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Mitch Perry Report for 10.17.16 — Will recent experience play a factor in tonight’s U.S. Senate debate?

Floridians will get their first chance to observe Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy in the same room together when they engage in their first debate of Florida’s U.S. Senate contest in Orlando tonight.

Trailing by an average of around five percentage points through all of the polling, Murphy needs to have a big performance in him to begin to narrow that gap, especially with so many people already voting on every day in early mail voting.

First impressions matter — this the first time many Floridians will ever have seen Murphy (other than in commercials depicting him as the worst congressman in the country who lies about his resume). But if he can convincingly portray Rubio as an absentee senator who still isn’t interested in fulfilling a six-year term, he might score some points.

But if you were going to make a prediction beforehand, you’d have to like the Republican Senator’s chances. He’s much more battle tested on the debate stage, having participated in more than a dozen high-stake debates over the past year during his unsuccessful run for president (Yes, OK, there was that one moment in Manchester, New Hampshire with Chris Christie, but let’s forget about that for a moment).

And Murphy’s experience on the debate stage? Not much, lately.

You might recall back in July where Murphy was frustrating his Democratic primary opponents, Alan Grayson and Pam Keith, by avoiding to commit to a debate. After domestic-violence allegations made against Grayson from his ex-wife went public, Murphy said his opponent didn’t deserve “the platform,” and opted to not engage in any debates.

Some people (OK, me, for one) thought that was a bad idea on a number of fronts, one of them being that going ahead and conducting such a debate could help prep him for his ultimate confrontation with Rubio.

He opted out. Was that a mistake? We’ll know more by 8 this evening.

And will there only be two men on the stage in Orlando tonight? Independent candidate Steven Machat is back in court this morning to see if he and the other handful of independents can get on the debate stage in Orlando tonight.

In other news …

At a candidates forum Saturday, two Tampa City Council District 7 candidates got into it on the issue of the police.

The PPP survey released Friday showed Hillary Clinton with just a four-percentage point lead over Donald Trump in Florida, though his favorable/unfavorable rankings are tanking and hers are improving.

The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission has been besieged by for years, but now it’s their boss, Kyle Cockream, making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

With Patrick Murphy’s campaign, has the DSCC lost their minds?

Up until a few weeks ago, one could argue that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had been doing a reasonably good job in the Sunshine State.

One could even make the point that in a presidential year (one most likely to bring a D pickup) the DSCC had positioned themselves pretty well to take back Marco Rubio’s seat.

It began with a few elbows to the side of Alan Grayson’s head and continued with the strong centrist positioning of Patrick Murphy.

By most accounts, Florida was in a relatively strong position, at a minimum, to compete for this highly prized U.S. Senate seat.

With the GOP presidential nominee bottoming out, thanks to an awful debate performance – as well as his “is this mic on?” eye-opener – the situation could only get better for Murphy.

Add to that a disclosure that Trump’s companies traded with Cuba, and there should be a noticeable down-ballot impact turning out a core South Florida voting constituency.

One would think that the Rubio versus Murphy race is in play, with a Murphy victory more than just an academic possibility.

With a statewide polling average (according to RealClearPolitics.com) showing the better known Marco Rubio at only 2 points above the lesser known Murphy (Rubio is still below 50 percent), one would also think the DSCC smells blood and is preparing to pounce.

One would think.

Over the past week, there have been developing reports that national Democrats are walking away from Murphy.

That makes absolutely no sense.

For starters, helping keep Murphy afloat helps the top of the ticket. And while this may be shockingly obvious, it needs to be said:  If HRC wins Florida, she is POTUS.

Helping the undercard has an up-ballot effect, although not a large one.

It’s not like I am suggesting they support a down-ballot candidate in a deep red state.

Furthermore, help could be nested in a few swing congressional seats to (at least) weaken Paul Ryan’s grip on the House. It would be money very well spent.

Oh, and did I mention, they could also help make Patrick Murphy a U.S. Senator?

So with a close U.S. Senate race, a few potential congressional pickups and the big electoral college swing-state prize … the DSCC walks away.

Really?

In my not-so-humble opinion; that is insane.

Patrick Murphy to debate Marco Rubio two times before Nov. 8 election

Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio announced Monday they would debate three times and participate in a separate campaign forum, bringing an end to speculation Murphy was reluctant to engage in debates with the GOP Senate incumbent. However, there’s still a dispute about how many events they will actually have, because Rubio says two of the events have ties to Murphy supporters.

