Sunshine State News Blogs

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi gets mixed marks in a new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, but she still beats out her two Democratic rivals.

The poll finds 29 percent of Florida voters approve of Bondi while the same percentage disapprove of her. However, 42 percent of those surveyed are not sure what they think of Bondi.

Bondi takes 38 percent when matched against former DCF Secretary George Sheldon who follows with 35 percent while 27 percent are undecided. Bondi goes better when matched against House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, beating him 40 percent to 33 percent while 28 percent are undecided.

The poll of 672 Florida voters was taken from June 6-9 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.
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A new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, shows President Barack Obama is under water in Florida despite carrying the state twice.

The poll finds a majority of those surveyed -- 53 percent -- disapprove of Obama. Only 41 percent approve of Obama.

The poll of 672 Florida voters was taken from June 6-9 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.

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A new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, finds Amendment 2, allowing more medical marijuana use in Florida, in excellent shape. The poll finds 66 percent of those surveyed support it while only 25 percent oppose it. The amendment needs 60 percent on the November ballot to pass.

The poll finds Floridians of all ages support the amendment though seniors support it less with only 58 percent of them backing it. Republicans are split on the proposal with 44 percent backing it while 42 percent oppose it.

The poll of 672 Florida voters was taken from June 6-9 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.

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Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, released a poll on Tuesday which finds Gov. Rick Scott has caught former Gov. Charlie Crist and the race is now a dead heat with both candidates garnering 42 percent. An April poll from PPP had Crist leading 49 percent to 42 percent.

In the new poll, Scott does better against former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, beating her 40 percent to 34 percent.

The poll finds Crist has collapsed with the Florida public. While a PPP poll from the fall showed Crist above water with 43 percent seeing him favorably and 42 percent unfavorably, his numbers have dropped sharply. Only 32 percent in the new poll see Crist as favorable while 48 percent view him as unfavorable.

Scott is also upside down, with 39 percent approving of him and 48 percent disapproving of him.

The poll of 672 Florida voters was taken from June 6-9 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.
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Gov. Rick Scott made stops in Miami on Tuesday as part of his College Affordability Tour. 

The governor addressed the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce to discuss reversing tuition increases as well as efforts to significantly reduce the cost of Florida prepaid savings plans, provide in-state tuition for veterans, and work with Florida state colleges to offer $10,000 degrees in important fields. 

Scott also highlighted the signing of HB 851, which would offer in-state tuition rates for the children of undocumented immigrants.

"Until this week, many students in Florida – who are the children of immigrants, spent their childhood here and attended high school here – didn’t qualify for the same in-state tuition rates as their classmates," said Scott. "By signing HB 851, we have embraced fairness for all students – providing in-state tuition rates for those students, while also reversing Charlie Crist’s 15 percent tuition hike. I want to make sure that our students can get a great education, start a successful career, and live the American dream right here in Florida."
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Despite having served with former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., in the Florida House, Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, is backing Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Garica, D-Fla.
 
"I am happy to endorse Carlos Curbelo for Congress,” Weatherford said on Tuesday. “He represents the new generation of conservative leaders in our party that recognize America’s challenges must be met with fresh new ideas. He is a proven fighter for our children’s education, a champion for economic freedom and will bring a servant’s heart to Washington to represent Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. I look forward to supporting Carlos’ campaign this year as he articulates a bold vision for America.”
 
“I am honored to have the support of Speaker Weatherford,” Curbelo said. “Florida has benefited from his special brand of leadership and integrity: providing a clear vision, debating the issues honestly and openly, never fearing a great idea no matter the origin, and to always do the right thing for our state. With Speaker Will Weatherford’s endorsement of our campaign, we continue the momentum to achieve victory in August and November.”
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On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to Michael Reininger, the president of All Aboard Florida. In the letter, Scott called for All Aboard Florida to listen to local input as they look to bring high-speed rail to the Sunshine State. The entire letter is below:

As I have traveled the state, I have heard questions and concerns about All Aboard Florida’s proposed passenger rail service from Miami to Orlando. First, I want to be clear on a critical point: the All Aboard Florida proposal is a private-sector venture to construct, operate and maintain a passenger rail system. There will be no state subsidies for this project.

Funding in the budget for quiet zones was added at the request of local governments, planning councils and legislators along the Treasure Coast. This grant funding is for local governments and not committed for All Aboard Florida. If local communities now oppose these dollars they can notify the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and those dollars will be redirected for other transportation priorities. Additionally, these communities committed to a one-to-one match so local dollars must be matched to state dollars before the projects can move forward.

