Here’s where sh*t stands in Tampa Bay state legislative races

Republican Sens. Tom Lee and Bill Galvano have already won re-election, and fellow GOP incumbent Sens. Jack Latvala and Jeff Brandes only face opposition from write-in candidates in their seats. Of the six Senate seats covering Hillsborough and Pinellas County, only districts 18 and 19 will be home to a new senator in the fall.

Tampa Republican Rep. Dana Young is the front-runner in the SD 18 race in both polling and fundraising, though favorable district lines and robust fundraising from Democratic attorney Bob Buesing mean the race is far from over.

Through Aug. 12, Young had a comfortable lead with nearly $400,000 on hand in her campaign account and another $774,000 on hand in her political committee, “Friends of Dana Young,” while Buesing’s most recent report shows him with $240,000 in the bank, including nearly $100,000 in loans.

Democrats have a slight advantage in voter registrations in the Hillsborough County district, which voted plus-1 for Barack Obama four years. Young and Buesing also face no-party candidates Sheldon Upthegrove and Joe Redner, though neither candidate has seen much success in fundraising.

The SD 19 race will be decided with the Aug. 30 Democratic Primary, and as of Aug. 12, St. Petersburg attorney Augie Ribeiro held a commanding fundraising lead over Reps. Ed Narain and Darryl Rouson, as well as former Rep. Betty Reed.

Ribeiro has supplied the bulk of his own campaign funds, with more than $500,000 in loans or self-contributions since he filed June 23, though he has spent most of that money for an on hand total of $33,761. Narain and Rouson each have about $51,000 in the bank, with Reed coming in at just under $20,000.

Whether Ribeiro’s massive ad buys — he spent nearly $150,000 on media and mailers between Aug. 6 and Aug. 12 — can put him on top of his three opponents remains to be seen, though the winner of the primary should have an easy time toppling lone Republican contender John “Mr. Manners” Houman.

In the House, Republican Reps. Jake Raburn and Jamie Grant and Democratic Rep. Janet Cruz have won re-election without opposition, while fellow incumbents Dan Raulerson, Chris Sprowls, Larry Ahern and Chris Latvala are all dominating their opponents on the fundraising front.

HD 69 Rep. Kathleen Peters has also turned on the afterburners in recent months to shoot past Democratic challenger Jennifer Webb, who she led by about $65,000 as of Aug. 12.

While Republican Rep. Ross Spano still leads in the HD 59 race, Democrat Rene Frazier has crossed the $100,000 on hand mark and only trails the incumbent by about $6,000.

Frazier, an attorney, still must get past schoolteacher Naze Sahebzamani in the Democratic Primary, however. As of her last report, she trailed Frazier with about $19,000 on hand.

HD 63 could also flip this cycle, as it did in 2012 and in 2014, though Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison has held on to the fundraising lead.

According to his most recent report, the two-time representative has about $116,000 in the bank compared to $84,000 for former Democratic Tampa City Council member Lisa Montelione.

Montelione no longer faces primary opponent Mike Reedy, who dropped out of the race, so she and Harrison have already begun the sprint toward Election Day.

Most of the rest of the Bay Area’s seats should be decided during the Aug. 30 primary election, including who will replace Young in HD 60, Rouson in HD 70 and Democratic Rep. Dwight Dudley in HD 68.

Republican Rebecca Smith has about $133,000 in the bank in the contest to take over for Young, compared to $61,000 for fellow Republican Jackie Toledo. Smith also picked up endorsements from top state level Republicans Adam Putnam and Jeff Atwater.

No matter who makes it out of the primary, they face stiff odds against lone Democratic candidate David Singer, though he has been able to amass a $67,000 war chest since filing for the seat in April.

In the HD 70 race St. Petersburg City Councilman Wengay Newton is the only candidate with money in his campaign account. His $22,000 on-hand total bests fellow Democrats CJ Czaia, who is $100 in the red, and Dan Fiorini, who has about $1,400.

Republican Cori Fournier is also running for the Democratic stronghold and has about $100 on hand.

