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Marco Rubio, Patrick Murphy win Florida’s Senate primaries

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy each easily won their primaries Tuesday, setting up a November showdown that’s guaranteed to be nasty as each party grapples for a majority in the Senate.

Rubio, who decided at the last second to seek a second term, easily fended off millionaire homebuilder Carlos Beruff and Murphy used the backing of President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders to defeat U.S. Rep Alan Grayson, who was counting on his party’s most faithful liberal voters to overcome Murphy’s money and establishment support.

In other contests, former Democrat Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was hoping to keep her seat in Congress against Tim Canova, a Bernie Sanders-backed law professor who was able to raises more than $3 million.

Rubio had declared during his failed presidential campaign that he would not run again for Senate. But he nearly cleared what had been a crowded GOP field with his last-minute turnabout.

Beruff rolled the dice to see if the anti-establishment mood powering Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign could send him to Washington as well. But after spending $8 million of his own money and going nowhere in the polls, he essentially shut down his campaign ahead of the primary.

Rubio supporters at his party near Walt Disney World whooped and chanted “Marco! Marco! Marco!” when The Associated Press declared him the winner.

“I voted for Marco only because I’ve been a longstanding supporter,” said Diane Martin-Johnson, 66, after voting early Tuesday in Pinellas Park. “It’s unfortunate he didn’t do his job fully in Washington this term. I do think he deserves another chance. He thought he was doing the right thing (by running for president). That’s my only complaint against him. He’s a good man.”

Murphy, a former Republican, quickly earned party support and raised significantly more money. He was also backed by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Grayson, a fiery liberal known for brash comments and hamstrung by a difficult divorce, relied mostly on small donors and feuded with party leaders.

Todd Martin, 53, and his 18-year-old daughter Haley, voted together in Tallahassee, where they recently moved as she starts college. They both chose Murphy, in part because they like his efforts to get government to address algae outbreaks near their former home in Vero Beach.

“I grew up on the river and it’s a shame what they let happen,” Todd Martin said. “I like where Patrick Murphy stands on the algae. It’s very important to me.”

Secretary of State Ken Detzner said there were slight delays in opening some polling places, but described no other glitches. More than 1.75 million Floridians already cast ballots by mail or at early-voting stations before polls opened Tuesday.

This year’s primary turnout could top ones held in 2012 and 2014- a sign that competitive races for Congress and the Florida Legislature could be driving up turnout this time around.

Rubio and Murphy took opposite approaches on primary day. Rubio had no public events scheduled before polls closed, while Murphy began his day at 7 a.m. at a Miami-Dade polling site, joined by Gov. Bob Graham, a former senator, and his daughter, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham. Murphy also visited two other South Florida polling sites.

Wasserman Schultz jumped to an early lead over Canova in a primary colored by leaked emails revealing that DNC officials had worked against Sanders to favor Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.

Democrats also hope to gain seats in Florida’s heavily Republican House delegation after court-mandated redistricting chipped away the advantages of some incumbents.

Florida had to rip up and redraw its congressional maps after they were found to violate the state constitution’s provision requiring compact districts that don’t favor incumbents or political parties. That spurred one of the state’s most heavily contested congressional election years. Several races will essentially be decided in the primary and Florida will eventually send at least seven new House members to Washington.

Republicans now outnumber Democrats 17-10 in the state’s congressional delegation. If Democrats sweep all four seats seen as competitive in November, that Republican advantage could be reduced to 14-13.

One of those is now held by U.S. Rep. David Jolly, a Republican who was expected to win Tuesday, but who would then have to beat former Gov. Charlie Crist, who used to be a Republican but is now a Democrat.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Mitch Perry Report for 8.30.16 – Election Day questions

Primary Election Day is here, finally, for those of us who care. Because that isn’t close to the majority of registered voters in Florida.

Going into today, the turnout by percentage via early and absentee voting here in Hillsborough County where I’m located was lower than it turned out to be in 2012, which Congresswoman Kathy Castor says is disappointing.

We’re talking below 20 percent, folks. Whether that percentage might increase if the election weren’t held in the last week of August is something really not worth contemplating, since tradition has kept at this time for, well, ever since I came to this state back in 2000. Then again, we still had runoff primary elections in the state at that time.

