Sunshine State News Blogs

The Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) endorsed Florida CFO Jeff Atwater for another term on Tuesday, praising his record on crime issues including combating insurance fraud.

“In just four years, CFO Atwater has made thousands of insurance fraud arrests and has shut down more than 150 organized crime rings,” said Amy Mercer, the executive director of the FPCA. “He has demonstrated his strong support of Florida’s law enforcement, and we are fortunate to have his leadership and commitment to our state’s safety.”

Atwater faces Democrat William Rankin in November.
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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced on Tuesday that his Reclaim America PAC endorsed former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who is running in New Hampshire against U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.. Rubio has garnered buzz as a possible presidential hopeful in 2016, and New Hampshire is home to the first presidential primary.

“I’m proud to announce that Scott Brown is my Reclaim America PAC’s newest endorsement for the United States Senate in 2014,” Rubio wrote supporters on Tuesday. “Scott is running for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire and is under attack by national Democrats with virtually unlimited funds. They are sinking everything they have into this race because it is a must-win for them. But, Scott is the kind of candidate that can win in a tough race like this -- just like he proved in 2010.

“I had the pleasure of working closely with Scott Brown for two years in the Senate and came to trust him and know him as a strong independent thinker,” Rubio added. “Scott’s 35 years of military service in the National Guard gives him unique perspective on the national security challenges America faces in the 21st century and knows what it takes to protect America.”
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Currently chairing the Republican Governors Association (RGA), Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., continues to garner buzz about a presidential bid in 2016. His schedule this week will only make the buzz grow louder since he will be campaigning in two key primary states: Florida and New Hampshire.

Christie will campaign with Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., in West Palm Beach and Miami on Wednesday.

Scott isn't the only one Christie will be hitting the campaign trail for -- on Friday, he will be in New Hampshire with Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein in Berlin and Lancaster. Christie will also campaign with Gov. Tom Corbett, R-Pa., on Thursday and in Rhode Island for gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung on Friday.
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With buzz continuing about a presidential bid in 2016, former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., now the chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, will head to Washington, D.C., next month to host the 2014 National Summit on Education Reform.

“This year marks the 60th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision,” Bush said on Monday. “Yet, the fight for a quality education for all students continues today. Education in America remains a system where far too many students remain stuck in failing schools.

“We need a system driven from the bottom-up by families, a system that is organized around the individual success of each and every student,” Bush added. “We need a system that recognizes and rewards incredible teachers, and ensures they are in classrooms with students who most need their skills. These are some of the most critical challenges in education today, and they are the conversations we will have at our 2014 National Summit on Education Reform.”

Bush will keynote the event which will be held from Nov. 20-21.
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Florida TaxWatch released a report on Tuesday showing how the rising number of elderly prisoners adds to the budget.

"Community safety is the first thing to consider when addressing criminal justice reform, but Florida has options to reduce costs and actually improve public safety," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, on Tuesday. "Florida taxpayers and policymakers must understand the rapidly incurring costs that accompany aging prisoners so that smart policies can be pursued that prevent either ballooning costs or quick fixes to jeopardize the safety and security of Florida citizens."

The report notes by the end of next year, Florida will have almost 25,000 elderly prisoners, each of whom will have around $11,000 in health costs each year. Florida TaxWatch recommended early release for elderly nonviolent criminals who are close to being released or requiring more intense medical care.

"Understanding the future obligations Florida taxpayers will have for the criminal justice system will ensure our policymakers are prepared to budget for corrections costs," Calabro said.

The report can be read here.

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Despite a patient in Miami being diagnosed as negative after being tested for Ebola, Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., issued an update on Monday afternoon about Florida’s efforts against the virus.

“We are glad to hear that the test for the Miami patient was indeed negative for Ebola and we are hopeful that further CDC and Department of Health analysis will back up this preliminary negative result later this week,” Scott said. “While we have no confirmed cases of Ebola in Florida, we are continuing to take every step possible to best protect our citizens and our tourists.”

Scott also noted he was working with Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, on the matter.