In HD 68, Democrats Ben Diamond and Eric Lynn have been in a major spending battle, with Diamond nearly burning through all but about $14,000 of his $238,000 in fundraising thus far.

Lynn, who entered the race in May after dropping out of the CD 13 contest, has about $88,000 of his fundraising total, leaving him with about $20,000 in the bank Aug. 12.

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As Hillary Clinton asks for money, what she says remains a mystery

It was a very busy, very lucrative weekend for Hillary Clinton in the summer playground of the East Coast’s moneyed elite.

She brunched with wealthy backers at a seaside estate in Nantucket, snacking on shrimp dumplings and crab cakes. A few hours later, she and her husband dined with an intimate party of thirty at a secluded Martha’s Vineyard estate. And on Sunday afternoon, she joined the singer Cher at an “LGBT summer celebration” on the far reaches of Cape Cod.

By Sunday evening, Clinton had spoken to more than 2,200 campaign donors. But what she told the crowds remains a mystery.

Clinton has refused to open her fundraisers to journalists, reversing nearly a decade of greater transparency in presidential campaigns and leaving the public guessing at what she’s saying to some of her most powerful supporters.

It’s an approach that differs from the Democratic president she hopes to succeed. Since his 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama has allowed reporters traveling with him into the backyards and homes of wealthy donors to witness his some of his remarks.

While reporters are escorted out of Obama’s events before the start of the juicier Q&A, the president’s approach offers at least a limited measure of accountability that some fear may disappear when Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump moves into the White House.

“Unfortunately these things have a tendency to ratchet down,” said Larry Noble, the general counsel of the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center. “As the bar gets lower, it’s hard to raise it again.”

Clinton’s campaign does release limited details about her events, naming the hosts, how many people attended and how much they gave. That’s more than Trump, whose far fewer fundraisers are held entirely away from the media, with no details provided.

Even some Democrats privately acknowledge that Clinton’s penchant for secrecy is a liability, given voters continued doubts about her honesty.

While Clinton will occasionally take questions from reporters at campaign stops, she has not held a full-fledged news conference in more than 260 days. Trump has held several. She refuses to release the transcripts of dozens of closed-door speeches she delivered to companies and business associations after leaving the State Department, despite significant bipartisan criticism.

And since announcing her presidential bid in April 2015, Clinton has held around 300 fundraising events — only around five have been open to any kind of news coverage.

“It does feed this rap about being secretive and being suspicious,” said GOP strategist Whit Ayers.

Clinton’s aides have promised for weeks that greater access to her events will be coming soon. But Trump’s lack of disclosure has given her political cover to keep the doors closed, particularly as she conducts a period of intense fundraising before the final sprint to Election Day.

While Clinton is expected to make only two public appearances before the end of August, she and her top backers will mingle with donors at no fewer than 54 events according to a fundraising schedule obtained by The Associated Press.

Reporters covering these events wait outside, in vans, parking lots and vacant guesthouses — even at homes they’ve entered with Obama at previous events. In Provincetown on Sunday, five reporters crowded into the corner of a parking lot, clinging to a chain-link fence as they tried to catch Clinton’s speech to a crowd of about 1,000 supporters.

None of her remarks seemed particularly remarkable: The candidate could faintly be heard running through her standard stump speech.

During a Saturday fundraiser at a stately Martha’s Vineyard estate, faint cheers could be heard as Clinton addressed 700 donors on a green lawn overlooking the water. Staffers instructed drivers to roll up the windows of the vans where reporters waited before being ushered into a nearby guesthouse.

What a candidate tells his or her rich donors has long been a subject of intense speculation in American politics, in part because the message can be different from what they offer to voters.

Obama is still haunted by a comment he made at a 2008 fundraiser in San Francisco, calling voters in small town Pennsylvania “bitter” and saying they cling to “guns or religion.” He learned a lesson: At events during his 2012 campaign, staffers set up a table where guests were expected to check their cellphones before entering. Clinton has tried to ban tweeting, Instagram and other forms of social media at some of her events.

Four years ago, a waiter recorded and leaked remarks GOP nominee Mitt Romney made about the “47 percent” of voters who are “dependent on government and would vote for Obama “no matter what” at a closed Florida fundraiser. After his convention, Romney started opening his fundraisers to the media to grab headlines, especially on days when he had no other public appearances.

