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Patrick Murphy accuses Marco Rubio of ‘cowardice’ for not standing up to Donald Trump

Marco Rubio issued a tweet Friday night condemning Donald Trump for his sexually lewd comments that surfaced from a 2005 video, but that’s not good enough for Patrick Murphy, his Democratic opponent in next month’s U.S. Senate race in Florida.

“Florida women and families deserve better than a tweet,” Murphy said on a conference call Monday morning. “We’ve seen Marco Rubio play this game before, through the months of Donald Trump demonizing immigrants and Muslims, attacking a Gold Star family, or lodging racist or misogynist attacks, Marco Rubio has stood by him. Rubio offers up meaningless rhetoric when he has to, and can stay completely silent when he can get away with it — and that’s not leadership, that’s cowardice.”

When Rubio announced in June that he would be running for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat after saying for months that he would never do so, he said that he could serve as a check on whomever the next president could be — either Trump or Hillary Clinton. But Murphy said Monday that Rubio isn’t even holding Trump accountable after his crude remarks were made public Friday.

“It’s Marco Rubio’s silence that is once again proving that no matter what the issue, whether it’s letting down our Hispanic communites on immigration reform, whether it’s abandoning Floridians to run for president, or running for a job that he says he hates, Marco Rubio will always put his political ambitions above the best interests of  Florida’s families.”

Joining Murphy on the call was Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, which has endorsed him in his race against Rubio. She called Trump’s rhetoric and policies “appalling,” and said that Rubio “stands with him every step of the way.”

Rubio says he would ban abortion even for women who got pregnant through rape or incest, a stance Richards calls “one of the most extreme positions of anyone in elected office.”

Rubio’s one comment on the matter on Friday was, “Donald’s comments were vulgar, egregious, and impossible to justify. No one should ever talk about any woman in those terms, even in private.”

Murphy isn’t the only Democrat in Florida running for office next month attempting to put his Republican opponent on the defensive. In the Tampa Bay area, Democratic candidates running against Republicans in competitive legislative races went after their opponents to renounce Trump as well.

Although nearly every poll taken in the Senate race has shown Rubio leading Murphy in the race, he did get some positive news Sunday when an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed him trailing the GOP incumbent by just two percentage points, 48  percent to 46 percent.

While Rubio and outside groups continue to air negative commercials against Murphy, the Jupiter representative isn’t getting the same backing from Democratic oriented third-party groups. Last week it was reported the Senate Majority Pac was pulling $6 million it had planned to spend on his campaign. Murphy says that doesn’t matter.

“I obviously can’t control what these outside groups do,” he said, repeating that he knew he would be outspent like he was when running against Allen West in his first bid for Congress in 2012. “The fact that they are continuing to spend that type of money while we are in a dead heat before these Trump comments show how serious of a race this is,” he said, adding that he’s confident that he’ll win the race.

Ousted from DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz fighting to stay in House

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz easily won her South Florida district six times, but a Democratic primary challenge from a Bernie Sanders-backed law professor is making her seventh bid less than a sure bet — and her recent resignation as Democratic National Committee chairwoman hasn’t helped.

Tim Canova has raised about $2.8 million thanks to the former presidential candidate’s endorsement, an almost unheard of amount for a first-time candidate and almost as much as Wasserman Schultz’s $3 million. He is running an aggressive campaign, accusing Wasserman Schultz of being a pawn of Wall Street who backs corporate donors over progressive causes. The primary is Aug. 30.

“Wasserman Schultz is like a lot of politicians who live in their own little bubble. They are not out and around the people and I have been,” said Canova, 56, who teaches business law at Nova Southeastern University.

Wasserman Schultz, 49, re-emerged in public Thursday, six days after the Democratic National Convention and her forced resignation as national party chair following a leaked email scandal. She immediately went on the counterattack, saying Canova is using “disingenuous half-truths, lies and distortions” to attack her record. She received loud applause Thursday night at a forum on healing the rift between the police and black community that was held at a predominantly African-American megachurch.

“I have a deep and proud commitment to our community,” she said, listing Social Security, the Affordable Care Act and recovery programs that eased the 2008 financial crisis as examples of progressive policies she helped pass. “My opponent can say whatever he wants, but the people I represent … know better.” She also has the support of Vice President Joe Biden, who will campaign on her behalf at a closed fundraiser Friday evening.