The first debate will be held in Orlando on October 17, and is sponsored by POLITICO, ABC affiliate WFTV, and Cox Media, and will be broadcast statewide on ABC affiliate stations. That’s still one.

The next debate will the Leadership Florida and Florida Press Association at Broward College in Davie on Oct. 26, also broadcast on ABC affiliates (that debate had previously been announced).

The candidates’ third scheduled debate is in question: that’s the event co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Telemundo and broadcast on Telemundo stations from Tampa. That, along with a separate forum at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, may not happen, because the Rubio camp says they’re affiliated with Murphy supporters.

Nevertheless, the news will undoubtedly please statewide Democrats who weren’t enthused about the perception that Murphy was not eager to debate Rubio, who he trails in virtually every poll published on the U.S. Senate race in Florida.

“I’m excited to debate Marco Rubio and talk about the issues that matter most to Florida families,” said Murphy. “Floridians face an important choice this November, between someone who will show up and work hard for them, and Marco Rubio, who abandoned our state and has the worst vote attendance record of any Florida Senator in nearly 50 years. I look forward to making that choice clear in our upcoming debates.”

The day after the Florida Primary on Aug. 31, Rubio immediately challenged Murphy to six debates. Murphy initially called it a “stunt,” and said he’s only do so if Rubio committed to serving a full six-year term (something that Rubio has not done). Rubio brought the issue back up on Monday.

“As he’s done in every election he’s been a part of — Patrick Murphy is ducking debates yet again. I did six debates six years ago. Why only do half now? ” Rubio said in a statement. “Floridians today deserve no less than what they received in 2010, and they deserve to know where we stand on the important issues facing our country. I will ask Patrick, once again, to join me in committing to six media-sponsored debates between now and Election Day.”

Murphy did not debate his challengers — Alan Grayson and Pam Keith — in the Senate Democratic Primary.

David Jolly accuses Charlie Crist of lying about his stance on student debt

For the second time in a little over a week, the David Jolly campaign is accusing Charlie Crist of lying about Jolly’s record.

At issue on Thursday was a tweet by Crist, in which he said Jolly opposed the refinancing of student debt.

Not true, countered the Jolly campaign. They responded by providing a link to a videotape of Jolly’s debate against Alan Grayson April 25, where he said, “There are some simple things we can do right now by allowing student loans to be refinanced, by making them eligible for reorganization in bankruptcy cases — those are two initiatives I have supported …”

Jolly added he would also like to create additional flexibility for accelerating and expanding Pell Grants, and would also like to tie the performance of longterm student loans to what the universities receive in federal funding.

Jolly is also one of just two Republican co-sponsors on a bill (H.R. 449) that would make student loan debt eligible for reorganization in bankruptcy and other relief provisions. Congresswoman Kathy Castor is a co-sponsor of the same bill.

Jolly does not support the “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act” (SB 2432) first introduced in the Senate by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2014. The bill has more than 170 co-sponsors, including Castor.

“Then why hasn’t he co-sponsored the bill?” Crist spokesman Kevin Cate responded. “Actions speak louder than words.” The Crist camp also says they’d like to know any other examples in which Jolly has come out in support of refinancing student debt.

According to the Jolly campaign, this is Crist’s second misstatement, or lie, of the campaign. On Election Night last week, Crist said Jolly was supporting Donald Trump‘s agenda. The Jolly camp took offense to that, saying the GOP congressman has not endorsed Trump for president.

The Crist campaign responds their candidate never said Jolly had endorsed Trump, but that he supported Trump’s agenda.

“This Republican primary season has been pretty frightening,” Crist said in that statement. “It saddens me to think that anyone who supports Donald Trump’s agenda could ever represent Pinellas County. And I look forward to sharing our vision for seniors, veterans, women, students, and our environment in the weeks ahead.”

Bill Rufty: Polk becoming a two-Party county?

Polk County will likely never return to the Democratic bastion that was home to four U.S. senators, three governors, and four presidents of the Florida Senate.

But from Tuesday’s primaries and the fielding of candidates for the Nov. 8 general elections, Polk Democrats are slowly learning to make the now-GOP bastion a two-party county again.

There was a big Democratic Primary in eastern Polk County for Florida’s 9th Congressional District, but not one of the four candidates were from Polk.

However, for the first time in a decade, there was a Democratic Primary for Florida House District 41, which is fully contained within the county’s borders.