His former aides say that’s not a problem for Clinton.

“Quite frankly, if I’m her, it may not be a bad thing to let Donald Trump be the only candidate making news on any given day,” said former Romney campaign aide Ryan Williams. “She can stay dark for five straight days and let Trump trip all over himself.”

___

Keep track of how much Clinton and Trump are spending on television advertising, and where they’re spending it, via AP’s interactive ad tracker http://elections.ap.org/content/ad-spending.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Barack Obama returning from summer vacation ready for busy fall

President Barack Obama is returning from vacation rested and ready for a busy fall, including pressing Congress for money to protect against the Zika virus and fending off lawmakers’ attacks over the administration’s $400 million “leverage” payment to Iran.

Obama also is expected to campaign doggedly to help elect Democrat Hillary Clinton as president.

Obama was due at the White House late Sunday after a 16-day getaway to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, with his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha.

His first order of business is a Tuesday trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to survey damage from flooding that killed at least 13 people and forced thousands into shelters.

Obama resisted pressure from Louisianans and others to interrupt his vacation to tour the ruins and meet with officials and flood victims. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump filled the void created by Obama’s absence, touring the ravaged area Friday with his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and helping to unload a supply truck.

Obama planned to spend the rest of the week in meetings, largely to prepare for an upcoming, weeklong trip to Asia, his 11th and likely final visit to the region as president.

With Congress still on a seven-week break, Obama and aides probably will focus on what the White House can get from lawmakers before they leave town to campaign for re-election. Congress returns after Labor Day, and the House and Senate will have just a month to pass a catch-all spending bill by the Sept. 30 end of the federal budget year to keep the government operating.

Lawmakers plan to leave Washington again at the end of September, and not return until after the Nov. 8 elections.

The White House will continue to press lawmakers for money to help keep the mosquito-borne Zika virus from spreading and to develop a vaccine, now that Florida last week identified the popular Miami tourist haven of South Beach as the second site of Zika transmission on the U.S. mainland. A section of Miami’s Wynwood arts district was the first.

Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion this year for Zika prevention. Republicans offered $1.1 billion and added provisions that Democrats objected to, including language on Planned Parenthood and other issues, leaving the matter in limbo before Congress adjourned in mid-July. Lawmakers could end up adding Zika money to the broader spending bill.

In turn, incensed lawmakers have promised to keep the heat on the administration over $400 million it delivered to Iran in January. Republicans say the money was ransom, paid to win freedom for four Americans who were being held in Iran. Questioned about the payment earlier this month, Obama said: “We do not pay ransom. We didn’t here. And we … won’t in the future.”

The president and other officials denied any linkage. But administration officials also said it made little sense not to “retain maximum leverage,” as State Department spokesman John Kirby put it last week, for the money long owed to Iran, to ensure the U.S. citizens’ release, given uncertainty about whether Iran would keep its promise to free them the day the money was to be delivered.

The explanations have failed to satisfy critics in and out of Congress. Trump has begun telling supporters at his campaign rallies that Obama “openly and blatantly” lied about the prisoners. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Obama has set a “dangerous precedent” and owes the public a “full accounting of his actions.”

Obama opens the fall, and what’s expected to be a dogged effort to boost Clinton to the White House, in improved standing with the public, according to the Pew Research Center. His job approval rating stands at 53 percent, compared with 42 percent disapproval. That’s about the same as just before July’s political conventions.

But Obama’s standing among independent voters has reached positive territory for the first time since December 2012. Fifty-three percent of independents approve of Obama’s job performance, the center found, while 40 percent disapprove. Independents had split 46 percent to 46 percent on the question in June.

Obama won’t spend much time at the White House after a vacation during which he played golf or went to the beach almost daily.

After the Louisiana visit, the president heads to Nevada on Aug. 31 to discuss environmental protection at the Lake Tahoe Summit. The next day, he is scheduled to fly to Midway Island, in the north Pacific, for a climate change event before opening the Sept. 2-9 trip to China and Laos. Obama will become the first U.S. president to visit Laos.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Mitch Perry Report for 8.17.16 – Impeachment memories

Before Barack Obama was elected, a lot of political observers said that with such a divided nation, every president could face the potential of being impeached.