So, what will I be looking at tonight? In my neighborhood of V.M. Ybor in Tampa, there are open seats for the House (between Sean ShawDianne Hart and Walter Smith) and Senate (Ed NarainAugie RibeiroDarryl Rouson and Betty Reed). Both are too close to call in my opinion at this time.

The House District 68 seat is up for grabs as well between Ben Diamond and Eric Lynn.

I suppose the most competitive congressional race in the Tampa Bay area is probably in CD 11, where first-time Republican candidate Justin Grabelle will try to defeat Daniel Webster, a well-known name in Florida Republican politics who has never run in the district, which encompasses Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter Counties.

But there isn’t any drama in our U.S. Senate races. The Alan GraysonPatrick Murphy had the potential to be one of the greats, but it’s devolved. Will underdog Pam Keith get into the high single digits after her endorsement from the Miami Herald?

At least Murphy is talking substance as he likely moves on the general. Yesterday, in Tampa, he told me he’ll push for a public option to be added to the Affordable Care Act if elected in November. He has to win tonight, first though.

And tonight we have the Pat FrankKevin Beckner campaign mercifully comes to an end. Despite criticism for running what has been dubbed by some as a negative campaign, Beckner says he has no regrets.

Victory seems assured for Debbie Wasserman Schultz in her bid for reelection against Tim Canova in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, but by what margin? Does she win by double-digits, and if so, how much?

Stay tuned to this site later tonight, where we’ll have complete coverage throughout the state of the primary results.

Marco Rubio, Patrick Murphy look confident before Florida’s Senate primary

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy are campaigning as if Tuesday’s primary was already over and they won their parties’ nominations for U.S. Senate.

And it may be for good reason. Rubio’s main challenger, Carlos Beruff, appeared to throw in the towel, essentially shutting down the campaign he’d sunk $8 million of his own money into. And Murphy’s main challenger, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, has been damaged by ethics and domestic abuse allegations, leaving Murphy to focus on Rubio.

That leaves congressional races as some of the more exciting to watch during Tuesday’s primary, the first since court-mandated redistricting undid advantages for some incumbents and prompting one of the liveliest campaigns in many seasons. Congresswoman and former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is receiving an unexpectedly strong challenge from a Bernie Sanders-backed political novice.

Voters will also decide whether to amend the state constitution to allow a property tax break to promote solar power. And many of the state’s congressional primaries almost certainly assure the victor will be elected in November because of the political makeup of the district.

Republican primaries to replace retiring GOP Congressmen Jeff Miller, Ander Crenshaw, Curt Clawson and Richard Nugent will likely decide who is sent to Washington in November. The same goes for the Republican primary to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who is exploring a run for governor after her district was redrawn in a way that favors the GOP. Democratic primaries to replace Grayson and Murphy will also likely choose the next members of Congress in those districts.

Still, the Senate race is the main event, and one that took several twists along the way. Rubio wasn’t even supposed to be on the ballot, declaring he’d run for president instead of seeking a second term. Rubio dropped out of the presidential race when Donald Trump trounced him in Florida, but he still said he was done with the Senate. Then, two days before the deadline to get on the ballot, he changed his mind, chasing all Republicans but Beruff out of the race.

The Democratic primary pits former Republican and party establishment favorite Murphy against Grayson, a fiery liberal whose outspoken candor makes him unelectable in the minds of party leaders. Despite voting with Republicans far more often than Grayson, Murphy is backed by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Grayson has run a maverick campaign, condemning his party’s leaders and saying Murphy will be a puppet for leadership and special interests.

With comfortable leads in the polls, Rubio and Murphy took a similar strategy: Ignore the primary opposition. Both declined to debate their opponents, choosing instead to attack each other.

Rubio said he didn’t debate Beruff because there wasn’t enough time.

“He didn’t really seem that interested in debates not that long ago,” Rubio said in the days leading up to the primary. And when asked about the primary, Rubio turned the subject to Murphy, saying, “I take every race seriously. I’ll have more events today than Patrick Murphy will have all week.”

Rubio’s campaign has been issuing near-daily attacks on Murphy while virtually ignoring Grayson.

It was clear, though, that Beruff wanted a debate, particularly investing so much money trying to build his name recognition. He repeatedly criticized Rubio for not agree to an exchange, saying he should “man up” and calling him a coward.