In Wasserman Schultz’s previous elections, she never drew a primary opponent in her suburban Fort Lauderdale district or a serious Republican challenge. In general elections, she received at least 60 percent of the vote in a 2-to-1 Democratic district that stretches from the ocean to the Everglades and includes high-rise beachfront hotels and condos, golf resorts and luxury malls and a mix of poor, middle-class, retiree and well-heeled communities.

Wasserman Schultz has been perceived as such a powerhouse — and the district so uncompetitive — that former U.S. Rep. Allen West, a tough-talking favorite of conservative Republicans and one of her fiercest critics, ran legally in a neighboring district even though he lived in hers to avoid near-certain defeat. The district favored Clinton over Sanders by a 68 to 31 percent margin in the March presidential primary.

“I’ve known Debbie for 25 years and she has always been very, very supportive of the district and environmental matters, which is important to me,” said supporter Lily Sayre, who owns a horse stable in Southwest Ranches, a semirural enclave in the district. “I’ve always known her to be forthright and standing by what she believes, whether it helps her politically or not.”

The email leaks that cost Wasserman Schultz her DNC post are motivating Canova’s backers, who say they prove what they long believed: that Wasserman Schultz threw aside fairness and neutrality to weaken Sanders’ chances of defeating Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

“My family fought in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War and World War I and World War II, including my father. Some of them lost their lives. No one steals my right to a free vote,” said makeup artist Ellen Kinnally, a Sanders supporter who said she moved into the district specifically to vote for Canova.

Wasserman Schultz denies showing favoritism in the presidential race, saying she strictly followed party rules.

The leaked emails show that DNC staffers closely tracked their boss’s race. They monitored media coverage and tried to get details of a speech Canova gave by internet to an Alaska progressive group while she spoke at that state’s Democratic convention. They circulated a campaign news release about Canova getting Sander’s endorsement — Wasserman Schultz ordered Canova’s name stricken from its headline.

Canova said he began considering a challenge last year when he organized opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and Wasserman Schultz and her congressional staff never agreed to a meeting. She became the only Democrat in Florida’s House delegation who voted to fast-track the pact’s approval, which had been opposed by labor unions, environmental groups and other liberal constituencies as well as some tea party groups on the Republican side.

“She has been taking millions of dollars from the biggest Wall Street banks and corporations and I started looking at her voting record and it is lined up with these corporate interests,” he said.

Wasserman Schultz said her staff met with Canova and his group in her district office last year and had their concerns heard.

“Unfortunately, that’s been what my opponent has engaged in this entire campaign,” she said.

The winner of the Wasserman Schultz-Canova race will likely face Republican Joe Kaufman in November. He lost to Wasserman Schultz by a 63 to 37 percent margin in 2014.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Patrick Murphy picks up Florida carpenters’ union endorsement

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy picked up more labor support on Monday in his quest to out-maneuver liberal challenger U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in the Democratic primary for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters Florida Regional Council  endorsed Murphy’s bid for the seat left vacant by Marco Rubio. It’s betting on the Palm Beach congressman’s moderate approach to the issues and less combative personal style compared to Grayson, a natural ally of labor, according to many observers.

The union’s political director, Tim Mitcheltree, said Murphy is labor’s best bet when it comes to watching out for the middle class.

“Spend just five minutes with Patrick Murphy and you know what his top priorities are – making sure that Florida’s middle class and America’s middle class grow and succeed in the 21st century,”  Mitcheltree said. “Time and again, Patrick has proven that he will stand up for hardworking middle-class families, and we are excited to support him.”

Murphy has picked up a good deal of traditionally left-leaning union support in recent days.

The Jupiter congressman – first elected in a 2012 shootout against controversial conservative Iraq War veteran Allen West – has scooped up endorsements from AFSCME, Florida’s branch of the notorious Teamsters Union, and LIUNA, as well as the state’s largest machinists and ironworkers guilds.

“Floridians are ready for new leadership that is laser-focused on strengthening our middle class and protecting workers. In the U.S. Senate, I will continue fighting every day for hardworking Florida families,” Murphy said in accepting the endorsement.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also took the unusual step of endorsing in a Democratic primary last month, coming out for Murphy in a race he has said is largely defined by differences of tone and style rather than policy positions.

The Grayson campaign, for its part, circulated a story over the weekend claiming the party establishment has “gone mad” amid a 2016 cycle that has featured Democratic backbiting against the likes of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and other left-leaning Dems.

