Mitch Perry Report for 7.7.16 – Tea Party Patriots heart Marco Rubio

f you remember when we first heard about the Tea Party in early 2009, its supporters talked about having a pox on both houses – that is, they felt that Republicans and Democrats were part of the same dirty cesspool that is Washington D.C.

A lot of things have changed since then, but I became a bit cynical in early 2010. That’s when the late C.W. Bill Young received a Tea Party challenger by the name of Eric Forcade in his Pinellas County congressional election. Anyone remember him?

To go back to a story I wrote for Creative Loafing back in 2010, Forcade said the problem he had with Young wasn’t his famous predilection for earmarks, but that ” “we have 535 Bill Youngs out there, with everyone trying to bring pork home. It’s not just him, it’s everyone stealing from Peter to pay Paul, as long as Paul is one of his constituents.”

Two months later, Forcade endorsed Young. Hypocritical? Forcade said not really, and that Young was still far preferable than Young’s Democratic opponent that year, Charlie Justice.

“Do you support the guy who’s spent more than $500 million in earmarks, or the guy [Justice] who’s part of the problem by supporting spending a trillion dollars on health care and cap-and-trade and other government takeovers?” he said at the time.

Flash forward to yesterday, when Tea Party Patriots endorsed Marco Rubio over Carlos Beruff in the Florida Senate race.

Group leader Jenny Beth Martin said in her statement that yes, Rubio did essentially stab the Tea Party activists who helped elect him in 2010 in the back with his support for comprehensive immigration reform, but all is forgotten, because he’s now seen the light on the issue.

“Let’s be frank: That mistake hurt him with Tea Party activists in Florida, and across the nation,” she said. “But he now says he recognizes the difficulty of dealing with such an issue in a comprehensive fashion, and instead supports a one-at-a-time approach – first, implement real border security, and don’t make any further moves until the public agrees that our borders are secure. Then, and only then, will we be able successfully to move on to other aspects of the immigration reform agenda. Tea Party Patriots believes that will be a successful strategy, and we support Sen. Rubio’s decision to follow that course.”

Far be it for me to suggest what the Tea Party is or who they should represent. However, on a number of fronts, one can argue that Senator Rubio is very much a creature of Washington these days. But there are several folks in the Senate who wear their Tea Party roots strongly – Utah’s Mike Lee, Texas’ Ted Cruz, perhaps you could say Kentucky’s Rand Paul. So why not Rubio?

Has the Tea Party “gone Washington” themselves? The message certainly has changed a little bit since those halcyon days in ’09…

n other news…

A D.C. watchdog group is calling on the Florida Inspector General and the Commission on Ethics to investigate Pam Bondi’s lack of an investigation of Trump University. 

Hillsborough County State Attorney Democratic candidate Andrew Warren was rebuked by a federal judge last year for requesting a couple of days off.

Joni Ernst keynotes a big Americans for Prosperity Florida event in Orlando in September.

Ben Diamond is challenging Eric Lynn to a series of debates before the Aug. 30 Democratic primary in House District 68.

Ed Narain goes up with the first ad in the Senate District 19 campaign.

And Equality Florida says that the fundraising campaign for the victims of the Orlando shooting massacre last month has now raised over $7 million.

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David Jolly says he intends not to mention Charlie Crist’s name at all in their blockbuster congressional match-up

Two years ago, special interest money out of Washington made the special congressional election in Florida’s 13th District between David Jolly and Alex Sink one of the most expensive of all time. While it’s unlikely that the spending will exceed the reported $12 million that was spent in 2014, it’s a race that the Democrats will desperately try to win – especially if they believe that they have the ability to win the entire House of Representatives because of the deleterious affects of a Donald Trump candidacy affecting down-ballot races.

Friday afternoon in Clearwater, CD 13 Representative David Jolly confirmed the rumors – he is dropping out of the Florida GOP Senate race to run for re-election against former Governor Charlie Crist.