In response to local communities’ questions about All Aboard Florida, we must ensure that there is a detailed conversation about this new rail service. Many families are worried about how these additional trains will affect their neighborhoods and their concerns should be heard. That is why this week, I tasked FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad <to meet with> community leaders and area legislators on All Aboard Florida to listen to their concerns and ensure their voices are heard by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which is the lead agency on this project. As you know, All Aboard Florida has applied for a Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan through the Federal Railroad Administration, and federal processes required for loan approval include ensuring the project complies with 26 individual, federal regulations. To better enable federal officials to do what’s best for Florida families, we’ll supply input from our communities to those in Washington who are overseeing this project.

Additionally, there has been much discussion on our investments into the Orlando International Airport. This project was planned in the 1990s, well before the existence of All Aboard Florida, and the investments are for an intermodal facility that is similar to other airports in Florida. These dollars are for the airport’s intermodal facility, which includes rental car space, parking garages and rail lines. Our agreement stipulates that any funding invested for nonairport use must be returned to the state, thus any terminal used by All Aboard Florida would not be subsidized by state dollars.

The Federal Railroad Administration is the lead agency and is currently working on a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project; an essential part of that process is a public comment period. While the state does not have the authority to halt or alter this project, I request that you expand the current public comment period from 75 days to 90 days. This additional time will allow communities more opportunity to have their specific concerns addressed.

Specifically, the communities surrounding the railroad drawbridges over the New River, St. Lucie River and Loxahatchee River have raised concerns about the impacts from this proposed project. Florida has over a thousand miles of coastline, and access to the water for boating is one of the things that makes Florida so special. I understand that All Aboard Florida has taken specific steps for the New River Crossing including the reduction of the bridge cycle to limit the delays faced by boaters. During the public comment period, please also review the situation at the St. Lucie and Loxahatchee river crossings to address local concerns.

As you continue to outline your plans for All Aboard Florida, please be sensitive to the impact of additional rail traffic in the rail corridor to our communities, their home values and public safety. Thank you for seriously considering these concerns about the All Aboard Florida project and I look forward to your quick response.
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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., continued to criticize the Obama administration for agreeing to a deal releasing a captured American soldier for five Taliban leaders.

“The singular part of it that I want to focus on is the fact that the president has gone ahead and released five extremely dangerous Taliban commanders,” Rubio said on Monday during an interview on WOKV in Jacksonville. “I mean, perhaps the five most dangerous Taliban commanders in Guantanamo are now free, and are already planning to be at war against the Unites States fairly soon – as they have said upon arrival, when they arrived in Qatar.

“All five are people that we fully anticipate would return to the battlefield,” Rubio added. “I mean, these guys aren’t going back home to become stockbrokers, or journalists. I mean, these are hardened Taliban fighters, and this return has been hailed as a victory for the Taliban – has really given them credibility in the region and on the ground as a legitimate government, legitimate military force. And it sets a very dangerous precedent for the future.”
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Despite U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), saying she opposes Amendment 2, a leading Florida Democrat showcased his support of the medical marijuana proposal on Monday.

“Like too many American families, my family was stricken by tragedy when my mother Jerrilyn was diagnosed with cancer,” said Alan Clendenin, the first vice chairman of the Florida Democratic Party on Monday. “For over a year we watched my mother battle this horrific disease. We lost my mom Aug. 25, 2008.”

Clendenin didn’t call out Wasserman Schultz by name but he did take aim at “Washington politicians” who oppose the proposed state constitutional amendment.

“It confounds me to see there are still some that would deprive their family members and friends, suffering from debilitating disease, appropriate medical care recommended by their physician,” Clendenin said. “I find it outrageous that some Washington politicians believe they are better equipped to make health care decisions. I find it shameful there are some that would label a critically ill patient a criminal and subject them to fines or even prison.

“My family would have welcomed any therapy that would have relieved my mother’s pain,” Clendenin added, before noting the two leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates support Amendment 2. “I am proud to stand with Sen. Nan Rich and former Gov. Charlie Crist in support of this important legislation. Nov. 4, 2014, I will be voting yes on Amendment 2 to legalize use of marijuana for physician-approved medical conditions.”
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With Gov. Rick Scott launching a tour of Florida focusing on keeping higher education costs under control, he is getting some air support from the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF). On Monday, the RPOF unveiled a Web ad hitting former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic nomination, on a host of fronts including raising tuition.