In CD 18 race, Jonathan Chane (mistakenly) casts first stone against Randy Perkins

Political newcomer and multimillionaire businessman Randy Perkins’ entrance into the campaign to succeed Rep. Patrick Murphy has shaken up the dynamics of that race since his November announcement.

First, perceived Democratic front-runner Melissa McKinlay, ended her own bid for the 18th District within weeks of Perkins launching his, citing his ability to self-finance and her desire to continue serving full-time as a member of the Palm Beach County Commission. Then broke the story that Perkins transferred a million dollars into his campaign account in early December. That was followed by the announcement last week that in addition to his personal donation, Perkins raised over $420,000 for the campaign in a four-week sprint, a fundraising total that most incumbents would be hard pressed to hit.

Perkins seems to be Democrats’ best chance of holding this competitive seat, which Murphy took from Allen West by a hair in 2012 and then held in 2014 by a landslide. A seemingly endless array of Republicans are chomping at the bit to run, including the wife of incoming Florida Senate President Joe Negron, Rebecca Negron, and former House member Carl Domino, who partially self-financed his own losing bid against Murphy in 2014.

But in the grand tradition of Florida Democrats biting their nose to spite their face, lawyer Jonathan Chane has been running a grossly negative whisper campaign against Perkins among Democratic activists and donors in the district, previewing the mud he intends to sling at his fellow Democrat in the primary.

Chane welcomed Perkins to the race with an email ominously titled, “outside forces,” that falsely claimed Perkins “switched parties” before entering the race. (Perkins was an NPA until recently, so he had no party from which to switch.) His initial missive went on to attack Perkins for past political contributions to Republicans (which Patrick Murphy was likewise guilty of when he first ran for that seat) while ignoring the fact that Perkins and his company, AshBritt, have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and causes over the years.

A quick search of both and reveal that Chane has given a whopping total of zero dollars to Democratic candidates and causes.

Now, insiders in the district are buzzing that Chane has been making the rounds to local DECs and political types spewing rumors and vitriol in private settings while maintaining the veneer of a positive campaign in public. These same insiders are grousing that Chane is playing with a double-edged sword by doing so, as his own professional record is far from a paragon of Democratic values.

Chane has been a corporate defense attorney in Palm Beach for years. During the height of the national mortgage crisis that drove millions of Americans out of their homes through foreclosure, Jonathan Chane represented banks and lenders on nearly 40 separate occasions in foreclosure cases in Palm Beach County Court. Not something that squares too well with his claim to be running for Congress because, “the economic recovery is still leaving many … middle-class families behind.”

The list of banks, lenders and financial services companies that Chane represented reads like a rogues gallery of the most prolific and egregious foreclosers and recipients of government bailouts during the housing crisis: Aurora Loan, Bank of America, Bank of New York, Chase Home Finance, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, Lasalle Bank, One West Bank, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo Bank, and Wilmington Trust.

Between 2007 and 2013 (a period in which approximately four million American homes were foreclosed on), Chane represented a foreclosing financial institution 37 times in Palm Beach County courts. The full list of his representations can be found here. is the first to report on Chane’s history as a profligate foreclosure lawyer, but you can bet that we won’t be the last. At some point, one of the families that Jonathan Chane is directly responsible for evicting from their home is going to realize he now wants to represent them in congress, and it’s not going to be pretty for his already underdog campaign.

Chane might want to remember the Biblical imperative that it should be those without sin who cast the first stone, especially when you’re casting stones at someone with a virtually unlimited capacity to cast them back tenfold in your direction.

Randy Perkins garners $1.35 million in first month for congressional bid

Democrat Randy Perkins took in a massive $1.35 million dollar haul during his first active month of running for Congress, his campaign announced Monday.

The independently wealthy political novice raised some $425,000 from donors, as well as chipping in $1 million of his own money during the fourth fundraising quarter of 2015.

Perkins is seeking to succeed U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is vacating the seat to pursue the open Senate seat currently held by Sen. Marco Rubio. 

The Perkins campaign touted the eye-popping numbers in a news release Monday afternoon.

“I have been overwhelmed by the support for this campaign,” said Perkins in a statement. “Folks are excited about the issues that we want to fight for in Washington, including educational and training programs to ensure the resident of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast have the same opportunities for success I had as a young man, reforming our broken mental health system, and keeping the promises we’ve made to senior and veterans.”

