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Politics

Political Bits and Pieces

July 31, 2014 - 6:00pm

Gov. Rick Scott waded into foreign policy this week, sending a letter to President Barack Obama calling on him to push against the Maduro regime controlling Venezuela.

Back in April, Scott sent Obama thousands of petitions calling upon Obama to get tough with the Maduro government but did not receive a response. In the letter, Scott insisted Obamas policies only emboldened the Maduro government to continue the violence and orchestrate a sham of a trial against democracy leader Leopoldo Lopez and called on the White House to take seriously the crisis in Venezuela by taking measures from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to work with other nations against the Maduro regime. ...

Scott continues to call upon Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera on the campaign trail for Hispanic outreach. Lopez-Cantera will be the featured speaker later this month when the Latin Builders Association (LBA) has its monthly lunch at the Biltmore in Coral Gables on Aug. 22. Lopez-Cantera will be speaking about the economy and the states business climate. ...Former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite to win the Democratic primary later this month, despite winning three statewide offices as a Republican, was in Orlando on Wednesday to open up a campaign office. With Crist was his running mate Annette Tadeo who served as the county chairwoman for Miami-Dade Democrats. ... Trying to catch Crist in the primaries, former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich continues to work the grassroots with appearances at the West Pasco Democratic Club and in Davie this week. Rich continues to try to link Scott and Crist together and is gathering petitions demanding a debate with Crist. So far Crist has ignored Richs demands for a debate. ...

Democrat Gwen Graham has been hitting the campaign trail in recent days with her father Bob Graham, who served two terms as governor and three terms in the U.S. Senate, as she looks to topple U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., in November. Despite trying to position herself as an outsider, Graham has been getting massive support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) which has been pushing 10 Days, 10 Reasons Congressman Southerland is Out of Touch With North Florida attacks in recent days. ...U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., scored a big win this week as the House Ways and Means Committee passed his Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act on Thursday. The bill would allow disabled Americans to set up tax-free saving accounts. Crenshaw and other supporters are looking to keep the bills momentum going, hoping for final passage next month once Congress returns from the August recess. ... Engaged in the Republican primary against Ryman Shoaf, a former Navy officer and staffer for U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., Crenshaw will be back home on the First Coast this weekend. Crenshaw is scheduled to speak at Vistakons office in Jacksonville on Saturday with students from Englewood High School who are interested in joining Johnson & Johnson Vision Cares Academy of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering. The congressman will be focusing on the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills in the marketplace. ...

From his perch as chairman of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., had some advice for Bob McDonald who was confirmed as VA secretary this week without opposition. Miller advised McDonald, the former CEO of Procter & Gamble, to take swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement, negligence and corruption that harms veterans while taking bold steps to replace the departments culture of complacency with a climate of accountability but said he had a tough task in the aftermath of the recent medical center problems with altered waiting lists. ... Freshman U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., teamed up with U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to weigh in on higher education reform. DeSantis and Lee penned a piece at the Daily Signal on Thursday in which they called for changing the accreditation system, arguing it increases the cost of tuition. ...Looking to score a knockout upset over longtime U.S. Rep.Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., in the Democratic primary, former heavyweight boxing title contender Jameel McCline is picking up the pace in the final rounds. The Florida State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police announced on Monday it was backing McCline over Hastings. On Friday, McCline hit Fort Lauderdale where he opened up a second campaign office. ...

Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., continues his efforts to keep a seat at the political table despite losing in 2012 to Democrat Patrick Murphy. West tried to rally conservatives and Republicans behind Utah congressional hopeful Mia Love this week, warning that her lead over the Democratic candidate to pick up an open congressional seat is starting to shrink. ... Speaking of West, he is drawing fire from liberal Media Matters for America this week. The liberal group pointed out that West warned conservatives this week not to fall into the trap of pushing for Obamas impeachment even though the former congressman had been calling for it and fundraising off of his support for removing the president. ... Good week for Colleen Burton in terms of endorsements as she battles John Hugh Shannon in the Republican primary to replace Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland. The Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), the Florida Medical Association (FMA) and the Florida chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) all lined up behind Burton this week.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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