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"Charlie Crist continues to try and gloss over his failed record by saying that raising tuition and raising taxes was ‘the right thing to do.’ We have news for Charlie - putting college out of reach and raising taxes on Floridians is never the right thing to do,” said Leslie Dougher, the chairwoman of the RPOF. “And continuing to support Obamacare, which has caused seniors to lose their doctors, will never be the right thing for Florida."
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Gov. Rick Scott will be headed to Fort Myers Monday to kick off his College Affordability tour. 

According to a press release, the weeklong tour will "highlight [Scott's] efforts to reverse the burdensome tuition increases signed into law by Charlie Crist."

The governor will also discuss keeping college affordable for all Florida students as well as Scott's efforts to reduce the cost of Florida prepaid savings plans, provide in-state tuition for veterans, and "work with Florida state colleges to offer $10,000 degrees in important fields."

“I know what it’s like to work your way through school, but for many kids today, the rising cost of college tuition is making it hard to afford college," said Scott. "That’s why it was so important to reverse Charlie Crist’s 15 percent tuition hike and give every student who grows up in Florida the chance to pursue an affordable college education. I want to make sure that our students can get a great education, start a successful career, and live the American dream right here in Florida.”

The tour will also include visits to Boca Raton, Miami, Orlando and Pensacola.  
 
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Former Gov. Charlie Crist was endorsed by the state AFL-CIO this weekend as he runs for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November. Despite having spent most of his political career as a Republican, Crist, who joined the Democrats in December 2012, is the favorite for his new party’s nomination.

“Thank you so much to the Florida AFL-CIO for their endorsement today,” Crist noted on Sunday. “Our economy works best when we build from the middle class out. I'm proud to stand with my brothers and sisters in the AFL-CIO to make sure that all Floridians have a fair shot at the American dream.”

Republicans aren’t buying it. Leslie Dougher, the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), went on the attack on Sunday.

"Today's announcement from the AFL-CIO proves just how out of touch they and Charlie Crist are with Florida's working families,” Dougher said. “Charlie Crist supported raising tuition on families, lost 832,000 jobs, and with an unemployment rate that tripled, Florida's economy did worse than most of the nation. Crist continues his full embrace of Obamacare, which even the AFL-CIO said would harm its members."
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On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill giving some undocumented aliens in-state tuition. Scott stressed the bill would keep tuition low for Floridians across the board.

“Making sure all Floridians have access to an affordable higher education is one of my top priorities,” Scott said. “Signing this historic legislation today will keep tuition low, and allow all students who grew up in Florida to have the same access to affordable higher education. With this legislation, higher education became more affordable and more accessible to all Floridians.”

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, a champion of the in-state tuition proposal, thanked Scott on Monday.

"The dreams of many individuals looking to further their education are now within reach,” Weatherford said. “I thank Gov. Scott for giving all of Florida's children a chance to succeed. This is a proud and historic moment for Florida."
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Here's an ICYMI for you.

Florida Democratic Party leaders' bizarre war against their own members has heated up.

Now they're urging Charlie Crist backers to help them by blanketing The Florida Squeeze (TFS) with comments hyping Charlie's credentials and the need to blindly follow their lead.

FDP leaders took to Twitter last week with this incredulous tweet: https://mobile.twitter.com/NotSqueezed/status/474256183503900672.

"Leave comments in support of campaign plan we are executing for the party and Crist on @Fl_Political_Sq please! We are being drowned out."

The tweet follows a poll question posted on Kartik Krishnaiyer's liberal TFS site: "Should Nan Rich Drop Out of the Governor's Race before Qualifying?"

Nan obviously saw the question quickly and didn't waste a minute answering it herself and letting Democrats know what she's going to do no matter how they vote. She tweeted out this:

I will not be withdrawing from the Governor's race! Vote in the poll: http://bit.ly/U7EOtK #StandWithNan

TFS' poll results showed that by a greater than 2-1 majority (68.78 percent to 29.35 percent), Democrats want to see a Crist-Rich debate. Krishnaiyer even took pains to weed out multiple votes: "If you voted more than once from the same computer, your vote was only counted once," he said.

"Drowned out" is right. FDP leadership clearly senses a tidal wave building.

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The Republican Party of Florida went on the attack against big-time trial lawyer John Morgan for comments he made against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Wasserman Schultz expressed concerns over a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, saying the amendment was "written too broadly" and "stops short of ensuring strong regulatory oversight from state officials."

In response, Morgan went on the attack against Wasserman Schultz, and the insults got personal.