“I’m asking my community simply for the opportunity to keep doing my job,” Jolly said after a seven-minute preamble to explain the circumstances that led to his decision. “Today I’m announcing that I will seek ree-lection to the US House of Representatives, for Pinellas County.”

Speaking inside an airplane hanger at the Clearwater-St. Petersburg airport, Jolly confirmed that the filing deadline of June 24 compelled him to decide on his political future this week, and he said that he made it in concert with his wife Laura within the past 48 hours.

Rumors that Jolly would drop out of the Senate race accelerated with the concurrent stories that failed presidential candidate Marco Rubio has been having second thoughts about not running for re-election, and could very well enter back into the race. Jolly was the only one of the five GOP candidates who have been running  for the seat to say outright he would drop out if that scenario played out.

Jolly has bemoaned the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling last year that the CD 13 district was one of eight in Florida that were drawn up in violation of the state constitution in 2012, saying that it had been an ideal swing-district, a rarity in American politics these days. He was quoted last October as saying that no Republican could win the seat, begging the question: Why does he think it’s viable now?

The Congressman answered by saying that his comments at the time are still valid, citing the double-digit margins of victory that President Obama enjoyed in 2012 and Crist did while running for governor in 2014. “By entering this race, I believe as a sitting Republican House member, we might have the most challenging race for a Republican in the country, in a very expensive media market, against a very well qualified candidate in Charlie Crist, who has shown that he can win races. So I am not naive with the challenge we are undertaken.”

He went on to say he didn’t know or care what current polls say, but these are the facts: a St. Pete Polls survey conducted recently shows Jolly to be in a straight-up tie with Crist, and reportedly private polls conducted by state Senator Jack Latvala show Jolly actually leading Crist.

Crist supporters were quick to note that Jolly’s narrow, two-percentage point victory over Sink in 2014 occurred when turnout was less than 40 percent, and said in this year’s presidential election the turnout could be as a high as 75 percent. And they noted that in 2014, 40 percent of new voters were Democrats, 37 percent Republicans and 23 percent independents.

However, in March, Republicans superseded Democrats in terms of party registration for the first time in years, and while some Democrats attempted to spin that total as a result of voters signing up to vote for and against Trump, the fact of the matter is that Trump easily won the CD 13 vote, so if there were voters registering as Republicans to vote against Trump, they didn’t appear in very large numbers in the primary in March.

Last fall, the normally amiable Jolly uncharacteristically crashed Crist’s announcement that he was running in CD 13, prompting this reporter to ask Jolly if he has enmity towards the former Republican that could result in an intensely negative campaign this fall?

Jolly said simply he felt he was more qualified than Crist to represent the district, and said that while his opinions about his new opponent have been extensively reported on, he doesn’t intend to reference it at all between now and November, a laudable goal that could be impossible to adhere to depending on the state of the race in October.

Jolly did say that he one asked Crist for a refund from a campaign contribution he made to the former governor when he switched parties (he said Crist ignored the request), and no longer votes early in the voting cycle after having committed to Crist early in his 2006 gubernatorial run against Democrat Jim Davis. But a constant theme throughout the nearly half-hour long press conference was that he wanted to “change the tone in Washington,” and clearly bashing his new opponent would hardly fit into his branding. “Hopefully, you won’t hear me utter another candidate’s name between now and November, you’ll only hear me talk about my record and what I intend to for the county.”

In a brief statement, Crist noted Jolly’s uninvited appearance to his campaign announcement last fall.

“Unlike what my new opponent did when I announced, I’m not going to start name calling like Donald Trump – everyone should do what’s in their heart,” Crist said. “Pinellas needs less Donald Trump and more civility to tackle issues like the rising cost of health care, gun violence, failing schools, and protecting our environment –  that’s why I’m running, for the people.”

While Crist was ready to turn the other cheek, it was another story with the national and Florida Democratic Party.

