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Endorsement Watch: Conservative Leadership PAC, Florida Realtors, National Organization for Women in Florida, and others issue endorsements

There are just a few weeks until the election, and organizations across the state are rolling out endorsements for state and federal candidates.

Several organizations — including the Conservative Leadership PAC, the National Organization for Women in Florida, and Florida REALTORS PAC — issued endorsements.

The International Association of Firefighters and the Florida Professional Fire Fighters endorsed Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate.

“We know Patrick will continue to stand up for workers’ rights, fight to protect retirement benefits, and work to keep our firefighters and communities safe,” said Harold Schaitberger, the general president of the IAFF. “Florida’s professional firefighters can count on Patrick Murphy to fight for them in the U.S. Senate.”

Murphy faces Alan Grayson in the Aug. 30 primary.

“In the U.S. Senate, I will fight to make sure our firefighters and their families have the resources and protections that they need to succeed,” said Murphy. “Florida’s firefighters work hard every day to keep our state and our country safe, and they deserve a Senator who will show up and work hard for them.”

The Conservative Leadership PAC has endorsed Mary Thomas in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District.

“At 38 years old and a young mom, young professional, first-generation American, and strong constitutional conservative, Mary Thomas represents a fresh new generation of conservative leaders for America,” said Morton Blackwell, the organization’s founder. “We … are excited to support Mary’s candidacy and are we are also very proud to announce that our youth directors are actively working on the ground in Mary’s district organizing young people to support Mary Thomas for Congress.”

The organization was founded in 1990 and is dedicated to training and deploying activists to help conservatives with the youth vote.

“Our campaign is about saving the American Dream for the next generation. No one has more a stake in this election than young voters. The very survival of America, our way of life, and the free market are in jeopardy if we don’t work to elect some fresh, new, true conservative voices,” said Thomas in a statement. “That is why I am so pleased and excited to have the support of the Conservative Leadership PAC. Our CLPAC youth field directors Ivy and Colby have been instrumental in our ability to mount a true grassroots ground game to get out our message to the Republican voters in the 19 counties of District Two.”

Thomas faces Neal Dunn and Ken Sukhia in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The Martin 9/12 Tea Party Committee has endorsed Rebecca Negron in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

“Rebecca has fought for educational issues while a member of the Martin County School Board,” the organization said in its endorsement. “Her work exposing the deficiencies of Common Core has earned her the endorsement of the statewide education advocacy group, Florida Parents Against Common Core.”

Negron, the wife of Senate President Designate Joe Negron, faces Carl Domino, Mark Freeman, Rick Kozell, Brian Mast, and Noelle Nikpour in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

Carly Fiorina has endorsed Francis Rooney in Florida’s 19th Congressional District.

The former Republican presidential hopeful and Hewlett-Packard CEO called Rooney a “true conservative who is committed to disrupting the political culture in Washington and fighting for the issues that matter most.”

“This is an important time in our nation’s history, and we need a leader like Francis who has the courage to stand up for conservative principles and combat the out-of-control spending of the current administration,” said Fiorina in a statement. “As a successful executive, Francis has the skills we need to help change the direction of this country.”

Rooney faces Dan Bongino and Chauncey Goss in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The Florida Right to Life P.A.C. has endorsed Lizbeth Benacquisto in Senate District 27.

In an endorsement letter, J.G. Halisky, the chair of the group, said the endorsement “indicates that you are the best pro-life candidate in the race.”

The endorsements and ratings are being published on the Florida Right to Life website, and have been sent to the organization’s chapters. The organization will also be recommending its supporters vote for Benacquisto.

Benacquisto faces Jason Maughan in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The Florida Realtors® Political Advocacy Committee has endorsed Matt Hudson in Senate District 28.

“We need a Legislature that focuses on making Florida a fair regulatory and low tax state that helps create and maintain a vibrant state economy and strong real estate market,” said Bill Furst, chair of the Florida Realtors® PAC Trustees. “The goal of the Realtors® PAC is to support candidates who promote policies that encourage homeownership and preserve the quality of life for our state.”