As the I-4 corridor begins to turn Democratic in performance, eastern Polk County appears to be following the trend. But the western side, which includes Lakeland, Bartow and Mulberry, is still the Republican stronghold it has been since 1996.

The highest level race in the county and much of Central Florida was a congressional race where a Democrat is almost certain to win a general election run after court-ordered redistricting.

State Sen. Darren Soto’s win over former Alan Grayson aide Susannah Randolph, Grayson’s wife Dr. Dena Grayson, and former Osceola County Democratic Party Chair Valleri Crabtree can be credited to the significant margin in Osceola County, a Democratic stronghold among the three counties making up the district. He barely won the Orange County section and came in third in the Polk County section of his district.

Democrats in Polk County are hoping to win a Florida House seat in Polk County for the first time since 1998.

Former Circuit Court Judge Bob Doyel handily won the Democratic Party’s nomination over Nicholas Garcia in the primary and now faces former contractor and Republican fundraiser Sam Killebrew, a formidable Republican activist.

Killebrew won the GOP nod by a narrow margin over former 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge Charles Davis.

It was Davis’ first run for a partisan political office and, although running as a Republican, he failed to adhere to what has become a tenant of the GOP: get the absentee voters first.

Davis won at the polls Tuesday, but longtime political planner and activist Killebrew won the race with the mail-in and early vote ballots.

The anticipated overhaul of the sometimes intransigent and stagnant Polk County School Board wound up about 50-50. After a scandal involving the then-superintendent and a top aide and the board’s slowness to do anything, many believed there would be tight contests for the four school board seats up for election this year.

One board member drew no opposition, while another, perhaps in part sensing public anger, did not seek re-election. That left two seats with incumbents and an open seat for the nonpartisan election in Tuesday’s primary.

Incumbent Lori Cunningham received more than 50 percent of the vote and was returned for her fourth four-year term.

But the other incumbent, Hunt Berryman, was a very distant second to the first-time candidate and school board critic Billy Townsend in the three-way race. Still, Townsend must now contend with Berryman in a runoff.

Becky Troutman, wife of former Florida House member and potential 2018 Cabinet candidate Baxter Troutman, led by 9,000 votes in the four-way race for the open school board seat, but did not get the required 50 percent of the vote. She will face Sara Beth Reynolds in the general election.

The most surprising win from a vote-margin standpoint was the re-election of Polk County Judge Susan Flood Barberdisciplined for an alleged romantic relationship with her bailiff.

She had been the target of some Republican leaders, who released photos of her looking at state attorney’s evidence against her while a deposition was in recess. Barber apparently didn’t realize the room’s security cameras were on, they said. It is a nonpartisan race, but so what? Parties don’t care when trying to elect one of their own.

But Barber was returned to the bench, winning by a margin of 5,500 votes over challenger Carson Bassett, due in part to a last-minute Facebook post from a well-known local attorney who endorsed her.

The results of Tuesday’s Primary elections in Polk County:

Polk Democratic Primary 9th Congressional District

Susannah Randolph – 4,791/34.67 percent

Dena Grayson – 4,534/32.81 percent

Darren Soto – 3,526/25.52 percent

Valleri Crabtree – 968/7 percent

Democratic Primary Entire 9th Congressional District

Darren Soto – 14,496/36.26 percent

Susannah Randolph – 11,267/28.18 percent     

Dena Grayson – 11,122/27.82 percent

Valleri Crabtree – 3,093/7.74 percent

Polk Republican Primary 9th Congressional District

Wayne Liebnitzky – 9,662/66.33 percent

Wanda Rentas – 4,904/33.67 percent

Republican Primary Entire 9th Congressional District

Wayne Liebnitzky – 22,725/67.56 percent

Wanda Rentas – 10,911/32.44 percent

Polk Republican Primary Florida House District 41

Sam Killebrew – 5,134/51.26 percent

Charles Davis – 4,881/48.74 percent

Polk Democratic Primary Florida House District 41

Bob Doyel – 5,360/64.95 percent

Nicolas Garcia  2,892/35.05 percent

Polk County Commission (Universal Ballot)