“David Jolly wanted any excuse to end his Senate campaign that was defined by lackluster support and pathetic attempts to scrub his lobbying career from his public biography,” said DSCC Communications Director Sadie Weiner. “He was ill-prepared to run a statewide race, let alone represent Florida in the U.S. Senate.  We wish the NRCC the best of luck with their former lobbyist candidate who they accused of lying after he brought a secret camera crew into their office.”

“Jolly’s lack of commitment and principle are exactly what Pinellas County residents would expect from a Washington lobbyist who is only interested in furthering his political career,” said  Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant. “Florida Democrats look forward to sending David Jolly back to K Street in November.”

Democrats are already attacking Jolly for his draft proposal this week that would tighten firearm restrictions for potential terrorists, while also requiring the individual who was denied the ability to purchase a gun be entitled to a due process hearing within 30 days before a federal judge. At that time the government must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the individual should be on the watch list and prohibit from purchasing a firearm.

Democratic protestors (who were not allowed into the hangar but stood holding signs at a gate outside) held signs called Jolly a hypocrite for opposing similar Democratic proposals to restrict terrorists or suspected terrorists from being able to purchase firearms. “The issue with the terror watch list is an individual never had due process, and that’s the fallibility of the simple proposal of ‘no-fly, no -buy.’ But we can fix that,” Jolly said.

A handful of Pinellas County Republicans were on the scene to show their support, such as Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, who worked with Jolly on Congressman Bill Young’s staff. The Mayor said he wasn’t surprised to see Jolly fairing well in early polls. “He has reached out throughout the district  from day one, and he’s done a good job representing all of us.”

Palm Harbor state Representative Chris Sprowls said the community knows both candidates well. “They’re going to evaluate them, and I think that based on that, they’re going to elect David Jolly back to Congress.”

While Jolly says he won’t criticize Crist, that message apparently isn’t universal with his surrogates. “I think that Pinellas County voters will see the difference between the two,” said Clearwater state Representative Chris Latvala.  “One of them you have a statesman, the other one you have someone who will say and do and belong to every political party they think will advance their own political career.”

Both candidate are considered moderates, a byproduct of Pinellas County politics. Jolly emphasized the moderate nature of his brand of politics, a moderate stance that many felt would ultimately doom him a GOP senate primary race, though he has remained competitive in the polling to date.

“Listen, I bring some very conservative core convictions,” he said, “but I think I’ve demonstrated on areas like equality and non-discrimination and climate science to guns, that if we sit down together, I can advance my conservative convictions while giving voice to others that perhaps are on the other side of the spectrum, and we can reach a consensus solution that’s right for the American people.”

The scenario is now quite different for Crist than when he entered the contest last fall, with his biggest task being to put away then Democratic challenger Eric Lynn. It should be a fascinating race.

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David Jolly drops Senate bid, will seek re-election to CD 13; Charlie Crist, Dems respond

 U.S. Rep. David Jolly has unfinished business.

After weeks of pressure from local officials, bolstered by rumors of Marco Rubio seeking re-election, Jolly is dropping his bid for the U.S. Senate, opting instead for a re-election bid in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

“David Jolly’s passion is to serve the people of Pinellas,” former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker confirmed in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “He learned at the side of Congressman Bill Young, and he has effectively served all parts of our county.

“I strongly endorse his candidacy and his re-election.”

With the possibility of Rubio entering the race, the prospects for Jolly — a Harbor Bluffs Republican — in the crowded Senate GOP primary had worsened somewhat. The decision to run for re-election indicates his feeling that there is a better chance against former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running as a Democrat for the Pinellas County-based seat.

“Unlike what my new opponent did when I announced,” Crist said in a statement.  “I’m not going to start name calling like [Republican presidential front-runner] Donald Trump – everyone should do what’s in their heart. Pinellas needs less Donald Trump and more civility to tackle issues like the rising cost of health care, gun violence, failing schools, and protecting our environment –  that’s why I’m running, for the people.”

As for Jolly’s Senate aspirations, the challenge for him and the other GOP Senate candidates in Florida was Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority leader who has openly backed Rubio entering the race.