The political committee is the political arm of the Florida Realtors®.

“As a licensed real estate broker, I’ve seen firsthand the important role that the real estate industry plays in our Southwest community and all of Florida, as realtors help many in achieving their dream of homeownership, providing a roof to sleep under and a place to share a meal with family and friends,” said Hudson in a statement. “It’s vital that we foster a healthy economy and in turn a thriving real estate market, which I am committed to doing, in order to grow and maintain an affordable and prosperous state.”

Hudson faces Kathleen Passidomo in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has endorsed Wenda Lewis in House District 21.

“As Florida Chief Financial Officer, I appreciate business owners and the perspectives and conservative principles that they bring to Tallahassee,” said Atwater. “I trust Wenda Lewis, her business experience and her judgment to do what is best for her community and all of Florida.”

Lewis faces Chuck Clemons and Tim Rogers in House District 21.

“I am honored and humbled to receive the endorsement of Florida’s CFO, and I look forward to working with him and others to reduce government overreach and reduce regulations stifling business throughout Florida,” said Lewis. “I am running for office to fight for small and family owned business, and I honored to be endorsed by one of Florida’s top business leaders.”

The National Women’s Political Caucus of Florida has endorsed Beth Tuura in House District 47.

“The National Women’s Political Caucus of Florida is proud to endorse Beth Tuura in her State House candidacy,” said Christina Disbrow, the organization’s endorsement chairwoman. “Tuura has been a long-standing advocate for women’s rights and the Pro-Choice movements. The caucus knows that Ms. Tuura will fight for all Floridians to have equality and fairness in all aspects of their lives, and we are committed to helping her in whatever ways we can.”

Turra will face Clinton Curtis and Henry Lim in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

“Now more than ever, women need more representation in government,” said Turra. “I will fight for reproductive justice and ensure that we advance women’s rights in Florida.”

The Florida Retail Federation has endorsed Lange Sykes in House District 54.

“Lange Sykes is a retailer eager to help Florida’s businesses by making it easier for them to achieve success by reducing the burdensome regulations that hinder growth,” said Randy Miller, the president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “Businesses throughout Florida, and specifically in the Treasure Coast, should support Lange’s run for House District 54, and FRF is proud to support his candidacy.”

Sykes faces Dale Glading, Erin Grall, and Greg MacKay in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed MaryLynn Magar in House District 82.

“The Fraternal Order of Police have endorsed MaryLynn Magar and feel that she continues to be the best choice of candidate to serve the citizens of House District 82,” the organization said in its announcement. “We believe that her dedication to serving the community will inspire others to lead Florida in the right direction, and we look forward to working with her in Tallahassee.”

The Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police has been representing law enforcement officers in Florida for over 60 years. It currently serves over 20,000 members.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police,” said Magar. “The strong sense of duty and courage displayed by law enforcement officers often goes unrecognized, both by private citizens and government officials. I look forward to working with the FOP on issues that will strengthen law enforcement and increase public safety.”

Magar faces Democrat Mary W. Higgins in the November general election.

The National Organization for Women in Florida has endorsed Paulette V. Armstead in Florida House District 92.

“NOW seeks to achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life,” said Armstead in an email to supporters. “Whether it comes to abortion rights, sexual trafficking, or promoting equal pay between genders, NOW and myself will work together to address and overcome these challenges.”

Armstead told supporters it is important to “consider how the results of this election can affect us.”

Armstead faces Patricia Hawkins-Williams, Sajan Kurian, and Whitney Rawls in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

Mitch Perry Report for 7.27.16 – Bernie supporters aren’t all uniting yet

I think there are some specific reasons why Bernie Sanders aren’t ready to embrace Hillary Clinton like Clinton folks rallied around Barack Obama in 2008. I wasn’t at the Denver DNC, but no way was there the intense opposition to the nominee like there is the streets and in some parts of the convention hall this week as there was in ’08.