Bill Braswell – 40,889/66.21 percent

J.C. Martin – 20,868/33.79 percent

Polk County Judge

Susan Barber – 36,026/54.13 percent

Carson Bassett – 30,530/45.87 percent

Polk County School Board District 1

Billy Townsend (Runoff) – 27,978/42.64 percent

Hunt Berryman (Runoff) – 21,500/32.77 percent

Ed Shoemaker – 16,135/24.59 percent

Polk County School Board District 2

Lori Cunningham (Elected)  33,391/51.99 percent

Ronnie L. Clark – 17,202/26.78 percent

Kevin J. Kitto – 7,000/10.90 percent

Tim James – 6,634/10.33 percent

Polk County School Board District 4

Becky Troutman (Runoff) – 25,105/38.26 percent

Sara Beth Reynolds (Runoff) – 16,466/25.10 percent

Ed Smith – 16,085/24.52 percent

Rebekah Ricks – 7,956 /12.13 percent

Add nice guy Jim Waldman to list of ‘sore losers,’ while Ritch Workman keeps it classy

There are lots of reasons people don’t like politics; this is one of them.

Tim Canova refused to concede his congressional bid, telling reporters he would only “concede Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a corporate stooge.” Alan Grayson called Patrick Murphy a Republican.

And after Marco Rubio trounced Carlos Beruff in the Republican Party primary, Beruff released an Op-Ed blasting Rubio.

“With regard to young Mr. Rubio, in my judgment, he made a life mistake. A man’s word is the most important thing he has. Mr. Rubio must live with that decision,” he wrote. “Sadly, he could have learned a lot about America and about himself by leaving politics and spending some time in the real world.”

Now, add Democrat Jim Waldman to the list.

The four-term Coconut Creek lawmaker lost the contentious Senate District 34 primary to attorney Gary Farmer 43 to 28 percent. State Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed took 29 percent.

In defeat, Waldman, a former House Democratic Whip, was somewhat biting. A postelection email starts with Waldman apologizing to friends and supporters for “letting them down” before offering a parting shot.

“We worked hard and gave it our all but it was not enough,” He wrote. “Unfortunately, many lies and deliberately deceptive statements were thrown around which we could not overcome. It’s sad that we allow candidates to lie and simply accept it as politics as usual.”

Much of Waldman’s animosity stems from a clash with Farmer over an “A” rating Waldman allegedly received from the National Rifle Association, which led to both sides calling the other liar.

“(A) political committee led by Gary Farmer is spreading lies about my record on guns,” Waldman wrote in a July email. “They’re spending tens of thousands of dollars mailing a FALSE claim to voters that I received an “A” from the NRA.”

In response, Farmer’s campaign released screenshots clearly showing Waldman’s “A” rating.

In any case, the days immediately following an electoral loss is probably the best time to take the high ground; something “good guy” Waldman, Canova, Beruff, et al, might consider.

In other words — stay classy, fellas.

For a lesson on civility in a loss, consider Melbourne Republican Ritch Workman.

Workman was handed a decisive primary defeat by fellow state Rep. Debbie Mayfield, 42 to 35 percent, in Senate District 17.

Florida Today described the race as “the Space Coast’s most bitterly fought 2016 primary election campaign, featuring dueling accusations of lying and negative television commercials and mailers.”

But did Workman go negative after he lost? No.

“Thank you all for tolerating another election cycle,” Workman wrote in a letter to supporters. “I know the emails, phone calls, and fliers in your mailbox can be very annoying, to say the least.

“The good news that comes from the Tuesday election results is that I will not be the one calling, emailing or mailing you! Many of you have emailed, texted and called me wishing me well and to check in, and I want you to know your kind words mean the world to me. It is so nice that you would think to check in on me after having lost an election. It is heartwarming, to say the least.”

After thanking his wife and family, Workman relates his honest feelings about the race.

“I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t disappointed to have lost. Of course, I am. However, I have had a great run,” Workman says. “I am very proud of the eight years I have been blessed with being a State Representative. I am proud of what I have accomplished and I will always hold the men and women I have served with in the highest regard.

“You should rest easy knowing that Florida is well managed. The government of this state is fiscally conservative with your tax dollars and is, for the most part, responsive to the people.

“I have made some mistakes, but I probably wouldn’t change a lot of what I have done, because I believe today, I am stronger, smarter and better prepared for whatever the Lord sends my way. I am excited for the next chapter in my life to begin.

“In closing, let me just say thank you,” he adds. “Thank you for letting me serve in the Florida House. Thank you for giving me the opportunities you have given me, and thank you for your friendship, trust and support.”

And that, folks, is how it is done.