Murphy called off the only debate schedule with Grayson after the mother of Grayson’s children said he abused her over the two decades they lived together, an accusation he has denied. Instead, Murphy focused nearly all is attention on Rubio. Murphy’s second ad of the campaign, released four weeks before the primary, attacks Rubio for missing votes while running for president.

During a phone interview, Murphy said Rubio is more concerned about his political ambition.

“He constantly says ‘I’m in this for Florida,’ but he’s clearly not running for Senate for Florida. He’s never been there for Florida; he’s never been there for a local issue; he’s never shown up for work. He’s in this for himself,” Murphy said.

It’s a similar message Grayson has made about Murphy, that there is no substance behind the candidate. Grayson repeatedly points out that Murphy was a Republican until he decided to run for Congress. He has voted with Republicans on bills that would have weakened Obama’s health care overhaul and he supported a committee to investigate Hillary Clinton’s handling of the attacks that killed four Americans at a compound in Benghazi, Libya.

“They’re desperately trying to take this empty suit and make him into a plausible candidate for U.S. Senator and they’re failing,” Grayson said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Marco Rubio makes final swing through Florida ahead of primary

Marco Rubio looked to define his opponent Monday, telling Southwest Florida voters there will be a clear contrast come Election Day.

“The Democrats will have a primary tomorrow, and we’ll see who their choice is,” said Rubio during a stop at the Cape Coral Military Museum. “I can tell you who the Democratic choice is … it’s a congressman from Palm Beach named Patrick Murphy. If he is their nominee, I look forward to the choice voters have.”

Rubio made no mention of his own primary challenge during his remarks Monday morning. Instead he used the speech as a chance to highlight the differences between himself and Murphy, and encourage voters to get to the polls come November.

Rubio faces Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County homebuilder, in Tuesday’s Republican primary. He is largely expected to win the primary, and recent polls show Rubio leads Beruff by double digits.

“We’re very confident. Obviously we worked very hard and we feel good about tomorrow, and we’ll see what voters decide,” he told reporters. “But no matter what, we got to win in November — and that’s true across the ballot, so I thought today was a good day to kind of focus on November and what’s at stake.”

And what’s at stake, Rubio told the crowd, is the future of the country. The Miami Republican said Murphy has a “sense of entitlement.”

“The U.S. Senate seat doesn’t belong to the people who want to buy it, it belongs to the people of the state,” said Rubio. “I’m running for re-election, and I have to earn the right to continue to represent you. And that’s what I intend to do.”

The stop in Southwest Florida was the first of four campaign stops Monday. He was also scheduled to attend events in Bay County and Pensacola, before ending his day in Miami. He was joined by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who ended his own U.S. Senate bid when Rubio jumped into the race.

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican and a member of Rubio’s Southwest Florida grassroots leadership team, introduced Rubio, saying she was supporting him because “of who he is and where he came from.”

“He’ll tell you the story … about his father who is the bartender and his mother who was a maid. It really is that simple — when you come from nothing you know what it is to push, to work, to ask people to believe in you to achieve your own maximum potential,” she said. “He thinks of the least among us, to make sure … those that want to realize the American dream can do it here in an environment that wants them to be successful.”

Patrick Murphy says he’ll push for public option to be added to ACA if elected to the Senate

Patrick Murphy says if he is elected to the U.S. Senate in November, he’ll push to provide a public option to the Affordable Care Act.

“At least in rural areas, where you don’t have much competition,” the Jupiter representative and Senate Democratic hopeful said on while making a campaign stop on Monday morning in West Tampa. He said that would be an added option for people on the ACA, “and beyond that, to make sure that there is competition ultimately.”

Passed six years ago, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) still divides the country and the Congress. Most Republicans continue to call for repealing the entire measure, though they rarely have provided a viable alternative. Democrats have stood by it for the most part, but even some of the law’s biggest supporters say it needs an overhaul.

Earlier this month, health care giant Aetna announced it had lost more than $400 million on Obamacare policies since the insurance exchanges were set up in 2014, and was going to pull out of most of them, including in Florida. That followed similar announcements made by United Healthcare and Humana.

Which means fewer choices for those on the ACA. Lack of competition means higher premiums and/or lower benefits. A public option would be a federal option open to anyone on the individual market, and Murphy said he’d push for it if elected in November. Hillary Clinton has made similar comments on the campaign trail.