Part of it is generational. Many (but by no means most) of Bernie supporters are young and very idealistic. In some cases, they were disaffected progressives who may have already left the Democratic Party. They care – a lot, and they’re not ready yet to compromise. And in Hillary Clinton, they feel it’s simply too much of the same.

Clinton supporters in ’08 had already been around – and were more pragmatic about politics. Also in Barack Obama, there was such a powerful narrative to resist – and that resistance melted away.

You might have heard last night that hundreds of Bernie delegates left the convention hall to descend upon the media tent to complain about all types of things. One thing that they can’t complain about is the press not paying attention. I walked through that area, and there must have been dozens (?), maybe a hundred people being individually or group interviewed by members of the press.

The press does like this – there’s only so many stories you can write about a “united party,” right?

Having said that, the place was electric when Sanders took the mic to drop the rules and declare Hillary the nominee. Amazing moment.

In other news…

Bill Clinton got personal in recounting why he thinks Hillary Clinton is so special in his big speech at the DNC last night.

“Mothers of the Movement” had their moment before the nation at the DNC as well, earlier in the evening.

Bernie Sanders went classy when he announced the winning number of delegates for Hillary Clinton become the official nominee for the Democratic Party. Earlier in the day, his presence created a huge buzz at the Florida Delegation breakfast in Philadelphia.

Nancy Pelosi and Keith Ellison also made short visits to the breakfast yesterday. Ellison went off on Marco Rubio.

Tuesday was not a good day for Alan Grayson. Whether the allegations of domestic abuse towards his ex-wife are accurate or not, it’s a blow to the congressman’s U.S. Senate aspirations.

California Democratic Representative John Garamendi looks forward to working more with Kathy Castor in ending the U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba.

Before Trump’s RNC speech, Marco Rubio feels the love in Tampa

Marco Rubio concluded his statewide tour of Florida on Friday by appearing at Port Tampa Bay in Tampa.

He actually began his Tampa experience on Thursday night, where he made a pop-up appearance at 81 Bay Brewing Company, a cavernous craft brewery off of Gandy Boulevard in South Tampa that the Hillsborough County Republican Party had taken over for an RNC convention watch party.

A host of candidates running for office in Hillsborough County were invited to speak, though the acoustics were horrible, and some speakers – like CD 14 aspirant Christine Quinn – challenged the audience to quiet down.

Shortly after 7:30 p.m., however, everything changed: that’s when Rubio entered the room. The Florida Senator only walked a few feet inside the building before he was swarmed by well wishers, all of whom wanted to take selfies with him.

While Rubio was posing for photos, I asked him if he approved of what Ted Cruz had done the night before in Cleveland. The Texas Senator engendered boos in the hall by not endorsing Trump in his speech, whereas Rubio had sent in a one-minute video giving his support to the GOP nominee.

“I wouldn’t have done that -” he said, before being cut off by another supporter. “We have two choices, Hillary Clinton and Donald Tump, and I’m never going to support anything she does.”

He added that “the best thing I can do for the Republican party is to keep the Senate in Republican hands. That’s why I’m staying in Florida, I’m trying to win.”

Although mocked by Democrats and some journalists for his flip-flopping decision to run for reelection after declaring throughout 2015 that he would not do so, Rubio seems to have not suffered that much back on the campaign trail. He has a huge lead over his only major GOP Senate opponent, Carlos Beruff, and has led in every poll against his two potential Democratic opponents this fall, Florida Congressmen Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson.

After posing for photos for another ten minutes or so, he took to the stage, where he gave a three-and-half-minute speech.

“The time for fighting against each other is over!” he shouted as the crowd, in part buzzed perhaps by the beer, slowly began to quiet. “It’s time to come together and win in November, because if we don’t win in November, then someone who is unqualified and disqualified will become commander in chief.”

Observing the other candidates in the audience, like Dana Young running for the state Senate District 18 seat, and Jackie Toledo in House District 60, Rubio said the crowd had to make sure to get out and support the entire GOP ticket on the ballot this fall.

“I will work side by side with everyone else on the ballot so in November we can win the White House, we can keep the Senate, we can keep the House and Senate in Tallahassee, we can keep our conservatives in local government, and we can turn this country around!”