Mitch Perry Report for 9.1.16 — The debate about the debates begins in Florida

I think I speak for a lot of Florida political observers in expressing my disappointment that, for whatever reason, Patrick Murphy never debated his Democratic Senate opponents, Pam Keith and Alan Grayson, during the just-concluded primary campaign.

Murphy avoided debates organized by Florida Public Radio stations and Bay News 9/News 13 in Orlando well before news broke that Grayson’s ex-wife accused him of abusing her. When that news broke, Murphy said Grayson was not worthy of a debate (ignoring Pam Keith at the time).

Now that he’s an underdog (if just slightly) against Republican Marco Rubio in the general election, however, Murphy hardly can be the one dictating terms. Right?

Not exactly. After Rubio went bold and challenged Murphy to six (!) debates yesterday, Murphy came back and challenged Rubio to say he will commit to serving for six years. Since Rubio won’t do that, Murphy said he’ll do just one debate, in late October.

There probably would never be six debates, but just one? Why not at least two or three?

Look, Rubio has had to suck it up big-time now that he has gone against his vows not to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, after he faded out badly in his run for the presidency. But with a real chance that he could compete again in 2020, he’s made the political calculation that it’s better to be part of the system in Washington to try another run.

If he were to be quoted on tape as saying that he was committed to serving all six years, and then announced in 2019 that he was running for president, well, his Republican rivals would shred him to pieces. Carlos Beruff didn’t lay a hand on him during the primary, so now it’s mano-a-mano against Murphy until Nov. 8.

Rubio seems pretty confident against the two-term Democrat from Jupiter, thus the bold announcement of six debates, immediately putting Murphy on the spot.

Murphy has been hammering all week how Rubio shouldn’t be seriously considered because of his failure to declare to serve a full term if elected. That’s a smart strategy, but he can’t say it for 70 more days. It’s going to come down to policy.

As it stands now, submitting to just one debate feels somewhat insubstantial, and an extension of what happened this past summer.

In other news …

Despite having no money and little name recognition, Pam Keith came close to getting more votes than Alan Grayson in the Florida Democratic Senate primary. Keith says she “feels like a winner” while still realizing the name of the game in politics is winning.

And they’re off: HD 60 Democratic candidate David Singer says Republican Jackie Toledo’s stances on illegal immigrants in Florida “on board” with Donald Trump.

While some people may be stunned to have seen Tim Schock trounce Jim Norman in Tuesday night’s attempt by Norman to make his political comeback, Schock said he wasn’t.

Sarasota poli sci professor Frank Alcock is going to kick off his general election campaign against Republican Greg Steube in Florida’s 23rd Senate District by doing the “Tour de Frank” this weekend.

With more than 173,000 votes, Senate hopeful Pam Keith says she feels like a winner

Although Pam Keith was always in the Senate race to win it, she won’t deny the sense of satisfaction she felt Wednesday, even though she came up well short of defeating Patrick Murphy for the Democratic nomination.

Keith captured more than 173,000 votes in the Florida Democratic Primary, finishing less than 2.5 percent behind Alan Grayson for third place in the Democratic Senate race. The 33-year-old Murphy captured 59 percent of the vote. Grayson finished in second place with just under 18 percent, and Keith, the former Navy JAG officer and Miami-based attorney, came in third with 15.4 percent. And she did that while barely raising $250,000 and airing no television ads.

“I think I conducted myself with grace, and I ran a positive campaign,” said Keith in a phone conversation Wednesday afternoon. “I didn’t spend my time smearing my opponents, and so I know I didn’t win, but I still feel like a winner. Certainly, the feedback I’ve gotten back today has been nothing but positive and encouraging.”

And unlike Grayson, Keith has already endorsed Murphy (on her Facebook page) in his race against Marco Rubio in the general election. “My goal is to make sure that we take control of the Senate and retain the White House, and if I can be helpful, I will be,” she said.

During the heat of the campaign, though, Keith was hardly so sanguine about Murphy, the Democratic Party’s establishment choice from early in 2015. She was particularly piqued when he would not submit to participating in a single debate this summer, despite several media organizations’ attempts to do so. After Grayson’s ex-wife accused the Orlando congressman of domestic abuse, Murphy unilaterally declared he would not debate him, while barely acknowledging he also was blowing off Keith.