“The key is like any issue — it’s acknowledging that there are some things that are working, and that some things that need to be fixed,” Murphy said. “No legislation that is passed — or rarely I should say — is perfect, and you have to evolve with the times to see what’s actually working. Unfortunately, in Washington you have a group of people that basically want to shut down the government … they say throw the whole thing and start over, without offering solutions to it.”

Murphy was in the Tampa Bay area for the third straight Monday leading into Tuesday’s primary election, where he’s facing Congressman Alan Grayson and retired Navy JAG officer Pam Keith for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. However, Murphy never talks about his fellow Democrats on the campaign trail, instead looking ahead to a November matchup against incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.

Murphy appeared shortly before 9 a.m. at the West Tampa Sandwich Shop, a traditional stop for Democrats running for office to make an appearance at (Barack Obama was there in September of 2012). He was joined by state Rep. Janet Cruz, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco, and Hillsborough County Commission hopeful Pat Kemp, among others. Murphy spent time speaking to other “regular voters” who had assembled at the table, which gave him the opportunity to discuss his plans for immigration, health care and the economy. And diss Rubio.

“Climate change — I believe it’s happening, I believe it’s real, I believe we have to get off this addiction to fossil fuels; Sen. Marco Rubio denies it’s happening,” he said while speaking to reporters after spending more than half an hour sitting at a table and talking about some of the issues he’s running on.

“It’s like infrastructure. I believe we need to make the investments. He doesn’t believe in that. I want to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He does not want to do that. He wants to support Donald Trump, who wants to build a wall, and deport 11 million people the first day. Sen. Rubio has completely lost sight of his values and his morals, because he’s so worried about running for president again.”

“Patrick Murphy promised voters that Obamacare’s state exchanges would bring down costs and create more competition, but Floridians are finding that the exact opposite has happened,” said Rubio spokesman Michael Ahrens. “Obamacare has left them with fewer health care options and skyrocketing premiums they can’t afford, yet Patrick Murphy’s answer is to expand the program and make things worse for Florida’s families. Marco will keep fighting for a patient-centered alternative that improves choices for consumers, costs Floridians less, and helps everyone get the coverage they need.”

Following his West Tampa appearance, Murphy was scheduled to make campaign stops in Orlando and Miami. His campaign announced he will be spending election night in Palm Beach Gardens.

Tom Jackson: Maybe if we thought of primaries as playoffs …

The impression I get is people have the wrong idea about primary elections. To apply a sports analogy, people — I’d call them voters, except they’re plainly not — think of primaries as the exhibition season.

This is not without solid foundation. I mean, they do sort of look like the preseason. Starry-eyed unknowns hoping to take down the veteran; once-storied hotshots looking for one last hurrah. (I’m looking at you, Jim Norman.)

And the way we treat it, it’s like the Grapefruit League and NFL preseason rolled into one: fun to talk about, but if we miss it, meh, there’s always the Big One in November.

Even the name we give it sounds lightweight: the primaries, suggesting nothing more than a scrimmage among unknowns. It’s the I’ll-get-around-to-it-unless-something-else-comes-up election, and given the usual turnouts, something usually does.

Hillsborough County’s elections Supervisor Craig Latimer is pretty fired up that about 104,000 ballots have been cast by mail (76,687) and at early voting precincts (27,667). But even if that number doubles come Tuesday’s Election Day — a stretch, with storms anticipated — it’ll mean only slightly more than a quarter of the county’s eligible voters will have bothered.

In the greater Tampa Bay area, early and mail turnout has been slightly better in Pinellas (19.5 percent) and Manatee (16.6 percent), but it’s worse in Pasco (11 percent) and Polk (9.9 percent).

At least those elections supervisors are reporting numbers. With a website that gives every sign of not having been updated in a month and is otherwise practically indecipherable, how Sarasota County is doing is anybody’s guess.

Moreover, given the number of studies that suggest early and mail balloting do not expand voter participation, but merely front-load it with those who’d otherwise show up on Election Day, it’s fair to predict — for all the hype about how this year is changing the very nature of elections — that nothing, really, is different.

Maybe we’re distracted by the approach of Labor Day. Or settling back into the school routine.