There was more posing for selfies. He then engaged the press, taking a question in English and one in Spanish. Before he bolted, I asked him what he thought about Trump’s controversial comments in the New York Times regarding the NATO alliance. Trump said that if Russia attacked a NATO nation, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have “fulfilled their obligations to us.”

“Well, I disagree with him on that,” he replied. “I obviously want to see our NATO allies contribute more, but that’s been a longstanding problem. But we can’t put the NATO alliance in doubt.I disagree with him on that. I hope he’ll change his mind. If he pursues that, as a senator I’ll oppose it. I don’t think that’s the right approach on that issue. But I think Hillary’s a disaster.I think she’s worse. I think Hillary Clinton has been a part of the most disastrous foreign policy presidency we’ve seen in a long time under Barack Obama.”

And with that he was off.

Rubio’s appearance in Tampa, a rare one in the entire five-and-a-half years since he was elected, was noted by both the Murphy and Beruff campaigns.

Marco Rubio barely acknowledged Tampa during his six years in the Senate and when it came time to fight for Tampa families on skyrocketing flood insurance rates, he abandoned them almost entirely,” said Murphy Campaign Spokeswoman Galia Slayen. “Tampa doesn’t need Marco Rubio showing up now to pander for votes. They need a Senator who shows up when it matters and cares enough to fight for them every day.”

“Considering how rarely he’s been in the Tampa Bay region over the last six years, he probably had to allow extra time in case he got lost going to the airport,” said Beruff campaign spokesman Chris Hartline. “An election-year epiphany won’t distract voters from the fact that Marco Rubio has ignored most of the state and ignored his duties as senator for the last six years.”

Mark Kelly joins Patrick Murphy in attacking Marco Rubio voting record on gun issues

U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy has received the endorsement of Americans for Responsible Solutions, the super PAC led by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly.

“We really strongly believe that Congressman Murphy is the best person in this race to fight for the responsible steps that we need to help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” Kelly said in a conference call organized by the Murphy campaign on Wednesday.”He’s the guy we need to help prevent gun tragedies, and he is the candidate that will help make Florida comunities safer from gun violence.”

Americans for Responsible Solutions was created just months after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013, and two years after Giffords was nearly killed after being shot at a town hall meeting in Tucson, Arizona.

Murphy said he was humbled by the endorsement.

“We know that the majority of Americans and the majority of Floridians favor reasonable measures to keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent gun violence,” he said.”But we’re sorely lacking leadership in Congress to get commonsense proposals like closing background check loopholes and closing the terror gap across the finish line. In the U.S. Senate, I will always stand with Gabby and Mark in the fight to make Florida families and children safer from gun violence.”

Although Murphy is still very much locked in a competitive primary election against fellow Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, he wasn’t mentioned in the call. But GOP Senator Marco Rubio definitely was.

Referring to his visit to Orlando on Tuesday as part of a statewide campaign tour he’s on this week, Murphy blasted Rubio for failing to meet with the families of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting last month, where 49 people were killed and dozens more injured.

“Senator Rubio held a closed door meeting,” Murphy said. “He refused to talk to the many Floridians who made their voices heard outside this private event. He went so far as to call these constituents ‘petty protestors.’ That to me is insulting, to admonish citizens who are expressing his record of consistently opposing gun prevention measures, and instead of listening to these cries of Floridians who have been deeply impacted by this gun violence, Senator Rubio played the blame game.”

According to an account in the Orlando Sentinel, Rubio was confronted by approximately 30 protestors at an appearance near the Pulse nightclub shooting scene.  He said he was trying to help coordinate aid for Pulse shooting victims and their families from various federal agencies, including the FBI’s victim fund.

Kelly criticized Rubio’s voting record on guns on the conference call.

“Marco Rubio has voted repeatedly to protect the loopholes that let felons and domestic abusers and even terror suspects get guns without a background check,” he said. “He did so after the tragedy at the Sandy Hook elementary school and he did it again after the tragedy Orlando.”

