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Politics

Political Bits and Pieces

March 6, 2014 - 6:00pm

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) met this week and, as usual, it had a distinctly Florida feel. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was one of the featured speakers. Rubio, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, focused on foreign policy, especially the crises in Ukraine and Venezuela. Veteran Republican strategist Matt Schlapp introduced Rubio. ... Former Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Chairman Al Cardenas, now the chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU), moderated a panel at CPAC on Thursday afternoon on the American Dream vs. the Obama Nightmare on income inequality. ... Cardenas also spoke at CPAC on Friday afternoon, before U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took the stage. Before former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, is scheduled to speak on Saturday afternoon, Cardenas is penciled in to take the stage again. ... Former U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Fla., is scheduled to speak at CPAC on Saturday afternoon, in a panel on More Guns, Less Crime: How Law Enforcement is Beginning to Embrace a Well-Armed Civilian Population. ...

Republicans continue to have high hopes for Miami-Dade County School Board member Carlos Curbelo who is running for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla. Curbelo is scheduled to appear at CPAC on Saturday. Hes being recognized as one of the leading conservatives under 40. ... Florida Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola, took part in a panel discussion on Friday afternoon at CPAC entitled And Entrepreneurship Shall Set You Free: How to Celebrate Free-Market Capitalism in the Popular Culture." Hill appeared with Fred Smith, the founder and chairman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, former CEO Gary Heavin of Curves and Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon.... Hill is not the only member of the Florida House scheduled to appear at CPAC. State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, is scheduled to speak at CPAC on Saturday morning. Like Curbelo, Diaz is being honored as one of the nations leading conservatives under 40. ...

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., is kicking off his campaign on Saturday as he seeks a third term in Congress. Southerland will be opening his campaign headquarters and launching his campaign on Saturday morning in Panama City. Democrats have high hopes that Gwen Graham can defeat Southerland in November. ... Big win for U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., this week as the House unanimously passed his amendment to the Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act on Thursday. Websters amendment streamlines the permit process for infrastructure projects, including deepening Port Everglades as it readies for the Panama Canal expansion. ...U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., will be doing major outreach in her district next week. The congresswomans team will be holding office hours in Miami Springs on Tuesday, Hialeah on Wednesday and Cutler Bay on Thursday. ...

Travis Pitts is making a second bid for a state House in North Florida. In 2012, Pitts, who won three elections to be Washington Countys clerk of the circuit court, ran against Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, with no party affiliation and took 27 percent. With Coley facing term limits in November, Pitts is now running for the open seat as a Democrat. Former Rep. Brad Drake and Jan Hooks are battling for the Republican nomination while Karen Barbara Schoen is running as a Libertarian. ... Florida Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, has drawn a primary opponent in North Miami businessman Anis Blumir who filed his papers to enter the race this week. So far, no other candidates have filed in this heavily Democratic district. ...Shaddrick Haston will be taking over as CEO of the Florida Assisted Living Association later this month. Haston is currently with the Agency for Health Care Administration's (AHCA) Assisted Living Unit.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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