McConnell, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other leaders, lobbied for Rubio to run for re-election.

According to Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida, McConnell’s move chilled many donors by casting doubts on the viability of the five Republicans already in the Senate race. June was expected to be a strong fundraising month for all the candidates.

Jolly entered the Senate race last year after Rubio, the incumbent, launched his bid for president. However, after exiting the race earlier this year, Rubio told reporters last week he would consider a return to the Senate in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando, which gave him the inspiration on how he could best serve the nation.

If Rubio decides to run, he must do it by June 24, the filing deadline to qualify for the ballot.

As for the remaining Republican field, both Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis also stated they would not run against Rubio if he seeks re-election.

Manatee County homebuilder Carlos Beruff and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox — two outsider candidates who have officially filed to run — have maintained that they will continue their campaigns, despite Rubio.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s Sadie Weiner blasted Jolly’s decision to run for his old House seat as the result of “lackluster support” for his “ill-prepared” Senate campaign.

“David Jolly wanted any excuse to end his Senate campaign that was defined by lackluster support and pathetic attempts to scrub his lobbying career from his public biography,” Weiner said in a statement. “He was ill-prepared to run a statewide race, let alone represent Florida in the U.S. Senate.  We wish the NRCC the best of luck with their former lobbyist candidate who they accused of lying after he brought a secret camera crew into their office.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant argued that Jolly “abandoned” Pinellas County voters when he decided to run for the Senate, and only returned to the CD 13 race when he saw that no Republican could win statewide.

“One year after abandoning the job the people of Pinellas County elected him to do, David Jolly has changed his mind and is returning to run in the district he argued ‘no Republican can win,’” Tant said in a statement Friday. “Jolly’s lack of commitment and principle are exactly what Pinellas County residents would expect from a Washington lobbyist who is only interested in furthering his political career. Florida Democrats look forward to sending David Jolly back to K Street in November.”

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Todd Wilcox blasts David Jolly on calling for lobbying ban – even though he said it nearly a year ago

Since declaring his candidacy for  his first run for Congress in late 2013, David Jolly has to had to hear from his critics that he’s a creature of the Washington Establishment.

Jolly spent 11 years working with Congressman Bill Young, the last six as his general counsel. In 2007 he left join the Washington, D.C. firm Van Scoyoc Associates as a lobbyist, and in 2011, he left Van Scoyoc to open his own firm, Three Bridges Advisors.

Now he’s running as a Washington reformer in a bid for the GOP nomination for senate in Florida, and says he now believes that members of Congress should not be allowed to go back into the lobbying world after their time in Congress is over.

“Personally, I feel that for members of congress, there should be a lifetime ban,” Jolly told New York City radio talk-show Bill Samuels on 970 am Sunday morning. “Once you hold the office, I think there’s enough respect due the office that members of congress really shouldn’t engage in lobbying once they leave.”

Jolly was asked by Samuels to appear on his radio show to discuss his legislative proposal known as the STOP Act.  The bill would ban federal office holders from directly asking for campaign contributions. It’s been derided as a gimmick by his GOP senate opponents, but has won praise from several editorial boards around the country, and was featured last weekend on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

Members of Congress and senior staffers are prohibited from making lobbying contacts or communications with former colleagues for a time after leaving their government post. For senators, the period is two years; for House members, one. However, that law has been stretched, if not outright violated in recent years.  A joint study published by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Sunlight Foundation in January of 2015 revealed that of the 104 former federal legislators and staffers whose restrictions ended in time for the opening of the 114th Congress, 29 were already in government relations,”public affairs,” or employed as counsel to lobbying-oriented law firms. But only 13 of them are formally registered as lobbyists.

Jolly’s stance mirrors on banning congress from lobbying is a position that one of his GOP senate opponents, defense contractor Todd Wilcox,  laid out as part of his plan to end “career politicians” earlier this year . Wilcox has hammered Jolly for his lobbying past.