Last month, the U.S. Senate voted on and rejected four different gun control measures, two sponsored by Republicans, two sponsored by Democrats. Rubio and Senator Bill Nelson voted along party lines on those votes, and the Florida Republican called the Democrat proposals “politically-motivated and driven by a larger ideological agenda to disarm Americans.”

“After lying about his own resume and getting caught delaying needed aid to Floridians for his own publicity, now he’s spreading even more lies,” responded Michael Ahrens, a spokesman for the Rubio campaign. “Marco has a strong record of fighting to keep Florida’s families safe.”

Left unclear at the conclusion of the conference call was whether Americans for Responsible Solutions will be supporting Murphy financially or by putting up a campaign advertisement backing candidacy. Kelly said that as a 501(c)(4) and a super PAC, there are certain rules about independent expenditures that must be adhered to.

“I can’t really tell you because I don’t know, and I wouldn’t be involved because we have legally have set up a firewall between the folks who have been coordinating with Congressman Murphy’s office, and an I.E. (independent expenditure) if we chose to do that,” Kelly said.

President Obama tapes television ad for Patrick Murphy’s U.S. Senate campaign

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy will begin airing his first Senate campaign television ad, a 30-second spot featuring President Barack Obama.

The ad will begin airing statewide on Wednesday, and it features the president speaking directly to the camera.

Obama says Murphy is a strong progressive who stands up to the gun lobby and supports social security and protecting women’s right to an abortion.

Obama also acknowledges Murphy is targeted by opponents and tells viewers not to believe the negative attacks.

He ends the ad by saying, “I count on Patrick Murphy. You can too.”

“I am humbled and honored that President Obama is proudly supporting our campaign to fight for Florida families,” said Murphy. “The President knows that Florida needs a leader in the Senate who shows up for work and fights for our shared priorities, like protecting Social Security and Medicare, fighting for a woman’s right to choose, and standing up to the gun lobby to reduce gun violence.”

Murphy is facing U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in the Democratic primary Aug. 30. The winner will either take on Republican Sen. Marco Rubio or developer Carlos Beruff.

Senate Majority PAC airs ad highlighting President Obama’s endorsement of Patrick Murphy

After several weeks of GOP flavored super PACS bashing Patrick Murphy have dominated local cable stations in Florida, a super PAC who supports the Jupiter Democrat in his race for Senate has a new ad on the air.

The ad comes courtesy of the Senate Majority PAC, which on Tuesday released a new ad today released that highlights President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s endorsement of Murphy, a two-term Congressman from Florida’s Treasure Coast who is competing for the Senate nomination against Congressman Alan Grayson. The ad notes that Murphy has a fought to strengthen Social Security and Medicare, protect a woman’s right to choose, and against Tea Party obstructionism in Washington.

Critics note that in fact Murphy said on several occasions after being elected to Congress in 2012 that “we’re going to have to look at some structural changes to some programs like Social Security and Medicare.” He has refrained from such comments as a Democratic candidate for Senate.

“Marco Rubio and his allies are not telling the truth about Patrick Murphy and we aren’t going to let their attacks go unanswered,” said Shripal Shah, spokesman for Senate Majority PAC.  “As President Obama and Vice President Biden noted in their endorsement, Patrick Murphy will stand up for Florida’s middle-class; he has fought to protect Social Security and Medicare and a woman’s right to choose, and will stand up against Tea Party obstructionism in Washington. He’s clearly the best choice for Florida.”

Obama and Biden’s endorsement of Murphy earlier this year demonstrated on how much the Democratic Party establishment backs Murphy, the 33-year-old Representative who is centrist in his political leanings and more temperate in tone than the combative Grayson.

Nevertheless, though there hasn’t been any recent polling done, the two  Democrats are considered to be evenly matched up some six weeks before state Democrats will choose their standard bearer for the November election.

Meanwhile, the Marco Rubio campaign is weighing in. The GOP incumbent is the likely candidate who will face either Grayson or Murphy this November.