“Today, I spoke to Texas Gov. Rick Perry about what their state has learned from responding to the confirmed Ebola patient in Dallas,” Scott said. “We will stay in communication with Texas officials as their response and treatment efforts continue to develop. Florida state agencies also held conference calls with our state’s airport and port leaders today to share information on preparedness steps at each of their facilities. Supporting the preparedness efforts of our airports and our ports means we must have a tremendous partnership between the state, federal officials and local leaders on the ground. We will continue to communicate regularly with these leaders in the days ahead as Florida continues to hope for the best even while we prepare for the worst.”
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The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) released a new TV spot on Monday defending Gov. Rick Scott from the attacks of former Gov. Charlie Crist, insisting the Democratic candidate only can offer attacks.

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"After all these attack ads, Charlie Crist wants you to hate me," Scott says in the ad. "I guess that’s all he’s got. The race is not about Charlie or me. It’s about you and your family. Together we’re turning Florida around.

“Without a record to run on, Charlie Crist wants to make voters hate Rick Scott,” said Leslie Dougher, the chairwoman of the RPOF, on Monday. “But this election isn’t about Rick Scott or Charlie Crist; it’s about the people of Florida. And under Rick Scott, hundreds of thousands of Floridians have new jobs, the tax burden on Florida families is lighter, tourists from all over the world are flocking to this state once again, and our students are given the resources they need to pursue their version of the American dream. This election is a fight for the future of all Floridians and we can’t afford to turn back the clock.”
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Former Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed Bob Cortes, the Republican candidate running against state Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, D-Maitland, on Monday.

“Bob Cortes knows that for Florida’s future success, we must have world-class schools,” said Bush. “Bob has shown a commitment to improving the quality of education for all Florida children through strong accountability and more parental choice, elements that are key to improving student learning.”

“I am humbled to have the endorsement and support of Gov. Bush,” said Bob Cortes. “He has been instrumental in transforming Florida’s schools and the lives of many children who otherwise may not have been given a chance. We can never rest until Florida’s schools are rated as the best in the world.”

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a possible Republican presidential hopeful in 2016, wrote Panama President Juan Carlos Varela on Monday, asking him to cancel an invitation to the Summit of the Americas which Panama hosts in 2015.

“The Cuban regime’s record of human rights abuses and violations of international law are not matters open for debate, but undeniable and appalling facts,” Rubio wrote. “Therefore, Cuba’s participation in the Summit of the Americas in Panama will undermine its credibility and have grave consequences for the region’s consensus to promote and defend democratic rule.

“I urge you to avoid this outcome, and instead work with the Cuban people to support their demands for a democratic future for their country,” Rubio added.

Cuba was not included in the last Summit of the Americas which was hosted by Colombia in 2012. Numerous participants, including the nine-member Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) insisted Cuba be included in the next summit.
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The Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) announced it was backing Republicans in congressional races across the Sunshine State. In some of the most competitive elections in Florida, AIF endorsed U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., over Democrat Gwen Graham, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo over U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., and former state Rep. Carl Domino over U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla.

“We’re proud to announce our endorsements for U.S. Congress for the 2014 election cycle,” said former U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, the president and CEO of AIF, on Monday. “These candidates all share the same beliefs as AIF in terms of fostering a pro-business environment, where businesses have the opportunity to flourish by limiting government waste and spending, reducing taxes and frivolous regulation, as well as growing private-sector jobs and economic prosperity.”

“Not only is it imperative that we protect and build upon manufacturing and technology jobs, it is vital that we continue to protect and enhance our water, health care and immigration policies to name a few,” added Feeney. “And, we will remain vigilant in our efforts to continue to shine light on these important issues facing Floridians in our nation’s capital.”

“At AIF, our focus on federal issues that affect businesses in our Sunshine State is equally as important as the legislative initiatives we face here at the state level,” said Brewster Bevis, the senior VP of state and federal affairs for AIF. “Electing this slate of candidates will be key for businesses across the nation in ensuring businesses are not stifled, and our Florida businesses are able to continue to grow and build upon the existing workforce.”    

