cuban doctors in a thinly disguised propaganda attempt may put the region and South Florida at risk. MIA should have up-to-date equipment and plans to ensure that any Ebola outbreak is contained and managed in a professional manner to protect our community.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is hitting the airwaves in two states holding competitive U.S. Senate races as the GOP looks to wrest control from the Democrats.
Using his Reclaim America PAC, Rubio is running a TV ad in Iowa supporting Joni Ernst, the Republican looking to win the seat held by retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Rubio has left the door open to running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and Iowa holds the first caucus that kicks off the procession of states that determine the presidential nominee.
Rubio is also running an ad in Colorado for U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., the Republican candidate looking to defeat U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.
“These ads are up when it counts the most,” Rubio emailed supporters on Thursday. “Joni and Cory are in tight races against their well-funded opponents and we need to make sure that voters know they are the best individuals to represent them in the United States Senate.”
From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., offered his thoughts on Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the gunman who attacked the Canadian Parliament on Wednesday. In his rampage, Zehaf-Bibeau, a recent convert to Islam, killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.
“Our neighbors to the north have a long history of standing by America in good times and bad,” Rubio said on Thursday. “Canada has been by America’s side in our struggle against violent jihadists. Since 9/11, Canadian servicemen and women have shed blood in the fight against Islamic extremism, and we stand with them during this difficult period and pledge our unwavering support as we join them in mourning the fallen.
“The attacks of recent days in Canada as well as the horrible attack on pedestrians, including Americans, on a Jerusalem street yesterday are yet another painful reminder that declaring wars to be over does not end them,” Rubio added. “Radical jihadists remain committed to waging war against anyone who does not share their warped ideology, which is why we must defeat them wherever they reside and work to reduce the risk of self-radicalization of individuals in our societies.”
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) launched a new TV ad on Thursday, hitting former Gov. Charlie Crist’s economic record. Polls show Crist, the Democratic nominee after spending most of his political life with the GOP, and Gov. Rick Scott running close.
In Tuesday’s debate with Scott, Crist brushed off attacks on his economic record, insisting he was not responsible for the bad times as the recession impacted more than Florida. The ad points to decisions Crist made as worsening the Sunshine State’s problems.
“Charlie made bad decisions that hurt people, raising taxes, cutting education and piling up debt,” the narrator of the ad says.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., teamed up with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., on Wednesday to chide U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s plans to send $150 million to the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA) over its role in actions directed against Israel. The senators pointed to three cases of rockets at a UNRWA facility in Gaza and wrote Kerry to demand taxpayer dollars won‘t be used against Israel.
“Given UNRWA’s record and the absence of an independent investigation into its actions during the conflict, we were dumbfounded when, on October 12th, you reiterated, without any qualification, that the United States would provide more than $150 million to UNRWA programs in Gaza,” the senators wrote Kerry on Wednesday. “This blind support sends the wrong message to an institution that has already become far too dependent on the largesse of the American taxpayer and repeatedly failed to ensure that its facilities and resources are not used by terrorists who wish to sow chaos and instability rather than aid the Palestinian people.
“The United States should assist the people of Gaza as they rebuild after yet another Hamas-caused conflict. But this support cannot come at the expense of Israel’s security,” the senators continued. “We will not support the provision of future U.S. assistance to entities or projects in Gaza unless the State Department assures Congress that UNRWA or the relevant recipient entity has imposed independently audited accountability measures to verifiably prevent any U.S. assistance from aiding, directly or indirectly, extremists’ efforts to re-arm or lay the groundwork for future attacks against Israel.”
Using his Allen West Guardian Fund PAC, former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., went to bat for Glo Smith, the Republican candidate running against U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., on Wednesday. West included Smith in his “races to watch” list in addition to the 14 candidates he endorsed.
“These men and women are precisely what our nation needs in positions of leadership,” West emailed supporters on Wednesday. “They bring fresh, new veteran and minority voices to the national debate, but most importantly they stand steadfast for our constitutional principles of a strong national defense, unfettered free market and a government controlled by the people -- not the other way around.”
West offered his supporters a quick introduction to Smith.
“Growing up in the poorest part of Jacksonville, Glo was no stranger to poverty as a child,” West wrote. “Before her mother remarried, their large family was living off a single mother's salary and was dependent upon government assistance. For years, Glo's mother relied on government provisions and commodities to feed and care for her children. Regardless of the financial hardship, Glo was determined to succeed, was inspired to establish her career as a public servant.
“Glo obtained a master's of business administration degree and launched a 30-year career in public service and entrepreneurship,” West added. “As an entrepreneur, Glo started a small business. In an effort to help others succeed, she developed curriculum for the University of North Florida's Small Business Resource Center.”