“It’s no surprise that Harry Reid’s Super PAC would ride to the rescue for their preferred candidate after he was caught lying about his resume and trying to delay needed aid to Floridians for his own publicity, said Rubio campaign spokesman Michael Ahrens.

You can watch the ad here:

Mitch Perry Report for 7.18.16 – Here’s the Trump-Pence ticket, America

Greetings, y’all.

My dateline is V.M. Ybor this morning in Tampa , not the Baymont Inn in Hudson, Ohio – some thirty minutes away from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, the site of this week’s Republican National Convention. Circumstances have dictated that I won’t be reporting from the RNC this week, but I certainly intend to observe from afar in this space all week about this week’s events.

It’s going to be entertaining, that’s for sure. Just look at the drama that took place over the weekend before the Trump campaign unveiled Mike Pence as their VP selection on Saturday morning.

I had a feeling on Thursday night when Trump said he was canceling his 11 a.m. Friday presser to introduce his VP that it was more than just being sensitive about (at the time) the latest tragedy in the world, the incident on Bastille Day in Nice. CNN’s Dana Bash reported on Friday that Trump was trying to get out of his selection of Pence midnight on Thursday, but Pence it is.

The two appeared on CBS’ 60 Minutes last night, and there were plenty of awkward moments. Pence is a pretty doctrinaire social conservative, as most of you know. Trump is, well, all over the place on so many issues.

Trump was asked by Leslie Stahl regarding his declaration of “going to war against ISIS.” What does that mean, she asked? Does that mean”boots on the ground”?

“I am going to have very few troops on the ground,” Trump specified. “We’re going to have unbelievable intelligence, which we need; which, right now, we don’t have. We don’t have the people over there. We are going to use–

Donald Trump: Excuse me– and we’re going to have surrounding states and, very importantly, get NATO involved because we support NATO far more than we should, frankly, because you have a lot of countries that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing. And we have to wipe out ISIS. And speaking of Turkey, Turkey is an ally. Turkey can do it by themselves. But they have to be incentivized. For whatever reason, they’re not. So we have no choice.

Lesley Stahl: But I still don’t know if you’re going to send troops over–

Donald Trump: Very little. I’m gonna–

Lesley Stahl: But declare war–

Donald Trump: –get neighboring states and I’m going to get– we are going to get NATO; we’re going to wipe ’em out. We’re gonna–

Lesley Stahl: But declare war?

Mike Pence: Lesley–

Lesley Stahl: What does that mean–

Pence then jumped in to state that, “This is– this is the kind– this is the kind of leadership that America needs and it begins with deciding to destroy the enemies of our freedom.”

Okay, so that’s good news for all of us who wants to see ISIS go away.

There were several other moments where it was, shall we say, a bit embarrassing if you think Pence is a standup, strong man in his own right.

PENCE: Clearly this man is not a politician. He doesn’t speak like a politician––

STAHL: He’s done pretty well.

PENCE: He speaks from his heart

TRUMP: Well, I––I speak from my heart and my brain. Just so we understand.

PENCE: Right.

TRUMP: This is [Trump points to his head] maybe more important.

Okay, so it wasn’t as good as Trump’s line during his press conference on Saturday in NYC that Pence’s endorsement of Ted Cruz over himself in the Indiana primary was the greatest non-endorsement of his life.

“He talked about Trump, then he talked about Ted, who’s a good guy by the way, who is going to be speaking at the convention,” Trump said. “Ted Cruz, good guy. But talked about Trump, Ted, then he went back to Trump. I said, who did he endorse?” Trump said Saturday. “It was the single greatest-non endorsement I’ve ever had in my life, I will tell you.”

This week is going to be something, that’s for darned sure.

]In other news..

A day before another shooting of police officers in America – Alan Grayson addressed a Black Lives Matter protest in Ybor City in Tampa.

And learn a little more about the candidates running for House District 70, which encompasses parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

In Tampa, Alan Grayson addresses a Black Lives Matter protest

Alan Grayson made an appearance at a Black Lives Matter rally in Ybor City’s Centennial Park on Saturday afternoon before approximately 75 people.