AIF also backed the following Republican members of Congress: Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Ander Crenshaw, Ron DeSantis, Mario Diaz-Balart, David Jolly, Jeff Miller, John Mica, Rich Nugent, Bill Posey, Tom Rooney, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Dennis Ross, Dan Webster and Ted Yoho.
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CNN announced Monday it will be airing a midterm debate between former Gov. Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott taking place on Oct. 21 in Jacksonville.

The hour-long debate will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET on CNN as well as WJXT in Jacksonville. 

According to the network, chief Washington correspondent and anchor of "The Lead" Jake Tapper will moderate the debate. WJXT anchor Kent Justice will join as co-moderator.

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On Friday, former Gov. Gary Johnson, R-N.M., the Libertarian presidential candidate in 2012, endorsed Bill Wohlsifer, the Libertarian candidate challenging Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in November. Johnson, who took 1 percent of the popular vote in 2012, has left the door open to running again for president in 2016.

“Bill is a fierce proponent for fiscal responsibility, civil liberties and rational public policy,” Johnson said.

Johnson also praised Wohlsifer, an attorney based in Tallahassee, for his record on fighting for medical marijuana.
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New Rasmussen Reports poll data suggests most Americans would be in favor of a temporary flight ban from Ebola-infected countries in Africa, where the death toll from the deadly virus has risen to over 3,000. 

More than half of those surveyed (58 percent) say they'd be in favor of a temporary flight ban of all flights coming from countries where there are confirmed Ebola infections, while 24 percent say they don't think there should be such a ban. Seventeen percent are undecided. 

Most Americans are at least somewhat concerned personally about the threat of the virus, a number which has climbed from 51 percent in mid-September. 

At the end of September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared its first case of Ebola in the United States: an infected man traveling from Liberia to Texas. Contacts of the patient have been quarantined for 21 days to see if they show symptoms of the virus. 

The survey of 1,000 adults was conducted Oct. 4-5 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.
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U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., is facing a serious challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham in November but his campaign released an internal poll on Monday showing the Republican with the lead.

Southerland’s team unveiled a poll of likely voters from National Research showing Southerland taking 45 percent and Graham garnering 39 percent. Despite the sample containing 50 percent Democrats, 34 percent Republicans and 16 percent of voters from outside the two major parties, the poll shows North Florida voters are not happy with President Barack Obama and his signature health-care law. A majority of those surveyed -- 53 percent -- disapprove of Obama while 42 percent approve of him. The health care law gets the support of only 39 percent of those surveyed while 52 percent oppose it. In recent days, Southerland’s campaign and its allies have pummeled Graham, trying to link her to Obama’s health-care law.

The poll of 400 likely voters was taken from Oct. 1-2 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.
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Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi released a new TV ad on Monday, the second one of her campaign. The new spot focuses on Bondi’s efforts to crack down on human trafficking.

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“Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has taken an aggressive approach in efforts to make Florida a zero-tolerance state in human trafficking, forming partnerships with truckers, hoteliers and convenience store owners to identify those who may be involved in human trafficking,” said Pablo Diaz, Bondi’s campaign manager, on Monday. “(Attorney) General Bondi’s work also led to the formation of a 15-member Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, of which she is chair, that is bringing together business leaders, hospital personnel, law enforcement officials, and those in the fields of health, education and social services to combat this issue.”

Bondi faces former DCF Secretary George Sheldon, the Democratic nominee, and Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer, an attorney from Tallahassee, in November’s election.
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Concerned about the rise of Ebola, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., called for restricting travel with Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea on Monday.
Pointing to warnings issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Buchanan said more needs to be done.

“It makes sense for the government to conduct tighter screening of those trying to enter our country from Ebola-ravaged nations,” Buchanan said.

“We can keep Americans safe and show compassion by continuing to send in medical supplies to help African nations battling the deadly virus,” Buchanan added. “I hope the FAA and other government agencies are reviewing all available options to keep the outbreak from spreading in the United States.”

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These are not exactly halcyon days for the Jacksonville Jaguars as they continue ranking as one of the worst teams in the National Football League (NFL). While there are some intriguing storylines -- including the development of rookie quarterback Blake Bortles -- the Jaguars have started the season 0-5 after finishing 4-12 last year and 2-14 the year before.