“Welcome aboard, Congressman!” Wilcox emailed to FloridaPolitics.com. “I hope this means he’ll consider supporting the rest of my Plan to End Career Politicians as well. I won’t hold my breath though, seeing as how Congressman Jolly has been on both sides of the coin when it comes to cleaning up Washington – he wants everyone to stop fundraising, yet he attended a fundraiser on Friday. Today he wants everyone to stop lobbying, yet his staff tried to erase his time as a lobbyist from his Wikipedia page. I’ve got whiplash just trying to keep up with this guy’s hypocrisy.”

The Jolly camp fired back immediately.

“Welcome to old news, Todd,” responded Sarah Bascom, Jolly’s campaign spokesperson. “Congressman Jolly is flattered that Wilcox is following Jolly’s leadership on this idea.  Would he like to sign onto the STOP Act as well? It may help his listless campaign to take a bold stand, instead of just peddling petty anger.”

In fact, Jolly came out last July to announce he was supportive of a proposal by Jeb Bush to ban former members of Congress from lobbying for six years, and declared to the Tampa Bay Times at that time that,”I don’t believe that any member actually should serve as a lobbyist.”

“Rep. Jolly believes Members of Congress are given a special honor to serve, to hold the public trust, and they have a constitutional responsibility to honor the founders’ design,” Bascom continued. “Rep. Jolly does not believe former Members should lobby and announced nearly a year ago he would never do so.”

Wilcox referenced two incidents involving the Jolly senate campaign in his statement. His comment about a Jolly fundraising appearance in Washington on Friday came after the Pinellas Representative got into a dispute with the National Republican Congressional Campaign, who accused him of lying on 60 Minutes by claiming he was told he had to spend four hours a day to fundraise. However, Jolly has never said that the STOP Act would prohibit member of Congress from attending fundraisers – the bill ”would prohibit federal officeholders from directly soliciting political contributions.  Elected federal officials would still be permitted to attend fundraisers and speak to donors.

The Wikipedia reference was to a story that BuzzFeed broke last month about a Jolly campaign official deleting part of his Wikipedia page, including references to his lobbying past.

Also on New York City radio, Jolly reiterated his comment that he said on Morning Joe last week that he prefers the “British model” when it comes to regulating political television advertising. The United Kingdom bans paid TV and radio advertising on any ads on matters of “political or industrial controversy.” It’s one reason why their political campaigns are radically less expensive than American contests.

Jolly says that because Congress funds PBS to the tune of $120 million annually, they should provide free airtime for candidates.

“What if we had candidate hours made available to legitimate candidates beginning 45 days out or 60 days out or 90 days out where voters who wanted the truth from candidates, and the ability to hear from candidates, would have a destination to have that,” he told Samuels. “So let’s take these 28-second hit ads that the American public are sick and tired of, let’s get them off TV. That would take out a lot of their cost drivers of current campaigns.”

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Charlie Crist goes after Mark Bircher in fundraising note

Congressional District 13 Democratic hopeful Charlie Crist is coming out swinging against Republican Mark Bircher, in advance of Bircher’s formal kickoff campaign announcement Tuesday night.

As this website reported Monday, Bircher, the retired Marine Corps Reserve brigadier general who finished third in the Republican race for Pinellas County’s 13th Congressional District race in January 2014, will hold his first event as a candidate for the 2016 CD 13 race Tuesday night in Clearwater.

That prompted Crist, who announced in October that he would enter the Pinellas County congressional race, to fire off this missive to supporters Tuesday morning:

“Before I tell you what’s at stake, I do want to commend my new opponent on his military service to our country. Public service, especially military service, is what allows us to have these debates.

“But, here’s the deal. Mark Bircher is about as Tea Party as it gets.

“He wants Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act repealed.

“You read that right.

“Medicare. Social Security. And the Affordable Care Act. Repealed.

“That’s unconscionable.”

Crist then follows up by making the ask.