With plenty of law enforcement standing sentry, the Orlando congressman and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate addressed the multiracial crowd by citing the names of a few of the black men who have been killed by law enforcement officers recently, such as Alton Sterling and Philander Castile.

“These are young people who gave their lives, for no good reason. And now it’s for us the living, the ones still here to make sure that they did not die in vain,” he said.

He also mentioned Andrew Joseph III, the 14-year-old black youth who was ejected from the Florida State Fair by Hillsborough County Sheriff Deputies on Student Day in 2014 and died trying to cross Interstate 4.

“The police stole 50 years of his life,” Grayson said. “And stole him from his loving parents, and ended his life prematurely.”

Last fall, Grayson met with Andrew Joseph Jr. and his wife Deanna, the parents of Andrew Joseph III, in Tampa last September, and said he would contact Attorney General Loretta Lynch and call on the federal government to investigate the case, claiming that he died because of the negligence of the Sheriffs Department. In February, the Department of Justice informed him that the actions of the department “were not sufficient” to establish a willful federal criminal civil rights violation.” Earlier this year, the parents of Joseph filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida State Fair Authority and the Hillsborough County School District.

Grayson said at the rally that he will introduce legislation that will provide federal funds only to cities that have independent police civilian review boards. Most cities have such a board, but there has been criticism that many of them are ineffective and don’t have enough power to penalize wrongdoing by law officers.

“It’s always possible that these boards might be captured,” Grayson admitted, saying that’s exactly what has happened with the Florida Ethics Commission, which he called “a creature” of Governor Rick Scott. “You have to never let up,” he said. “The fact is, there’s little chance for justice when the people who are perhaps guilty of the crimes or perhaps judging them.”

While speaking with reporters after his brief set of comments, Grayson was confronted by two people who had an issue with him.

One was a citizen who attended the Hillsborough County Black Democratic Caucus meeting of political candidates at the Beulah Baptist Institutional Church in Tampa earlier in the day. The organizer of the event, Robin Lockett, admonished Grayson for failing to appear, saying that she had rearranged the schedule of his appearance, only to be called late on Friday night that he would not be attending.

“What happened was I got in at one o’clock in the morning last night after a long delayed flight and I got into Orlando, and it was physically impossible to be there,” he said.

Then Pam Keith, another Democrat running in the U.S. Senate contest, confronted Grayson about his remarks at the BLM protest, before ultimately claiming that he was simply grandstanding.

“I think that people in the community were really concerned about getting beyond about pointing about what’s wrong,” Keith said directly to Grayson. “Simply stating the names of people who have been killed is not enough anymore. We’ve got to figure out how to prevent these shootings in the first place.” As she began reciting her potential solutions to the crisis, Grayson and his aides wandered away, as she then began addressing reporters.

“Using an opportunity to grandstand? We’ve seen that over and over again,” she said while he was out of earshot. Keith then segued into criticizing Grayson for being “complicit” in ensuring that the public wasn’t aware of her candidacy. “He’ll tell you how Patrick Murphy won’t debate him, but will he tell you that he won’t debate me?” she said (However, WMFE public radio news director Catherine Welch says that Keith will debate Grayson in a radio debate on August 3).

Murphy has been reluctant to engage in debates set up by organizers from several Florida public radio stations and Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay and News 13 in Orlando.  When asked if he was getting frustrated with Murphy’s apparent reluctance to debate, Grayson simply insulted his chief opponent in the contest.

“He’s become such a liar and a fool and a clown, that the Democratic Party has ordered him to keep his mouth shut,” he replied.

Mitch Perry Report for 7.14.16 – Patrick Murphy on defense, again

Political maxim #459 is “if you’re explaining, you’re losing.”

Let’s go to Patrick Murphy and his campaign for senate, shall we?

The Murphy camp is furiously shooting down a report by Alex Leary in the Tampa Bay Times published last night that said that his congressional office sought to delay news about relief for businesses affected by the toxic algae crisis so he could announce it at a news conference today.

