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Political Bits and Pieces

May 1, 2014 - 6:00pm

Joe Gruters, the chairman of the Sarasota County GOP, is not running to replace Lenny Curry as the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), but he continues to remain active in shaping the party. Gruters is backing Clay County GOP Chairwoman Leslie Dougher to replace Curry.

Earlier this week, Gruters announced that he is hosting a fundraiser for Gov. Rick Scott later this month. ...Newly minted Democrat former Gov. Charlie Crist continues to try to appeal to liberals as he seeks his new partys nomination to challenge Scott. Crist welcomed the Legislature passing a bill giving undocumented aliens in-state tuition at Florida universities and insisted if the people are gracious enough to give me a chance to serve as their governor, moments like this will be the norm, not just an election-year exception. The RPOF noted that outside groups backing Crist hammered Marco Rubio during the 2010 U.S. Senate contest for being soft on immigration, including backing in-state tuition for illegals. ...Former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich also slammed Crist on the issue this week, pointing to her record in the Legislature on in-state tuition for illegals and noting Crist had opposed the DREAM Act during his term as governor. Rich bashed Crist, insisting he cost thousands of young people the chance to go to college. Keeping on the attack, Rich called for Democrats to elect a governor who supports our values all of the time not just during election season. Clearly a shot at both Scott and Crist. ...

Two Florida Republicans looking at running for the GOPs presidential nomination in 2016 are not doing well in Arkansas. A poll from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling (PPP) on Thursday shows both Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush trailing in Arkansas. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who moved to Florida after his 2008 presidential bid, leads the GOP field with 38 percent with U.S. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in distant second with 14 percent. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in third with 13 percent, followed by 10 percent for Bush. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey gets 4 percent while Rubio, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are knotted together with 3 percent each. Controversial rancher Cliven Bundy gets 2 percent. ... Huckabee is the only Republican who leads former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose husband Bill Clinton served as governor of Arkansas. With 47 percent, Huckabee beats Clinton who gets 44 percent. Clinton leads the other Republicans in the race, beating Bush by 5 percent, Paul by 6 percent and Christie by 9 percent. ... Nor do things look much better for Rubio and Bush in the Dairy State. PPP released a poll of Wisconsin last week. Ryan leads with 25 percent, edging fellow favorite son Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin with 21 percent. Christie, Huckabee and Paul are in a three-way tie with 8 percent followed by Cruz with 7 percent, while Bush and Rubio take 6 percent each. Jindal lags with 3 percent. ... Clinton leads all of the Republicans in Wisconsin, beating Ryan by 5 percent, Walker by 7 percent, Bush and Paul by 11 percent, Huckabee by 12 percent and Christie by 13 percent. ...

Count former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., as one of the winners as Mia Love won the Republican nomination for an open congressional seat in Utah. Through his Allen West Guardian Fund PAC, West has backed Love both this time out and in her 2012 congressional bid. Love is expected to win a congressional seat for Republicans, increasing their majority in Congress. ... Looking at an increasingly crowded field of Republican opponents, which now includes scandal-plagued former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., is opening his first campaign office in Miami on Saturday. Garcia and Rivera are very familiar with each other. Rivera beat Garcia back in 2010 to win an open congressional seat but the Democrat won the rematch in 2012. ... Rubio teamed up with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., to demand U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry eliminate funding to the Palestinian Authority if it fails to follow the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006. ...

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), continues to double down on her support of President Barack Obamas federal health-care law. Wasserman Schultz continues to insist the law is a success, pointing to the fact that 980,000 Floridians enrolled in it and noting that 487,000 of them came from South Florida. ... Two Florida congressmen took part in a panel discussion on disaster mitigation at BuildStrong Coalitions National Thought Leaders Forum on Building Codes for a Stronger and Safer America on Thursday. Both U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., served on the panel. ... On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., took part in a discussion on minority health backed by INSIGHT America. Southerland, who was there in his role as the Republican caucus Anti-Poverty Initiative chairman, joined former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., on the panel.

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