I’m reminded of that today on the 18th year anniversary of Bill Clinton giving a prime-time address to the nation after seven months of silence on the Monica Lewinsky matter.

“I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression. I misled people, including even my wife,” he said in a four-minute address. “I deeply regret that.”

“While legally accurate, I did not volunteer information,” Clinton added.

Ah, the 90’s. We all know what happened later that year: the House of Representatives impeached Clinton in December, but he was eventually acquitted by the Senate a couple of months later. It was a wasted year out of everybody’s lives, though Clinton came out of it more popular than ever (thanks to the booming economy) and House Republican suffered, with Newt Gingrich losing his Speakership after the November ’98 elections.

While Clinton has been the only president impeached in recent times, it should be noted that Obama will leave his presidency in five months without ever seriously being threatened with the ultimate sanction from Congress.

Going back to the 80’s, there was serious talk that Ronald Reagan could be impeached for the Iran-Contra affair in 1986.

In 1991, on the day the Gulf War broke out, Texas Democratic Representative Henry Gonzalez introduced a resolution with five impeachment charges against George H.W. Bush.

And there was serious talk that was shut down by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the idea of impeaching George W. Bush because of the Iraq war.

And do you want make a bet that whether it’s Trump or Hillary in the White House next year, there will be ferocious congressional opposition waiting for the biggest slip to perhaps make a similar effort.

But with Obama, though he’s angered the political right throughout his 7.5 years in office, there’s never been anyone seriously saying that he’s done something worthy of such consideration.

In other news.

Jackie Toledo is going all out in her quest to win the House District 60 GOP primary later this month. A new mailer says she’ll crack down on “illegal aliens,” and says she’d attempt to repeal two recent bills passed by the Legislature, including one that gives in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.

CD 15 Democratic hopeful Jim Lange has some language on his website that echoes closely that of progressive icons Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Eric Lynn and Ben Diamond fought yesterday over who dropped the ball in trying to get a debate set up between the two Democrats in their race for the House District 68 campaign. The bottom line? No debates for anyone.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit agency (HART) held a transportation summit in Tampa yesterday.

And the NRA is backing Daniel Webster in his quest to win the Congressional District 11 race.

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Direct mail round-up: Flyer says Augie Ribeiro not a true Democrat, has no Florida law license

Listen to Augie Ribeiro talk, hear his ads or read his campaign literature and two themes stand out: Ribeiro is an attorney who fights for the little guy and he’s the only “true Democrat” in the race for state Senate District 19.

But a flyer that landed in Democratic mailboxes Monday — the first day of early voting in Pinellas — tells voters just to hold on. Ribeiro, it says, is not only not a true Democrat, he wasn’t even a Democrat until 29 months ago. And, worse, he has no Florida law license. And, although it does not use the term “carpetbagger,” the flyer says multimillionaire Ribeiro is a “New York lawyer” who “thinks he can buy an election.”

Augie Ribiero with Hillary Clinton“Like [Gov.] Rick Scott, now he’s spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and wants to be your voice in Tallahassee,” the flyer says.

The mailing is a product of the Ed Narain-connected political action committee “Floridians for Principled Leadership.” Narain, Ribeiro, Darryl Rouson and Betty Reed are facing off for SD 19 in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary. The winner will face Republican John “Mr. Manners” Houman in the Nov. 8 general election.

“If someone’s going to make an allegation that I’m not a true Democrat, that’s a little surprising to me,” Ribeiro said Tuesday.

That’s because, Ribeiro said, he has impeccable Democratic credentials. Not only did he support President Barack Obama, but he’s also been on Hillary Clinton’s Florida finance team since before she became an official candidate.

And, Ribeiro said, state Democrats heavily recruited him to run for the state Senate seat held by Republican Jeff Brandes. He didn’t run because redistricting excluded him from the district.