“This is a clear demonstration of the excitement around Randy’s campaign and the unique experience he will bring to Congress. Randy has a true American success story that will resonate with the voters of Florida’s 18th district,” said Isaiah Nelson, campaign manager for Perkins’ self-recruited bid.

Perkins’ entry was a bombshell along the Treasure Coast, where nearly a dozen entrants had already lined up to take over the slightly Republican-tilting 18th Congressional District.

Murphy has held the moderate seat since its creation. The first-time candidate came to office by way of defeating notorious Republican former U.S. Rep. Allen West, who had switched districts to avoid Murphy.

Perkins is hoping to replicate Murphy’s unusual ascension. Since he jumped in late last year, momentum and fundraising for other candidates, particularly Democrats have flagged. Palm Beach Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, for instance, dropped out soon after Perkins’ entry.

Republicans Carl Domino and Mark Freeman, however, have also said they are willing to pledge $1 million or more of their personal funds to assume the reins in CD 18.

To date, nearly a dozen candidates have either filed to run for the seat or declared their intentions to do so.

Perkins is the founder of AshBritt, a salvage and disaster recovery company that came to prominence after Hurricane Andrew. It was later contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and became one of the largest firms of its type in the nation.

Patrick Murphy heralds new reservoir for ailing Indian River Lagoon

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy joined officials with the Army Corps of Engineers to hail the start of construction on a major project to build a new 3,400-acre reservoir to help relieve pressure on the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River.

Murphy attended a ceremony in Stuart Friday morning, where federal, state and local officials broke ground on the C-44 Reservoir, part of a larger Stormwater Treatment Area project.

The project will ultimately yield a reservoir capable of holding and treating 16 billion gallons of stormwater that would otherwise end up in the lagoon, the St. Lucie River, and other downstream estuaries beset by algal blooms and other environmental woes caused by agricultural runoff and rising sea levels.

“Continued progress to improve water quality throughout the entire system can only be achieved through collaboration across all agencies, levels of government, and the community,” said Murphy in a statement Friday. “So while today’s groundbreaking of this vital reservoir is a major milestone, we also know that our work is not done in the fight to protect our waterways.”

“Together, we will see the C-44 Indian River Lagoon South project and other vital Everglades restoration efforts come to completion, providing the relief our local waterways so desperately need after being inundated by toxic discharges for decades,” said Murphy.

Support for the environment and social welfare programs, particularly Medicare and Social Security, have been key in shoring up Democratic support for the coastal moderate throughout his career.

An announcement from Murphy’s office contains a laundry list of moves Murphy has made to bolster federal efforts in the ecologically-sensitive Indian River Lagoon region, including voting stewarding budget amendments and successfully calling upon the executive branch for support.

The move comes a day after Murphy joined U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham in voting to support the so-called SAFE Act of 2015, which would halt the processing of all foreign refugees until new vetting measure are approved. The pair were the only two Florida Democrats to vote for the bill, which President Barack Obama has promised to veto.

Murphy ascended to the House by defeating Republican Congressman Allen West in 2012. He easily defeated former state lawmaker Carl Domino to retain the seat in a conservative-leaning midterm cycle last year.

Allen West: Charlie Sheen’s HIV is attracting ISIS militants

Allen West is poking fun of Charlie Sheen’s HIV positive status writing that it “may help ISIS recruitment.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Mr. Right Wing politician-turned pundit blowhard thinks a dude contracting a terrible illness is reason for more radical extremists to hop on over to the Islamic State.

“He has spent millions on drugs and prostitutes – and hush money to keep this news private, but today decided to share it with the entire world,” West wrote on his blog.

Indeed, Sheen isn’t exactly up for humanitarian of the year award and he’s not exactly roll model material considering his sexist rant against his ex-wife that rocked Twitter and his now mounting list of women planning to sue him for not letting them know he was HIV positive.

But if anyone out there is thinking, gosh, that womanizing druggie is a good reason for me to go blow sh*t up, they were probably already headed in that direction.

What Sheen may be more likely attracting is a Westboro Baptist protest condemning Sheen because, “God hates fags” and, thus, HIV.

But West didn’t just stop at his anti-Sheen rant. He used the Tuesday announcement on the “Today” show to launch an all-out attack on pesky liberals.

“In the last few months, we’ve been bombarded with symptoms of our rampant, debauched, cultural decline in the West,” West wrote.