One of the few highlights of recent Jaguars seasons has been Jaxson de Ville, one of the best mascots in all of professional sports. From performing dramatic leaps to challenging professional golfers in driving contests, to even being a footnote to the Jags’ first trip to the playoffs in their second season when Morton Anderson of the Atlanta Falcons missed a field goal, Jaxson has always been entertaining in his two decades of service to the team.

Except for Sunday, when the Jags hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers and lost 17-9 (sadly, the closest loss of the season). Jaxson de Ville carried a sign mocking Steelers fans and their “terrible towels.” Who thought it was a good idea for the mascot to carry a sign which claimed “TOWELS CARRY EBOLA,” especially as fears of that disease are rising across the nation?

The story went national, of course. ESPN has some of the details.

It’s one more headache for the Jags and their increasingly frustrated fan base (including your humble blogger). Gus Bradley has gone 4-17 as head coach. Despite a solid outing on Sunday, the defense, which was supposed to be a strength, has been awful this season. GM Dave Caldwell keeps insisting the arrow is up but high-profile free agents haven’t preformed on the offensive line and in the running game which managed to pile up a woeful 56 yards on Sunday. While Bortles is progressing nicely, some of the recent draft picks -- including Luke Joeckel who was the second pick in last year’s draft -- simply aren’t performing up to expectations, while Justin Blackmon -- who looked like a star when he actually played -- has various substance abuse problems keeping him off the field.

And now even the mascot is a problem. The season is barely past the quarter post mark and the Jags are once again irrelevant and something of a punchline.

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Appearing on “Fox and Friends” on Fox News on Friday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said President Barack Obama was standing in the way of economic recovery and noted Democrats are treating him like a liability, not appearing with him on the campaign trail.

“Do you think the president has got a strong case?" Brian Kilmeade of Fox News asked. “After all, unemployment is down, revenue is up. He feels Obamacare is popular. Do you think the president has got a strong case?”

“Well, let me tell you why I know he doesn’t have a strong case,” Rubio answered. “None of these candidates are campaigning with him. If, in fact, his policies were working out so well, they’d all want him to come into their states and campaign with them. And in fact, they either don’t want him to come, or when he comes to their states they all-out avoid him. Why aren’t they campaigning on these things? Why aren’t they bragging about Obamacare in their ads? Instead, they want their campaigns to be about all sorts of other issues.

“Look, here is the bottom line,” Rubio added. “This country is not doing as well as it should be doing. This new century should be an American century. This is a country right now that should be creating millions of jobs. We shouldn’t have to be forcing companies to stay here in this country, and a lot of them are now leaving because of our tax code and so forth. We’re in a position where we are not fulfilling our potential as a nation or as a people. This should also be an American century. This 21st century is an exciting time. We are not taking full advantage of all of the opportunities of this new era, and a lot of that is because of flawed policies of big government that this president and his allies in the Senate have pursued.”
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The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) backed state CFO Jeff Atwater for a second term over Democratic opponent William Rankin.

"CFO Atwater is committed to supporting small-business priorities and ensuring that Florida maintains its pro-small-business climate,” said Bill Herrle, the NFIB’s Florida chapter’s executive director, on Monday.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of NFIB and will remain steadfast in my commitment to fostering an environment where small business can thrive,” Atwater said. “As I like to say, the welcome mat is always out in the Sunshine State.”
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Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., announced on Friday that he was backing U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., for a third term in Congress. Bush is a possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

“Dennis Ross is the type of proven and experienced leader that we need more of in Washington,” said Bush. “Since first being elected to Congress, Dennis has shown a dedication to serving his constituents and a willingness to put principle above politics in order to do what is right for Florida. His commitment to balancing the budget and restoring our economy is exactly what we need in Congress. I’m pleased to support his re-election.”

"I appreciate Gov. Bush’s continued support of my efforts in Washington to solve so many of the problems we are facing,” said Ross. “Too much time is wasted in Congress with bickering and political games. It’s time to work together to craft common-sense conservative solutions to tackle America’s biggest challenges.”