So, instead, he decided to run for the District 19 seat held by Arthenia Joyner, who is terming out. That, he said, upset some party leaders.

“You can’t tell me I’m not a Democrat,” he said.

Ribeiro concedes he has no license to practice law in Florida although he’s admitted to the bar in Connecticut and New York. He is also admitted to the federal bar.

But, Ribeiro said that, in the lawsuit over the BP oil spill, he represented local cities — St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island — and Tampa municipal subdivisions — Raymond James Stadium, the Florida Aquarium, golf courses and others — as well as local nonprofits. He did that because he had local attorneys on the case, which was tried in a federal court in Louisiana. He filed a special appearance in that court, he said.

That’s similar to a lawsuit filed against General Motors, which made use of local attorneys. The federal trial was in New York.

Augie Ribeiro with Obama“I never claimed to have a local practice or be soliciting local clients,” Ribeiro said.

Ribeiro conceded his success at suing big companies has made him wealthy. The flyer and his financial declaration indicate he’s worth about $29 million.

And he’s spent about $300,000 on his campaign, according to the flyer.

It’s true, Ribeiro said, that he has been able to finance his campaign because of his own wealth and the generosity of relatives and friends. That was the goal — to avoid taking money from special interests.

“I think it’s hard to be in the state Legislature and bite the hand that feeds you. I won’t be bought,” Ribeiro said. “I don’t want to be beholden to the special interests that have taken control of the Legislature.”

Anti-Ribeiro Flyer Anti-Ribeiro flyer 1

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Hillary Clinton campaign reports 34.2 percent tax rate

Hillary Clinton‘s campaign says the Democratic nominee and her husband paid a federal tax rate of 34.2 percent and donated 9.8 percent of their income to charity last year.

The Clintons are releasing their 2015 filings on Friday. Her campaign is also releasing returns from running mate Tim Kaine and his wife.

The campaign says the Kaines have donated 7.5 percent of their income to charity over the last decade. They paid an effective tax rate of 25.6 percent in 2015.

Clinton is trying to undercut the trustworthiness of rival Donald Trump. He has refused to disclose any returns, breaking tradition with all recent presidential candidates.

Trump says he won’t release them until Internal Revenue Service completes audits of his returns.

The Clintons have disclosed returns for every year since 1977.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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New poll shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump virtually tied in Florida

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are neck-and-neck in the Sunshine State.

A new Quinnipiac University poll found 46 percent of likely Florida voters polls were backing Clinton, while 45 percent picked Trump. The survey of 1,056 likely Florida voters has a margin of error of 3 percent.

Clinton is still deeply disliked in Florida. The survey found 55 percent of likely voters said they had an unfavorable opinion of her. About 39 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of the former secretary of state.

Trump didn’t fare much better: 54 percent of likely voters said they had an unfavorable view, while 39 percent had a positive view.

By comparison, 53 percent of Florida voters said they had a favorable view of President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton; and 61 percent of those polled said they had a favorable opinion of First Lady Michelle Obama.

The survey found only 29 percent of respondents said they were pro-Trump. Instead, 54 percent of respondents said they were supporting the New York businessman because they did not support Clinton.

When it comes to Clinton voters, 42 percent said they were voting for her because they were pro-Clinton. Another 41 percent said their main motivation was to vote against Trump.

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Hillary Clinton spends big on Olympic ads, with Donald Trump on sidelines

The Rio Olympics are in full swing: Michael Phelps is back to winning races in the pool, Simone Biles is running up the score in the gym and Hillary Clinton is advertising with eyes on doing just as well on Election Day.

Donald Trump isn’t even competing.

The Democratic presidential nominee is airing $13.6 million in campaign commercials during the Summer Games, seeking to reach the millions of television viewers who can’t skip past the commercials as they watch live coverage of the Olympics.

She has the audience to herself, as Trump has yet to air his first paid TV ad of the general election campaign.

It’s a striking change from four years ago, when then-cash-strapped Mitt Romney and his allies scrounged up the estimated $18 million needed to match what President Barack Obama was spending to advertise during the three weeks of the London Games, according to Kantar Media’s political advertising tracker.