Fair enough. We’ve got 6-year-olds being shot to death by cops, people beating grandmas and grandpas to death. We live in a world where school shootings are a near everyday occurrence. That’s certainly a cultural decline if ever there was one.

But sadly, that’s not the decline West was referring to.

He went on to condemn “Bruce Jenner” (not Caitlin) for “being celebrated with awards and magazine covers because he paid for a bunch of surgery, took a bunch of hormones and shaved his legs.”

He launched an attack on college students for “whining about free tuition” and, God forbid, hoping to have a safe campus free from overt racism.

Then there are those pesky know-nothing Democrats running for president and claiming, as West puts it, “that the biggest threat facing our lives is WEATHER (emphasis his.)”

“No WONDER (emphasis still his) the Islamists of ISIS laugh at us. No wonder they call us infidels in our land of “prostitution and vice.” No wonder they believe they can easily defeat us,” West continued.

File this in the #NotTheOnion Category. Dude is serious. Liberal college kids and climate change are serving as recruitment tools for ISIS.

In his blog rant, West even goes so far as to question whether or not all this liberal silliness is why “over half of the states in this nation have said no to accepting Syrian refugees.

If West really believes HIV positive womanizers, hippie college kids, climate change and gun control are cause for religious extremism and terrorism perhaps the government should run some of the extensive background checks required of Syrian refugees on him.

Patrick Murphy tells Hillsborough County Democrats “The Senate is full of Allen Wests”

Patrick Murphy’s improbable victory over Allen West in Florida’s 18th Congressional election in 2012 made the then 29-year-old construction executive an immediate budding star in Florida Democratic politics. Outspent by more than four times than in a Republican-leaning district against a Tea Party hero, Murphy’s victory over West made national news. He followed that up by easily winning reelection against Republican Carl Domino in 2014.

Not even a full year later, he’s now the favorite of many establishment Democrats in the race for the open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Marco Rubio, and on Saturday night he introduced himself to a sold-out, jammed pack room of over 300 Hillsborough County Democrats at the party’s Kennedy-King annual dinner at the Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club.

He’s also a former Republican, something that Alan Grayson frequently mentions on the campaign trail. The Orlando Congressman is Murphy’s main challenger in the race for the Democratic nomination for Senate next year.

“When I was first thinking of registering to vote, I looked at my dad, he’s my best friend and my dad’s a Republican, so I said, ‘heck, I guess that means I’m a Republican.’ So I registered as a Republican,” Murphy said in describing his political evolution.

“Then I started paying attention to what the party stood for,” he said. “I started looking at the casualties day after day during the Iraq war, how we were being lied to as a country.” Murphy says his distaste for what was happening to Iraq and then the Tea Party-led insurgence in 2010 made him sit up and say that that he didn’t want to just complain about the state of the nation, but actively do something about it. “So not only did I change parties, but I ran for office against Congressmen West, and we were elected by .5 percent in the most expensive race in the country.”

The now-32-year-old Murphy was one of the first candidates of either major party to declare his candidacy for Senate earlier this year. He said that some of his friends discouraged him for running for higher office, but he had two words for them in response: Allen West.

“He was the poster child about everything that was wrong in Washington,” Murphy said, referring to the bombastic Republican who became an icon to the Tea Party movement. “He cared more about getting a good headline than he did about helping the middle class. And the sad part is, the Senate is full of Allen Wests.”

Murphy’s demeanor is light years from West – or Grayson for that matter, who has never hesitated to mix it up with those he disagrees with.

Although Florida progressives have mocked Murphy for being too centrist, Murphy is solidly a mainstream Democrat in most of his positions, of which he touted on Saturday night – His support for wanting to help the middle class rise economically, for voting rights, comprehensive immigration reform, expanding Medicaid and raising the minimum wage.

In his brief time in Congress he’s made it part of his brand to work with anyone – meaning Republicans – to help improve the lives of Floridians and Americans. That voting record and attitude warms the heart of many in the Democratic Party establishment, who feel that a centrist is the only type of Democrat who can win a statewide office in Florida. It rankles liberals, who believe that formula has proven to be unsuccessful in too many statewide elections over the past decade.

“There should be no shame if you cross the aisle if it’s for something that’s going to help all Floridians, help all Americans,” Murphy said. “I want to be the Senator to restore that trust.”