“I know personally the most-powerful players in Washington, D.C.,” Morgan told the Miami Herald Friday. “And I can tell you that Debbie Wasserman Schultz isn’t just disliked, she’s despised. She’s an irritant.”

At one point, Morgan said Wasserman Schultz should just "become a bridesmaid for Pam Bondi's next wedding."

The comments didn't go unnoticed by the RPOF, who denounced Morgan's remarks as sexist.

"First, Charlie Crist dismisses lifelong Democrat Nan Rich. Then, his most ardent supporter hurls disgusting and grossly sexist insults at Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz," said RPOF chair Leslie Dougher. "Not only are Charlie’s policies bad for women, now he and his cronies are openly insulting them.”

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Former state CFO Alex Sink, who lost a special congressional election earlier this year, went to bat for a Democrat in the U.S. Senate on Friday. Sink, who was the Democratic candidate who came up short against Rick Scott in 2010, sent out an email to supporters on Friday asking them to support U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., who is a top Republican target in November.  

“This year we don't have a U.S. Senate race in Florida, but Democratic control of the Senate is at risk,” Sink wrote. “One of the key races is the re-election of U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina, and I want all of us to do our part to help Kay.

“Kay is a personal friend, growing up in Lakeland and niece of Florida Sen. Lawton Chiles,” Sink added. “Kay graduated with a law degree from Wake Forest and went on to serve as a distinguished North Carolina state senator before running and winning a U.S. Senate seat in 2008. Kay represents common-sense politics that made North Carolina committed to higher education, public schools, and a new economy.  We need her back in the Senate!”
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Reclaim America, a PAC affiliated with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is standing against President Barack Obama’s latest round of EPA regulations. On Friday, Reclaim America announced it was gathering petitions opposed to Obama’s EPA reforms.

“Government can't grow the economy. But the Obama administration has shown it knows how to slow it down,” Rubio insisted on Friday. “The EPA is pushing new regulations that will kill jobs and raise utility prices for Americans. All in the name of setting a ‘good example.’ An ‘example’ that ignores the fact that the countries who emit the largest amount of carbon, like China and India, have no intention of following suit.

“So not only will Obama’s regulations increase energy prices, they'll also put us at a competitive disadvantage against other economies,” Rubio added. “How does that help America? We're going to pay a terrible price for the unilateral executive actions the president is taking on energy.”

Tearing into “Obama’s job-killing EPA overreach,” Rubio continued to assail the proposal.

“The idea that we must destroy our economy by raising utility prices for Americans so the world will follow is naive,” Rubio insisted. “Countries like China and India are going to continue to grow their economy and watch as we suffocate ours with regulations.”
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JaxBiz, a political group with ties to the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, unveiled a host of legislative endorsements in races on the First Coast on Friday. Last month, the group backed Paul Renner for the House seat left open by the retirement of Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, who heads up the Jacksonville Chamber. Earlier this week, the group announced it was backing Gov. Rick Scott for a second term.

“We are fortunate to have strong, pro-business elected leaders representing us in Tallahassee and look forward to our representatives continuing to support economic growth for our region and the entire state of Florida,” said Mike Hightower, the Florida Blue executive who chairs JaxBiz. “Experience matters in Tallahassee, and we are proud to support returning our delegation for another term to continue to make our region and state attractive locations for business investment.”

The group is supporting Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Jacksonville, and Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, in their re-election bids.

On the House side, JaxBiz is backing Republican Reps. Elizabeth Porter of Lake City, Janet Adkins of Fernandina Beach, Lake Ray of Jacksonville, Charles McBurney of Jacksonville, Doc Renuart of Ponte Vedra Beach, Travis Cumings of Orange Park, Charles Van Zant of Keystone Heights and Travis Hutson of Palm Coast for re-election. JaxBiz is also backing Jacksonville Democrats Reggie Fullwood and Mia Jones as they seek to stay in the Florida House.
 

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., cheered the news that parts of his bill giving the VA secretary more room to fire incompetent employees was going to be incorporated into a compromise measure brought forth by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Earlier in the week, Rubio announced more than half of the Senate was co-sponsoring his bill. A similar proposal from U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., passed the House last month.