Leary reported that an exchange of emails between Murphy’s office and the Small Business Administration “gives the impression Murphy wanted to take credit for the relief.”

Murphy’s office is denying the report, with a spokesman saying, “Of course our office did not request for this program to be delayed. Anyone who reads the original email can see that we did not. The official emails that Republicans are distributing to press intentionally leave out the Small Business Administration’s email to our office on Monday morning, which suggests no impending announcement.”

Murphy’s senate opponents pounced on the Leary report anyway, as you might imagine.

“Putting his own political fortunes in front of the needs of legitimate small business owners is stunningly shameless,” said Alan Grayson Senate campaign spokesman Michael Ceraso. “It’s also an abuse of his official power that needs to be immediately investigated.”

“Patrick Murphy should take full responsibility for this attempt to delay funds, resign his office immediately, and be fully investigated by the U.S. House Committee on Ethics for any other abuses of power,” said GOP Senate candidate Carlos Beruff. “These are the kind of Washington games that Floridians are sick of, and why the voters will clean house in Washington.”

This is another bad story in a series of bad weeks for Murphy and his chances of capturing the U.S. Senate this year.

Although his campaign team has forcefully refuted the allegations made by CBS 4 Miami reporter Jim DeFede that he exaggerated his resume and business experience in a two-part series last month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running ads every day on cable news in Florida repeating those allegations, using material directly out of those reports.

And then there’s Marco Rubio. The Florida Republican’s decision to come back and run for re-election is proving to be a nightmare for the entire Democratic Party, as the hopes of taking the seat away from the Republicans seems to be slipping away everyday. A new Quinnipiac Poll released this morning shows Rubio leading both Murphy and Grayson by double digits.

Can the Jupiter Representative right his ship? It ain’t looking great at this point.

In other news..

Charlie Crist got an earful from some of his potential constituents, but he wanted in on Wednesday, asking 20 local small business men and women to tell their their issues and complaints that he says he hopes to address if elected to Congress this fall.

Polk County Republican Congressman Dennis Ross is calling for AG Loretta Lynch’s head, saying she needs to go for after watching her decline to explain the DOJ’s legal basis for not indicting Hillary Clinton for her email mess at the State Dept.

Darryl Rouson and Ed Narain had the most concrete plans in Tuesday night’s NAACP-sponsored Senate District 19 debate.

John Bolton’s super PAC (and his mustache) is contributing funds to Marco Rubio and Ron DeSantis’ reelection campaigns.

 

Equality PAC is backing Patrick Murphy in U.S. Senate race

Equality PAC, the political action committee aimed at supporting candidates running for federal office who are LGBT or seek to advance LGBT rights, is backing Jupiter Representative Patrick Murphy in the Florida Senate race.

“I am humbled to receive the Equality PAC’s endorsement and I am grateful for the important work they do to advance LGBT rights,” said Murphy in a statement. “Over the past few years, we have celebrated monumental victories for the LGBT community, but we have also mourned incredible loss. After the tragic attack on the LGBT community in Orlando, it is important that we renew our commitment to LGBT equality by passing the Equality Act, preventing hate crimes, and ending the outdated ban on gay blood donations. In the U.S. Senate, I will always stand firmly with the LGBT community on the right side of history.”

The political action committee was created earlier this yer by Colorado Democratic Representative Jared Polis and California Representative Mark Takano, who said that Murphy has been a “visionary leader on LGBT equality in the House.”

“We need more allies who have not just unending passion for LGBT right, but also think strategically and smartly about how to make the dream of equality a reality,” Takano said in a statement. “Patrick’s leadership in the wake of the Pulse shooting and his work as a member of the LGBT Caucus’ LGBT Aging Issues Task Force are just two examples of how he ‘gets it.’ He gets how to support our community when we’ve been attacked and how the fight for equality didn’t end with marriage, but continues on supporting LGBT populations.”

Murphy is running for the Democratic nomination for Senate in the Aug. 30 primary against Congressman Alan Grayson and former JAG Navy officer Pam Keith.

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