Murphy talked about his work in launching a bipartisan caucus with the House class of 2012’s 84 freshmen that called themselves United Solutions to support an elusive “grand bargain” on deficits and spending that the nation’s leaders have failed to reach.”We identified $480 billion of wasteful, duplicative government spending. That’s your money. We’ve got to be more efficient.” And he talked about being part of a coalition of 239 Republicans and Democrats earlier this year to protect Medicare from benefit cuts.

“I’ll worked with anybody if it’s right for Florida,” he added.

He closed at the speech by trying to inspire the Hillsborough Democrats.

“Let’s send Tea Party extremists like Ted Cruz back to the minority and let’s make sure we keep a Democrat in the White House in 2016. Working togetrher we can all do great things for this state and for this country!,” as the crowd cheered.

Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Elizabeth Belcher said the party chose Murphy to keynote the Kennedy-King dinner when he was the only Democratic candidate in the Senate race. Grayson has been invited and will attend the party’s monthly meeting in Tampa next week.

Patrick Murphy works Democratic Party event to build Senate campaign

For now, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy is the only prominent Democrat in the race to replace Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, and he took advantage of that Saturday at a Florida Democratic Party fundraising event in which he portrayed himself as a moderate who isn’t going to please everybody all the time.

Murphy spent the day racing from one event to the next, speaking to Democratic caucuses for gays, women, Hispanics, African Americans and other groups. His message was that he is a moderate that believes in key Democratic principles but doesn’t always vote in lock step with the party.

“I’m not going to have an agenda for one group or another group,” Murphy told the Hispanic caucus ahead of the party’s annual fundraising dinner. “I don’t just put on blinders.”

That’s a good strategy for the general election, but Murphy could still face primary opposition. Liberal Congressman Alan Grayson is considering a run, and he could pull votes from the far left of the party. Grayson didn’t attend the party event.

While Republicans dominate state politics with huge majorities in the Legislature and have been victors in the past five state gubernatorial elections, Florida is a state whose politics tend to be more toward the middle. President Barack Obama carried the state in 2008 and 2012 and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has easily won three terms as a moderate.

Murphy is a former Republican who beat tea party favorite Allen West in 2012. He pointed out several times Saturday that Mitt Romney carried his district by four percentage points in 2012, but Murphy won re-election last year by nearly 20 points.

And he acknowledged that his moderate views won’t please everyone.

“You’re never going to make everybody happy. I have a dad who’s a Republican, a mom who’s independent, one brother is a Democrat, another brother doesn’t even know what Congress is,” Murphy said to laughs. “I was sitting with them and I’m trying to tell them my issues and positions and I couldn’t get them all to agree.”

Murphy also pledged to campaign in every county, a promise that comes the day after the state party released a report that largely blamed 2014 election losses on ignoring north Florida and rural central Florida counties. And while the party report also blamed losses on not being able to match Republicans in spending, Murphy told activists that he can win without a money advantage, pointing out that he beat West despite being badly outspent.

Rubio is running for president instead of seeking a second term. Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is also running for the seat and could face a primary from Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Republican Rick Kozell announces run for Florida’s CD 18

Attorney and Republican activist Rick Kozell is announcing he will launch a bid for South Florida’s 18th Congressional District based in Palm Beach County.

Kozell is running as an outsider who, like most Americans, is fed up with dysfunction and gridlock in Congress.

“Today, Congress seems more focused on growing the bureaucracy than on solving problems. It’s time we fix Washington and restore America’s reputation abroad,” Kozell said in a statement.

“Throughout our community, working people are struggling while big government in Washington is thriving,” Kozell continued. “We need a congressman who will fight to promote greater opportunities for hard-working Floridians and to create a healthy economy for everyone. As a former small business owner, I have seen first-hand that a rising tide of prosperity can lift all ships. I have been blessed to be the beneficiary of the American Dream and it is time we restore that Dream for everyone.”

The Jupiter native and Georgetown University Law Center graduate pointed to his experience as counsel for a Republican member of a federal administrative court.

“For the past year, I have fought the Obama Administration’s attempts to increase the reach of government into our local communities and small businesses. Now it’s time to take the fight to Congress,” Kozell declared.

Kozell has also previously worked as a law clerk in the U.S. Senate alongside Republican members of the Judiciary Committee, and for former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux of Florida and longtime U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, whom Kozell’s campaign called a “conservative hero.”

Kozell is hoping to take the 18th District back from the Democrats, who took it when former U.S. Rep. Allen West was felled by U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in 2012. The open seat was left vacant when Murphy decided to run for the U.S. Senate earlier this year.

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