Maybe it’s the candidates, although the race for U.S. Senate scarcely lacks for intrigue, Republicans presenting “Liddle” Marco Rubio versus Carlos “Mini-Donald” Beruff and Democrats countering with Patrick “Never Mind My Resume” Murphy and Alan “I’ll Say Anything” Grayson.

Who wouldn’t want to help decide those? Answer: Close to 75 percent of us. Did I mention Labor Day?

Or maybe it’s a marketing problem.

Maybe if we called this first round something packing a little more brinksmanship, it would better stir the public’s passions. Like, say, “the semifinals.” Or, borrowing from professional sports, which have their conference or league championships, suppose we called them the “Party Championships,” and capitalized them.

Gives you a tingle, right? Makes you feel something important is at stake? Sort of makes you want to throw down? Heck, yeah.

In fact, in most cases, the party championship — excuse me, the Party Championship — is precisely what we’re deciding. What self-respecting major-party member couldn’t get charged up about that?

Add contests for circuit and county judges and the interesting, to say the least, primary election placement of a state constitutional amendment regarding the tax treatment of solar arrays on homesteaded property, and, folks, we don’t just have a major-party playoff happening Tuesday.

We have a playoff with the equivalent of a pregame tailgate party.

And if all that is insufficient motivation, remember this: If you skip out, you’re ceding influence to people who will vote.

Like me.

Mitch Perry Report for 8.29.16 — Colin Kaepernick says he can take the heat for speaking out

The National Football League concluded its third and most interesting weekend of pre-season games last night, and while there are stories galore about what’s happening on the gridiron (Denver sacking Mark SanchezTony Romo out for a few months with another injury, Jameis Winston looking quite impressive with the Tampa Bay Bucs against the lowly Cleveland Browns), the big story was out of Santa Clara, where 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem before their game against Green Bay on Friday night, the third time he’s done so this exhibition season, but the first time anybody noticed.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

He spoke with the media yesterday about why he did what he did, and he’s absolutely NOT backing down (you can read that entire transcript here).

Kaepernick is the first high-profile professional athlete in America who has refused to stand for the anthem since Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf did so in 1996 — an action which got him suspended by the NBA. The NFL has said they won’t do that.

Naturally, this has created a firestorm, with a lot of folks bashing the 28-year-old athlete, who surely knew that would be the case. One of the more interesting comments about this came from Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, 28, who, it’s been reported, has often spoken about race relations during his eight-year career. He said the national conversation would devolve around Kaepernick, and not the issues he wants to bring to the fore.

“It’s not going to be about the lives that have been lost across the country, the injustices that are being done to minorities all across this country; that’s what’s not going to be in the headlines. It’s going to be about him,” Jenkins said. “It’s a tough situation, but at the same time, if you’ve got something that you’re passionate about and that’s your way of expressing it, you’ve got all the right to do it. I’m a guy of conviction, I speak out on things I see. So I can’t really look at what he’s doing and tell him he’s wrong.”

It is going to be about him, and since he makes millions of dollars playing in the NFL, plenty of it that commentary will be along the lines that he should shut up and be grateful for getting the opportunity to play in the pros.

“I think there’s a lot of consequences that come along with this,” Kaepernick admitted yesterday. “There’s a lot of people that don’t want to have this conversation, they’re scared they might lose their job or they might not get the endorsements, they might not be treated the same way … At this point, I’ve been blessed to be able to get this far and have the privilege of being in the NFL and making the kind of money I make and enjoy luxuries like that … But I can’t look in the mirror and see other people dying in the street that should have the same opportunities that I’ve had and say, ‘You know what; I can live with myself.’ Because I can’t if I just watch.”

This takes guts, whether you’re with him or against him. Not being said at all was that he looked extremely rusty against the Packers, though it was his first game in nearly 300 days after battling injuries a year ago. People praised Muhammed Ali when he passed away for being an athlete who used his powerful platform to talk about social change — forgotten was how scorned he was by large segments of (white) America when he did so.

And note this — Kap has issues with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

“I mean, we have a presidential candidate who’s deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate,” he said of the former first lady and secretary of state. “That doesn’t make sense to me, because if that was any other person, you’d be in prison.”

In other news, a day before the primary election in Florida….

Win or lose, Augie Ribeiro has helped make a few political consultants wealthier in the last month, as the SD 19 candidate has now spent more than $672,000 in his quest to go the Florida state Senate.