“I think that was very wrongheaded,” she said of Murphy’s decision. “What Patrick did was basically take a default position that he had so much of a lead in fundraising and visibility, that the best move for him was to just make sure that nobody else could get any visibility or oxygen, and he would win by default,” she recounts. “And I think that a lot of people who ended up voting for him, voted for him because they didn’t even know that they had another choice, or given the opportunity to see that they had a choice.

“But the name of the game of politics is winning, and his strategy worked, so you can’t fault him for doing what he thinks you need to do to win. I just think that’s not in the interest of voters.”

Perhaps Keith’s biggest moment during her quixotic campaign occurred a few weeks ago, when the Miami Herald editorial board endorsed her for the Democratic nomination, choosing her over Murphy and Grayson. Keith called that unexpected decision “a validation” of her candidacy. “It’s such a respected publication,” she said. “They didn’t do the ‘hey, this is the front-runner thing, so the front-runner gets our endorsement.’ They asked tough questions, and they based their decision on the merits of the answers given by the candidates.”

But for every positive moment like garnering the Herald’s endorsement, Keith continued to feel a lack of respect that comes in part from never having held public office. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel never invited her in for an endorsement interview, she says. Nor did the AFL-CIO. “I can’t say that I was allowed to compete head to head, and I didn’t win.  You know, that’s not exactly what happened.”

With a very real chance of recapturing the U.S. Senate this fall, the Democratic Party in Washington and Tallahassee rallied around Murphy immediately after he declared his candidacy for the Senate in the spring of 2015, with Barack Obama and Joe Biden making an unusual endorsement of Murphy early on. At that moment the party wasn’t even attempting to be unbiased in telegraphing who they were pulling for, a charge many Bernie Sanders supporters made about former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic National Committee frequently over the past year.

“I definitely think the president should not have chimed in this race,” Keith said. “I don’t think the titular head of a party should be endorsing candidates in primaries. I think that’s wrong, and it doesn’t make for a fair race. And if we start to lose faith that we have fair primaries, then we lose something critical, and I’m not sure that it can be fixed in the future if we let it go.”

While some of her supporters are already inquiring about her running for another office in two to four years, Keith said she’s not willing to commit to anything yet — other than that after a year-and-half on the road competing with limited financial resources, she needs a job. “If you know anyone’s hiring?” she laughed, before addressing the disappointment she hears from Florida progressives, not exactly thrilled about a Murphy candidacy.

“In politics, sometimes the candidates you want sometimes don’t win and sometimes things don’t go the way that you want them to, but you gotta keep your eye on the bigger picture, and you must be pragmatic, and there are a lot of things at stake this year, and I don’t want people to use their disappointment or their bitterness to be a block toward making rational choices.

“Our country needs us to be clearheaded, and to be pragmatic, and I’m inviting all my fellow Floridians out there to take heed of that.”

Joe Henderson: In the end, Jim Norman was doomed by his own voice

When Jim Norman announced last year that he would try to resurrect his political career by running for the District 6 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission, eyebrows arched all over Tampa.

I mean, the man was toting a lot of baggage, if you get my drift. But among his many traits, Norman really trusts the sound of his own voice. He no doubt thought he could smooth-talk his way past his controversies and back into the voters’ good graces.

His game plan, straight from the Denial 101 handbook, was to confront the issues about his ethics, or lack thereof — and to place the blame for those problems on anyone but him.

It didn’t work. The ploy was a spectacular failure, as voters said “nope, no way, no how” to Norman and showered love on his Republican primary opponent, Tim Schock.

So, on what appropriately seems a tropically depressing morning for the once-powerful Norman, we no doubt bid adieu to a career that at times seemed to be skyrocketing. Schock beat Norman 62-38 percent, and if that’s not a total repudiation of a candidate by the voters, I’m not sure what is.

There were, of course, other high-profile losers Tuesday.

Voters sent scandal-plagued Corrine Brown to the sidelines in North Florida. U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson was soundly beaten by Patrick Murphy for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination. Norman’s loss, deservedly, won’t get the same attention those will.

In Hillsborough, though, Norman was a widely known and polarizing figure. After three terms on the county commission, Norman was elected to the state Senate in 2010.

His star appeared to be rising there, but just as quickly began to plummet. He had to run again 2012 because of redistricting, but withdrew following questions about how his wife and late conservative power broker Ralph Hughes worked out a deal for a $435,000 house. There was a controversial trip to Las Vegas where Norman was spotted at a casino with a lobbyist. He was never charged, but did agree to an admission of an ethics violation and withdrew from his Senate re-election campaign.