While Trump’s campaign has requested advertising rates from stations in key states, including Florida, the Olympics are quickly slipping beyond his reach. The opening ceremony was Friday and this week features some of the most popular sports, including swimming and women’s gymnastics.

“I’d love to know what they’re waiting for,” said Will Ritter, a Republican ad maker and veteran of Romney’s presidential bids. Trump’s eschewal of political norms such as advertising “cannot survive the professionalized deconstruction that Hillary is doing every day,” he said.

As anyone watching the games can attest, Clinton’s advertising is as omnipresent as NBC’s commercial breaks. Her spots appear alongside those of corporate behemoths such as McDonald’s and Chevrolet.

Over the first three weeks of August, Clinton is spending $8 million on the national NBC network, which carries the games, and at least another $4.5 million on local NBC affiliates, an Associated Press analysis of Kantar Media data found. The campaign is also spending another $1.1 million on NBC’s cable channels Bravo, USA and MSNBC.

One Clinton ad in heavy rotation is an awkward clip from David Letterman‘s late-night talk show. In it, the host holds up Trump shirts and ties and points out that they were made in Bangladesh and China, not America. To that, Trump smiles sheepishly.

The commercial ends with the text: “He’s outsourced jobs to 12 countries.” And it digs at his campaign slogan: “Make America great again.”

Clinton is following Obama’s Olympics playbook. The president debuted several commercials during the games in 2012, including one during the ratings-heavy — and expensive — opening ceremony. His spots were a mix of positive messages about his presidency and his contrasts with Romney.

Romney and his allies also took advantage of the games. But the GOP nominating convention was still weeks away when the London Games began, putting money he raised for his general election campaign out of reach.

The pro-Romney super political action committee Restore Our Future aired an ad featuring Olympic athletes talking about Romney’s business sense. He was tapped to run the 2002 Salt Lake City winter games, the first after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“We made the determination the Olympics offered a large, captive audience who weren’t channel surfing,” former Restore Our Future leader Carl Forti said. “And in the case of Mitt Romney, we had a candidate who turned around the Salt Lake Olympics and had a unique story to tell.”

Although neither Trump nor Clinton has as personal a connection to the Olympics, presidential candidates usually cannot resist the ratings bonanza, even if the ads come at a higher cost. Trump isn’t short on funds, having announced recently that he and his Republican allies raised more than $80 million last month.

Asked about Trump’s decision to stay off the air, Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks said the campaign was not yet ready to provide details about its TV advertising strategy.

There are a few pro-Trump groups doing a relatively minor amount of advertising.

Rebuilding America Now is spending about $2 million in the first three weeks of this month, but has nothing on the national NBC network. Its spending is concentrated on national cable and in four states: Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Kantar Media shows.

The NRA’s political arm also has $1.3 million in anti-Clinton spots up during the same time period — but again, not on the national NBC network.

Steve Duprey, a Republican national committeeman from New Hampshire, conceded that Trump is missing a chance to connect with millions of voters. He suggested it may not matter.

“While the decision not to have big ad buy during Olympics is unconventional,” he said, “I’m not sure conventional rules apply.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Hillary Clinton supporters in St. Petersburg optimistic that if elected, she’ll be able to work with Republicans

The polls are looking good for Hillary Clinton today, exactly three months before the general election.

A Monmouth University national poll released Monday night shows that 46 percent of registered voters support Clinton, while 34 percent back Donald Trump. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson gets 7 percent and 2 percent back Jill Stein of the Green Party.

At the Coliseum in St. Petersburg on Monday afternoon, several Clinton supporters said that Trump’s verbal excesses would continue to drag him down before November

“He’s got no Latino votes, no black votes, not even all of the Republicans, so I don’t see how theoretically he does it,” said St. Petersburg resident Doug Chenneville. “I have family members not too far away who are voting for Trump. But I’m honestly shocked that he’s getting the numbers that he is because I think he’s a complete disgrace to this county. I really do, he’s putting his own self-interest before everyone else in this country. Which begs the question, does he really not want to be the president?

But if Clinton is elected, and the Congress remains in Republican hands, will things really change much?