Darryl Rouson and Alan Grayson made beautiful music together late last week in Tampa.

Clearwater state senator and incoming appropriations chairman Jack Latvala called out local Republicans for having “their head in the sand” when it came to stepping up on supporting mass transit in the Tampa Bay area.

The cantankerous Republican also said come hell or high water, he’ll be voting for Donald Trump in November, in part because of his feelings about Hillary Clinton following his viewing of the film, “13 Hours.”

Darryl Rouson and Alan Grayson team up in Tampa to say they both speak “truth to power”

Alan Grayson and Darryl Rouson teamed up Thursday night to try to win support in their respective campaigns while speaking in northwest Hillsborough County.

“I am honored to be here today to introduce a man who from Day 1 in Washington D.C. has taken the tea party agenda to the stage, and has whooped them every time he got a chance to do so,” Rouson said in introducing Grayson to a crowd of 20 people who gathered at the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Public Library in Westchase Thursday night. “He’s been the most vociferous and committed opponent of the conservative Republican agenda that has hurt working-class families.”

Rouson said that, like himself, Grayson had become a “top target of the right-wing and big money interests that are scared to death of what he represents: And what he represents is speaking truth to power.”

Rouson, who has served for the past eight years as a state representative, is attempting to win the state Senate District 19 seat based in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. He’s running in the Democratic primary against Ed Narain, Betty Reed, and Augie Ribeiro.

Grayson returned the compliment, saying, “What we desperately need now is people in public office who are unbought and unbiased. Who don’t owe anything to anybody but the people. And Darryl reflects that.”

The Orlando Congressman — trying desperately to pull out what at this stage would be considered an upset victory over Patrick Murphy in Tuesday’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary, went on to say “you won’t find a better champion for the environment anywhere in Tallahassee. You won’t find a better champion for women’s rights. You won’t find a better champion for what the middle class in America actually needs today. And you won’t find a better champion who is willing to speak truth to power. There’s an old saying that it’s necessary to speak truth to power even if it makes you quake inside. Well, it’s actually Republicans who quake inside when it’s Darryl saying those words.”

Grayson went on to boast about how he’s raised most of his campaign contributions from small donors, and that distinguishes him from the other members of Congress who beg for campaign contributions for hours every day.

“What we represent — Darryl and I — is an alternative paradigm to that; the idea is very simple. If you do good things for people, then they will show you their support.”

The two spent about an hour at the event before traveling to Pinellas County to attend the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee meeting.

Florida Chamber poll: Marco Rubio, Patrick Murphy walloping opponents

Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy are poised to win their party’s nomination come Tuesday, but a new poll from the Florida Chamber Political Institute found Florida voters don’t know or don’t like many of the candidates on the ballot.

The statewide poll shows Rubio leads Manatee County Republican Carlos Beruff by nearly 50 percentage points. The poll shows Rubio is at 68 percent, while Beruff is at 19 percent. Ten percent of respondents said they were still undecided.

On the Democratic side, Murphy is beating Rep. Alan Grayson by nearly 30 percentage points. The survey showed Murphy is at 40 percent to Grayson’s 11 percent. There are more undecided voters on the Democratic side, with 38 percent of respondents said they were still undecided.

Marian Johnson, the senior vice president of government and political relations at the Chamber, said it is unusual to see so many voters still undecided.

“A week sounds like a short time, but it can be a lifetime for a campaign and provide candidates the opportunity to make solid gains that can improve their outcome,” she said in a statement. “It’s unusual to see this many undecided voters this close to the election, but for candidates, it’s good news. They still have time to move the voters.”

They don’t have that much time. Nearly 1.2 million voters have already cast a ballot ahead of the Aug. 30 primary, according to the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

While Rubio and Murphy are poised to win their primaries, they both face some problems when it comes to how voters view them. The survey found 44 percent of voters polled said they had an unfavorable view of Rubio, while 41 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party.

The survey didn’t include favorability ratings for Murphy, but 46 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party; while 56 percent said they had an unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.

The Florida Chamber also looked at how Donald Trump is faring in Florida, and found 52 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of the Republican nominee. That could be problematic for down ticket races across the state.