Ross faces Democrat Alan Cohn, a former TV reporter, in November’s general election.
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Gov. Rick Scott and his career as a businessman are just too shady for Florida, according to a new ad that dropped from the Florida Democratic Party on Friday.

The ad, titled "Price," follows a familiar line of attack from the FDP, which has been highly critical of Scott's time as CEO of a health care corporation. In 1997, while Scott was CEO, the company was part of a fraud investigation which ultimately resulted in a $2 billion fine.

"Price" features various news clips discussing the lawsuit, one of which says the company was specifically training its executives to "basically steal from the government."

Scott, the ad says, walked away with millions. 

According to Charlie Crist's Communications Director Brendan Gilfillian, Scott's past has everything to do with the future of the Sunshine State.

“Rick Scott’s pattern of looking out for himself and his friends, dodging accountability, and leaving seniors and middle class families to foot the bill has continued in Tallahassee," he said.

Check the ad out below: 
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U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., launched a new TV ad on Friday which will be hitting airwaves around Tampa Bay this weekend. In the ad, Buchanan stresses his background and commitment to job creation and expanding opportunities; he also slams the “dysfunction in Washington.” 

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In November, Buchanan faces Democratic foe Henry Lawrence, a former professional football player, and tea party activist and disabled veteran Daniel Durso, who is running with no party affiliation.
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The Vote No on 2 Campaign unveiled a new TV ad on Friday to criticize Amendment 2, which would expand medical marijuana use in the Sunshine State.

The ad features Dr. Madelyn Butler, past president of the Florida Medical Association, who attacks the amendment, insisting it has too many loopholes and does not require medical approval to distribute marijuana.

"This ad delivers an important warning that Floridians need to hear before they are confronted by Amendment 2 on the ballot this November,” said Sarah Bascom, a spokeswoman for the Vote No on 2 Campaign. “That once you wade through all of the trickery surrounding this amendment, you realize it’s simply pot for any purpose. And, coming straight from a highly-respected doctor, this is a warning that quite frankly cannot be ignored.”

Amendment 2 needs 60 percent on the November ballot to be adopted.

Check out the TV spot below:

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On Thursday, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie played up his commitment to Amendment 2, a proposal Floridians will vote on in November to expand medical marijuana. In a video his campaign released on Thursday, Wyllie also noted that he supports marijuana legalization in general.

“I support Amendment 2,” Wyllie says in the video. “I don't believe that anyone, especially not government, should interfere with the decisions that you and your doctor make about your health-care treatment.

“But I'm also the only candidate in this race who supports full legalization of marijuana. I believe it's a freedom issue: that government doesn't have the authority to tell you what you can or can't put into your own body, so long as you're not harming anyone else,” Wyllie adds. “And I also look at if from a perspective of how we can better our society. If we were to legalize marijuana, we could eliminate the associated crime, the violence, the incarceration rate, the overcrowding of our court system and also save millions, perhaps billions, of dollars in enforcement.

“You know, in a historical context, the only time that people were killing each other in the streets over alcohol was during Prohibition. That's what we have today,” Wyllie continues. “I think we'll find that legalizing marijuana will result in less crime, less violence, and a safer and more prosperous Florida.”

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The U.S. unemployment rate hit its lowest in six years during the month of September, according to new numbers released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate has dropped from 6.6 percent since the beginning of the year. 

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 248,000 in September. Other industries saw growth as well, including health care, retail trade and business services.  

See the full report here.
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Noting that the “Audit the Fed" bill overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, called on U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to let the Senate vote on the bill. Paul, who ran for president three times, was the chief backer of “Audit the Fed” during his years in Congress. The Senate version is currently being championed by his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

“Unfortunately, despite telling voters in a debate during your heated re-election campaign in 2010 that you support auditing the Fed and even called for a Fed audit in 1987, you have prevented this legislation from having the simple up-or-down vote it deserves in the Senate as a standalone bill since the 111th Congress,” Paul, now the chairman of the Campaign for Liberty, wrote Reid on Thursday. “Again, I would urge you to act quickly to do what is right politically, philosophically, and economically for our country by scheduling a vote on S 209, or its House counterpart, at the beginning of the lame-duck session.”
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Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., continued his political activities on Thursday as buzz continues to build that he could run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Bush sent out a fundraising email for Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the Republican and Conservative Party of New York State (CPNYS) candidate looking to upset Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., in November.