Some observers say they believe that relations will be better between Clinton and the GOP-led House and Senate than it has been under Barack Obama.

“I believe they will work with her, because she has a track record,” said Chenneville.

“Probably so, because she’s not black,” said a blunt Jim Donelon. “I think the Democrats are going to take the Senate and pick up some seats in the House that might wake up those idiot Republicans who say, ‘no compromise, no nothing,’ so I’m hoping.”

“I firmly believe the hand that rocks the cradle, rocks the world, and people are not paying attention to the fact that she has a track record of working under the radar, and very quietly when she was in the U.S. Senate,” says Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, a Democrat (seen with her granddaughter Athena). “She was not a braggart. She was not out there trying to make everything about her. She has a very solid reputation of being a very hard worker and getting things done.”

Steve Zebos is currently a scout for the Chicago White Sox, a former major league baseball player who pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and also taught U.S. history at Maine Township High School in Park Ridge, Illinois for 25 years. One of his students back in the 1960’s was one Hillary Rodham.

“Her favorite teacher was Paul Carlson, who was a great Republican. His classroom looked like a miniature Republican convention center,” Zebos said as the crowd began filing into the Coliseum on Monday afternoon. “In her book she has a picture of Paul, and says ‘this is my first history teacher.’ He really got her involved in politics.”

Zebos said he attended a class reunion for Maine Township back in Washington D.C. in 1995.

“I feel like Hillary has a very good foundation of judgement. She was a straight A student,” he said. “She’s very smart. I think she’ll do a very good job” as president, he added.

Clearwater resident Nicole Terry said she remains concerned about a Trump presidency, saying “it could be bad for the world as a hole.”

But she cautioned supporters from being too cocky. “Everybody, regardless, has got to get out and do to do what they need to do. You can never take anything for granted.”

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Barack Obama sends fundraising email on behalf of Patrick Murphy

President Barack Obama has a question for Florida voters: Can you pitch in a few bucks to help Patrick Murphy?

The campaign is sending out a fundraising email from Obama to supporters Tuesday. While the president has lent his support to Murphy in the past, the email marks the first time he has sent a fundraising appeal to voters in Florida’s U.S. Senate race.

“Patrick’s a strong progressive who’s fought special interests on behalf of working families – and won. In Congress, he’s also fought to strengthen Medicare and Social Security, stand up to the NRA for gun violence prevention, and protect a woman’s right to choose,” the president said in the email. “With all that’s at stake, we need Patrick Murphy in the Senate. But he’ll need your help to get there.”

The email goes on to say Murphy “stands up to Republicans on behalf of our shared values.”

“It’s why they’re attacking him. They know he can win in November, and they’ll spare no expense to defeat him,” he writes in the email.

Both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have endorsed Murphy, a Treasure Coast Democrat, in the U.S. Senate race. Both Biden and Obama have helped raise cash for Murphy’s campaign. The president attended a Miami fundraiser for Murphy in June, and Biden has attended several fundraisers for Murphy, including one in Tallahassee last week.

Obama also cut a campaign advertisement for Murphy, and penned a letter encouraging Floridians to vote for Murphy in the primary.

Murphy faces Alan Grayson and Pam Keith in the Aug. 30 primary. A recent Suffolk University poll showed 36 percent of likely voters said they would vote for Murphy, while 17 percent picked Grayson, an Orlando Democrat. About 2 percent of voters picked Keith, while 40 percent said they were still undecided.

The support from the president and vice president — as well as other establishment Democrats — could be critical come November. Much like Murphy, Sen. Marco Rubio is expected to win his primary. The same Suffolk University poll showed Rubio led his opponent, Manatee County Republican Carlos Beruff, 62 percent to 12 percent.

The general election is expected to be one of the most watched Senate races this election cycle, and outside groups are poised to spend millions of dollars in the Sunshine State. Recent polling averages compiled by RealClearPolitics show Rubio has a slight lead over Murphy.

“It’s more important than ever than we retake the Senate,” said Obama the email to Murphy supporters. “It’s critical to our country’s future — and continuing the progress we’ve made together under our next President. And Florida could be the state that decides it.”

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