“I didn’t break the law or I wouldn’t be standing here,” Norman said at a meeting I attended last year at The Tampa Tribune when he announced his commission bid. “But my antenna should have been going up and it didn’t. I’ve learned from my mistakes.”

Voters had learned something too, though.

They learned they didn’t trust him.

Schock hammered that point home during the campaign and it stuck. Norman seemed to sense he was doomed as the last days wound down before the voters made their judgment official. He lashed out as questions about his background kept coming up.

Norman’s gift always was making a person feel like they were the most important person in the room. The problem was, that usually wasn’t the case. Norman actually was a pretty lousy commissioner, too.

During what I thought was a moment of high comedy in his meeting at the Tribune, he declared that sprawl, traffic and unchecked growth were major problems that had to be addressed. Yet, much of that growth came on Norman’s watch, and he was a reliable vote for development without regard to impact.

Scandals aside, Norman came to represent the past — a past voters said had no place in the future.

The race in November for this seat should be close and interesting between Schock and Democrat Pat Kemp. Either one offers a new direction and voice, which is sadly needed on a body that wields much power in a huge county.

And in the end, Jim Norman was doomed by his own voice. The more he tried to talk, the more voters decided they had heard it all before.

Mitch Perry Report for 8.31.16 – Moving on to November

Good morning, everyone.

Florida’s primary election is history. So, where to begin?

Patrick Murphy will face Marco Rubio in November. Murphy crushed Alan Grayson, 59  to 18 percent, with Pam Keith a close third at 15 percent. Rubio gets credit for honesty, saying that he can’t say for sure that he’ll fulfill all six years of his term if elected, which naturally Murphy is attempting to exploit.

Boy, this race is going to get tawdry.

In what has to be considered a mini-upset, St. Petersburg’s Darryl Rouson holds an ever-so-slight lead over Ed Narain when all the votes were tabulated in last night’s Senate District 19 race. With over 37,000 votes cast on both sides of the Bay, Rouson had 61 more votes, close enough to trigger an automatic machine recount after Thursday. A huge (probable) win for Rouson, and a big loss for not just Narain, but the Florida Democratic Party, who have viewed Narain as an up-and-coming star in the party. He likely will be back, but not in 2017.

Augie Ribeiro did decently in St. Pete in terms of votes, but there was no way he was able to get his name out effectively enough in such a short time. A lot of people are talking today about how big money came up short in this election, but in the case of Ribeiro, he was trying to go from zero to 60 in less than two months.

You don’t have Jim Norman to kick around anymore, Hillsborough Democrats, Republicans and members of the media. That comeback experience ended last night, and now his GOP opponent, Tim Schock, advances to the general election against Pat Kemp. That should be a good battle, and one would think the Hillsborough Dems would get strongly behind Kemp. If not, they’re looking at a board that will have a 6-1 Republican advantage.

Jackie Toledo narrowly edged out Rebecca Smith in the GOP House District 60 race. Congrats to Toledo, who absolutely outworked Smith in the grassroots to get more votes.

The trash talking has already begun in the CD 13 race between David Jolly and Charlie Crist after Jolly cruised to an easy re-election victory in his GOP race for the nomination.

In the end, it wasn’t all that close in South Florida, as former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz defeated insurgent progressive challenger Tim Canova by 14 points, 57 to 43 percent in the race for Congress in Florida’s 23rd District.

Ben Diamond defeated Eric Lynn in the highly competitive House District 68 race in Pinellas County.

Tampa attorney Sean Shaw won a close contest against East Tampa businesswoman Dianne Hart in the House District 61 seat.

Pat Frank whipped Kevin Beckner in the Hillsborough Clerk of the Courts race.

Daniel Webster wins in CD 11.

It wouldn’t be Election Day in Hillsborough County with some report of shenanigans taking place. As this one went, however, it was pretty small potatoes.

Murphy’s comment to us on Monday that he’d likely pursue adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act continues to ruffle the waters, as this statement from Americans for Prosperity Florida indicates.

Sarasota area Republican Alex Miller says she’ll change her main TV ad now that she’s going to the general election in House District 72, after several members of the public stated that they didn’t appreciate her “one of us” tagline.

With a major storm approaching Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn used the occasion yesterday to lobby City Council members to approve his $250 million stormwater infrastructure improvement plan.

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