“For months, I’ve worked with Rep. Jeff Miller and veterans organizations to pass legislation empowering the Veterans Affairs secretary to fire incompetent and negligent managers,” Rubio said on Thursday. “In recent days, I’ve worked with Sens. Burr, McCain and Sanders to ensure that this important proposal was included in their veterans bill that the Senate will consider in coming weeks. I am pleased that real accountability measures are included in the legislation. Considering the deep debt of gratitude our nation owes our veterans, I’m optimistic that the Senate will soon join the U.S. House of Representatives and pass these important reforms. As we look forward to voting on this bill, I will be reviewing it closely to ensure it delivers on America’s promises to our veterans.”
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Some of the biggest bills of this year's legislative session have made their way to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott. 

Over 100 bills were forwarded to the governor on Thursday, including HB 851, which would offer the children of undocumented immigrants in-state tuition rates. Another high-profile bill, SB 1030, would legalize medical marijuana for those suffering from severe epilepsy.

Scott promised to sign both bills. 

Scott now has 15 days to sign, veto or allow the bills to become law without his signature.
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The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste named U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., as a “Taxpayer Hero” for his record last year in Congress.

"I'm honored to stand for taxpayers," said Ross on Thursday. "Many families are struggling financially in this economy. The government takes too much of their hard-earned money as it is. And then we find out that money is wasted -- $750,000 for a soccer field for terrorists and $559,681 to study shrimps' performance on a treadmill, just to name a couple of examples. Floridians and all Americans deserve to keep more of their money and also deserve that their taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. I'm working hard on their behalf to eliminate waste and ensure transparency."
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Gov. Rick Scott spent part of this week touring the state, focusing on small-business issues. On Thursday, the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) announced it was endorsing Scott with its Florida chairman, Jerry Pierce, leading a “Small Business for Scott” group.

“Gov. Scott has spent the past four years fighting for small businesses, creating jobs, and finding ways to grow Florida’s economy,” said Bill Herrle, NFIB’s executive director in Florida. “He has proven that he understands the challenges small-business owners face day in and day out. He has dedicated himself to implementing business-friendly policies, getting government out of the way of business, and improving the business climate. His hard work, persistence and support have given small businesses a real opportunity to grow and thrive. As a result, our membership overwhelmingly supports Gov. Scott in his bid for re-election as governor of Florida.”
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Noting that his bill reforming the VA department now had a majority of the U.S. Senate co-sponsoring it, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to bring it for a vote. Rubio’s bill, which would give the VA secretary more authority to fire underpeforming employees, has 11 Democrats on board including U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

“The only thing keeping these important reforms from being signed into law is Sen. Reid’s refusal to schedule a vote,” Rubio said on Wednesday. “In order to give veterans the care they deserve, the new VA secretary will need to fire employees who wrongly participated in this scandal. This legislation gives the secretary that power, which is why a majority of the Senate is co-sponsoring it. It makes no sense why Sen. Reid would not allow a vote.”

The House overwhelmingly passed its version of the bill last month, which was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.
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Let’s Get to Work, a group connected to Gov. Rick Scott, released a radio ad on Thursday in Spanish. The ad focuses on Scott’s record and stays away from attacking his opponents.

The translation of the ad reads as follows:

What do we expect from our elected officials? That if they make a promise, they keep it. That they care about our future. That they seek ways to create opportunities. That is what Governor Rick Scott has meant for our state. He promised to create jobs. Today there are 600,000 new jobs that businesses have created and unemployment is declining.
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Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill into law May 31 that could ultimately shut down greyhound racing in his state.

The vehicle for its demise is casinos. The new law allows casinos to buy out dog racing.

According to a story on Bloodhorse.com, Branstad had delayed signing the bill because of objections from Iowa horsemen over a provision that will let the Iowa Greyhound Association simulcast horse and dog races at Iowa casinos without guaranteeing any of the revenue going to purses for horse racing.

A week earlier he had said: "My concern, I think, the horse industry was left out of this." However, officials from Council Bluffs and Dubuque lobbied strongly for passage of the bill, saying the casinos were spending $13 million per year on greyhound racing that could otherwise go to charity.

"While we wish something more could have been done, we understand Gov. Branstad's decision," said Jon Moss, executive director of the Iowa Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. "The bill had passed the Legislature overwhelmingly. He made it very clear he expects the bill to be reopened at the beginning of next year."

The bill calls for ending greyhound racing at Mystique Casino in Dubuque after this season and at Bluffs Run at Horseshoe Casino Jan. 1, 2016. The IGA will be able to sponsor future meets at Dubuque, but will be responsible for the costs.

The casinos will pay $72 million, half to fund the IGA's meets should it decide to operate meets at Dubuque, and half to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which will determine its use. The commission must use a portion of the money to ensure the transition of dogs that can no longer race, according to the bill.