Bush played up Florida’s economic strengths and contrasted them with the Empire State.

“On the campaign trail, Rob Astorino has been asking New Yorkers a simple question: As a state, is New York winning or is New York losing?” Bush wrote. “When you compare New York to states like North Carolina, Texas and North Dakota -- or my home state of Florida -- how does New York measure up in the categories that matter?

“The answer is not very well. Very poorly, in fact,” Bush continued. “New York ranks at the bottom of the pack in so many key areas: It has the highest property taxes in America and the highest overall taxes in the country. It’s ranked as having the ‘Worst Economic Outlook’ in America, and it ranks 47th in business climate. It should come as no surprise, then, that New York is also ranked the worst place in the nation to retire.

“A strong governor can make a tremendous difference in turning a state around,” Bush added. “With pro-growth fiscal policies, a quality education system and lower taxes, there is no reason why New York cannot rebound as an economic powerhouse. We did it in Florida. You can do it in New York.”

Bush praised Astorino for backing “smarter, more efficient government and lower taxes, resulting in more than 30,000 new, well-paying private sector jobs for the area” and pointed toward how Republican governors across the nation have led their states.

“Republicans governors around America are transforming their states into pro-growth, job-friendly destinations to live, work and retire,” Bush wrote. “Those are the states that are winning. States that continue to tax, spend and overregulate -- like New York -- continue to lose jobs as their families struggle and economies stagnate.

“New York has always been a winning state. But bad tax, fiscal and regulatory policies have weighed it down to the point where it can no longer compete against other states,” Bush concluded. “New York’s comeback begins with Rob Astorino’s election as the next governor of the Empire State.”
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Roll Call released its latest list of the most vulnerable congressmen and U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., who is facing a major challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham, made the top 10.

Roll Call ranks the lists as “tilts Republican" in its look at the race:

Privately, national Republican operatives cite Southerland as the GOP member they fret won’t come back to Congress. He faces a fierce contender in attorney Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham. This is still a tough district for a Democrat, and ousting Southerland will take a herculean effort on the part of Graham, the DCCC and outside groups. But this is a rare offensive spot on the map for Democrats in an otherwise crummy cycle for the party.

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., almost made the top 10 in South Florida where he faces Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo:

The only reason scandal-plagued Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., is not on the list is because his Republican opponent, Carlos Curbelo, called Social Security a Ponzi scheme. Watch for this one to get nasty in the coming weeks.
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Former President George W. Bush appeared on Fox News on Thursday morning and said he is encouraging his brother, former Gov. Jeb Bush, to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

The former president said he does think his brother has made up his mind on whether to run but added the former Florida governor understands the responsibilities of sitting in the White House.

“I think he wants to be president,’” George Bush said. “I think [Jeb would] be a great president. He understands what it’s like to be president.”

Politico has the details.
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With U.S. VA Secretary Robert McDonald touring Florida on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., met with him and had kind words for the new VA secretary. McDonald took over the VA when Eric Shinseki resigned after reports of altered waiting lists at VA medical facilities across the nation.

“I was relieved that McDonald was chosen to head the VA back in July,” Ross said on Wednesday. “McDonald and I are in accordance with creating a VA that works and will provide veterans with the greatest quality of care. McDonald insisted that the ignominious culture previously demonstrated within the VA will diminish. We will not turn a deaf ear to the entreaties of our veterans.

“I’ve personally created legislation called the Veterans Timely Access to Health Care Act that would fix the VA medical wait time imbroglio,” Ross added. “My legislation would ensure veterans seeking primary and specialty care services from VA medical facilities will not have to wait longer than 30 days for an appointment. It is unconscionable that these same men and women who have put their lives on the line for our country often wait over three months for access to treatment.”
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