“The data clearly shows that Donald Trump’s name recognition may impact Republican candidates down ballot — particularly in large metropolitan South Florida areas,” said Andrew Wiggins, the senior director of campaign and elections at the Florida Chamber. “And, digging deep into the numbers, Trump continues to trail Hillary Clinton in South Florida, trailing by 19 points in Miami-Dade and by 15 points in West Palm Beach.”

The survey also found Amendment 4, which deals with tax exemptions for businesses using solar, is poised to pass. The survey found 70 percent of respondents said they would vote for it; while 14 percent said they weren’t supporting it.

The Florida Chamber’s political poll was conducted from Aug. 17 until Aug. 22 by Cherry Communications. The Chamber surveyed 608 likely Florida voters, and has a margin of error of 4 percent.

Like Zika, other major unfinished business as Congress left for summer is TPP

Anyone paying attention to Florida politics right now knows that Congress is on summer recess until Labor Day.

We know this because we are constantly being reminded by Democratic politicians that Congress broke for six weeks without passing a Zika funding bill.

While Zika is the current football being passed to and fro in our politics, it is worth noting that Congress adjourned without passing another piece of legislation with big, long- and short-term consequences: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, known as TPP.

Last fall, Congress narrowly approved the trade promotion authority (TPA) needed for President Obama to negotiate TPP and bring it back before Congress for an up-or-down vote. TPA/TPP are the rare issues that are truly bipartisan; Democrats are Republicans were almost equally divided on the bills’ merits.

This division is on acute display among Florida members of Congress in tough elections. To wit, Rep. Patrick Murphy, generally considered the type of New Democrat amenable to a free-trade agreement. Murphy voted against TPA while facing a then-strong challenge from liberal wife beater, Alan Grayson. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, in a tough re-election fight to hold the seat he took from Joe Garcia in 2014, was whipped by leadership to vote for TPA, but was a late decider and might well have voted “nay” had the Speaker not needed his vote.

Both are considered “swing” votes on the passage of TPP, whenever that vote ultimately occurs (at this point likely in the “lame duck” Congress, post elections).

Despite their equal and opposite votes and political pickles on TPA/TPP, Murphy and Curbelo forged bipartisan consensus on some of their shared concerns over the law’s passage. As FloridaPolitics.com previously reported, the two young members from South Florida jointly penned a July 10, 2015, letter to Ambassador Michael Froman, the U.S. Trade Representative, urging a fair resolution to a dispute between a Jacksonville-based company and an Australian bank, over an obscure Australian law*.

They implored Froman to give his “full attention” to the “serious and valid concerns” expressed in their letter. In doing so they gave voice to reservations about TPP from both parties, forcing members to pose the question, “if an existing trading partner and ally, like Australia, can cause such undue harm to a U.S. business interest, what do we have to fear from less established international actors who would be included in this new, broader trade pact?”

(*APR Energy, in Jacksonville, leased tens of millions of dollars in power generation equipment to an Australian utility that subsequently went bankrupt. Because of Australia’s ironically named “Personal Properties and Securities Act” (PPSA), APR’s equipment was summarily seized by the receiver, ANZ Bank and is currently being essentially leased back to APR after they posted a $60 million USD guarantee with the bank.)

Murphy and Curbelo sent that letter nearly a year ago, but its message is beginning to resonate.

Republican Rep. Alex Mooney of West Virginia seized on the issue in a speech on the House floor in late July. Mooney called the APR/ANZ dispute an “injustice” and the PPSA an “unfair and inequitable law … contrary to the basic right to own and possess private property guaranteed under the U.S. constitution.” He goes on to say that “laws like [PPSA] should make it very difficult for any member of congress to vote for [TPP].”

Curbelo, for his part, weighed back in a day after Mooney, concurring with him that, “[PPSA] is contrary to the elemental right to own and conduct international business, as well as due process and equal treatment.” He reiterates his support for TPP as a potentially “powerful policy for America’s economy” but cautions the need to address “policies and practices [like PPSA] that give trade a bad name.”

As Congress enters week five (six? seven?) of its long, hot, summer break, Zika funding remains unpassed, as does TPP, and a Florida company continues to pay for the privilege of possessing its own private property. At some point, even Florida gets cool enough to kill off the mosquitoes of summer. Unanswered is, in the absence of a resolution between APR and ANZ, will the PPSA kill TPP or will TPP allow the PPSA to kill American jobs and investment?

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