The biggest chunk of simulcast revenue comes from Bluffs Run, which draws from Omaha, Neb. More than $8.8 million was bet on horse simulcasts at Bluffs Run in 2013, while $972,000 was bet at Dubuque.

The horse and greyhound interests tried to negotiate an agreement but were far apart. The IGA offered 10 percent of net revenues, while the Iowa HBPA wanted a third of net revenue or a phased-in rate that would reach 4 cents per dollar bet.

"The governor remains committed to Iowa's horse industry and would welcome legislation in the future to support it," Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers told the Dubuque Herald.

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Gov. Rick Scott reeled in the endorsement of Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper, a Democrat, who crossed party lines to back him on Wednesday.

“Gov. Scott isn’t your typical politician,” Coerper said. “When he makes a promise, he keeps it. He promised to get Florida back to work and has delivered over 600,000 private-sector jobs since December 2010, which has tremendously helped the heart of Florida and the Alachua community. He promised to cut the red tape for small businesses and has so far cut over 3,000 burdensome regulations. Florida needs to continue this path of economic prosperity and re-elect Gov. Scott this November."
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Gov. Rick Scott joined five other Republican governors -- Sam Brownback of Kansas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Paul LePage of Maine, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania and Rick Perry of Texas -- in sending a letter on Wednesday to President Barack Obama, urging him to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA department has been under fire in recent weeks after reports emerged across the nation of altered waiting lists at VA medical facilities. Eric Shinseki resigned his post as VA secretary last week after a critical inspector general’s report on VA medical facilities.

Scott and the other governors wrote the following:

As governors who have millions of veterans living in our states, we are deeply troubled and outraged by the significant negligence and systemic delays in patient care throughout the Veterans Affairs health system. While we believe that your decision to accept the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki was appropriate, this change is only the beginning of many needed reforms to protect and care for our nation’s veterans.

The dedication, service and sacrifice these individuals make on a daily basis ensures the safety and freedoms we, as Americans, enjoy and cherish. We owe these servicemen and women our sincere gratitude and appreciation, and we must demand more from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to honor the sacrifices of our American veterans.

States have taken the obligation to care for these men and women very seriously.

Reports from states around the country of wait times in a system manipulated by VA leaders to hide the growing problems are not only inexcusable, they demand your immediate and full attention. Serious reform on behalf of our veterans will require much more than a change in management.

Mr. President, you have the ability and power to right this wrong and put the health and welfare of our country’s veterans first. We stand ready and willing to assist in this most important effort to help our veterans get the quality and timely medical care they deserve.
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Southwest Florida businessman Chauncey Solinger is back for a rematch with Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Fort Myers. In a three-way primary back in 2012, Solinger took 22 percent in the Republican primary but Rodrigues won with 50 percent. Solinger filed to run for the seat again on Tuesday.

Rodrigues, the vice chairman of the Higher Education and Workforce Subcommittee, raised almost $64,000 by the end of April but spent almost $21,000 of it.

Democrat Charles Messina is also in the race but he hasn’t done much in the way of fundraising, bringing in $875, loaning his campaign $700 and spending almost $1,550.
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Gov. Rick Scott announced that LATAM Airlines is expanding its operations in South Florida with LAN Cargo building a maintenance facility at Miami International Airport, leading to 300 new jobs and $20 million in additional investments. Scott said part of this expansion came from a meeting with the LATAM CEO during his trade mission in Chile.

“LATAM Airlines Group’s expansion of its maintenance facility in Miami is great news for families in South Florida,” Scott said on Wednesday. “Because of our trade mission to Chile, this expansion was made possible. These 300 new jobs will mean that more Floridians are able to provide for their families. We have worked to make Florida the best state in the nation for business, and we will keep working until every Floridian who wants a job can get one.”

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With Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst winning the Republican primary on Tuesday in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., cheered the news on Wednesday. Rubio, a potential Republican presidential contender in 2016, backed Ernst in the competitive primary. Iowa traditionally holds the first presidential caucus.

Rubio insisted the results “prove that conservatives across the country can come together to elect real conservative leaders in competitive races.”

"I was proud to campaign alongside Joni," Rubio added, noting his Restore American PAC “put ads on the air across Iowa touting her conservative credentials.”

Rubio insisted he would continue to campaign “for the conservative leaders across the country" including Senate candidates like Ernst, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.

“Last night was a victory for not only creating a Republican majority in the Senate, but creating a conservative majority in the Senate,” Rubio maintained.
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