“How do you want to welcome him to the race? How about a contribution, of any amount, to the right side of history?’

Bircher is extremely conservative, which made it a challenge for him in his first bid for electoral office last year against fellow Republicans David Jolly and Kathleen Peters. The district has now become more Democratic-leaning with redistricting, making it a challenge for any Republican to win the seat that was held by the late Bill Young for over four decades.

Crist is running against former Obama Defense Department adviser Eric Lynn in the CD 13 Democratic primary.

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Mark Bircher becomes the first Republican to enter CD 13 contest

Mark Bircher has filed paperwork to run for the 13th Congressional District seat in 2016, becoming the first Republican to do so. He’s the retired Marine Corps Reserve brigadier general who finished third in the district’s Republican primary in early 2014 to succeed the late Bill Young.

The 62-year-old Seminole resident and commercial airline pilot had never run for political office until he entered the special primary election in late 2013. He lost to David Jolly with about 25 percent of the vote. State Rep. Kathleen Peters finished in second place.

If the odds were formidable against Bircher last year, the challenge will grow after Wednesday’s Florida Supreme Court decision validating new district lines that make it a much more Democratic-friendly seat. That was a major factor for Jolly’s decision this year to skip a re-election bid to instread run for U.S. Senate.

Bircher’s politics are very conservative. He’s passionate to reduce federal spending.

“The states created the federal government for one purpose: to serve the interest of the states,” he said in 2013. “Printing money, common defense, foreign policy, and the post office.”

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker has been said to be considering running for the seat on the Republican side. He’s expected to decide by next month.

Any Republican who comes out of the Aug. 30 primary likely will be considered an underdog in the race, based on how much more Democratic-leaning the district is expected be with the new CD 13 map.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist and Eric Lynn, a former adviser in the Pentagon for President Barack Obama, have already declared their candidacies for the Democratic nomination.

Attempts to speak with Bircher on Wednesday were unsuccessful. An official close to him told FloridaPolitics.com that he’s out of town, to return next week.

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Habitat for Humanity dedicates 340th Pinellas home

Yesterday marked the 340th home dedication for Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County.

A three bedroom, two bathroom house on 3rd Avenue N., in St. Petersburg, will now be home to the Engle family: Mary Anne, a local small-business owner who recently earned her U.S. citizenship, and her two teenage sons.

Habitat has been operating in Pinellas County since 1985. Its homeownership program revolves around building homes with volunteer community members, then selling those homes — for no profit — to households who Habitat believes otherwise could not afford to own a home.

To complete the program, an individual must attend 13 homeowners’ classes, complete at least 250 sweat-equity hours, and have enough saved up for closing costs, which are about $500, and for the first year of home insurance, which runs between $1,000 and $1,500.

“Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell them,  certainly I can, then get busy and find out how to do it,’” commented Mary Anne as she thanked everyone involved in helping her become a Pinellas County homeowner.

Habitat’s homeownership program has turned into such a success due in part to its long-term affordability design. Habitat homes are financed with a zero-interest 25-to-35-year mortgage, which,  depending on the value of the land, will cost those living in a 3-bedroom Habitat home — as the Engle family will be doing — between $664 to $720 monthly, which includes taxes and insurance.

The Engle home — like all Habitat homes — is ENERGY STAR certified, meaning that it’s in accordance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for helping businesses and individuals “save money and protect the climate through superior energy efficiency.”

One of the benefits of the Engle home’s ENERGY STAR certifications is a solar water heater.

“It’ll keep your energy bills very low,” said Duke Energy’s Joe Triolo.

A representative of U.S. Rep. David Jolly — Stephani Lavely — was also in attendance to officially recognize the completion of the Engle family home, as well as to present the family with a flag from the nation’s capitol.

“[Congressman Jolly] is a very big supporter of this program,” said Lavely, “as was his predecessor, Congressman Bill Young.”

Jolly, according to Habitat, has either been at, or sent a representative to, each of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County’s home dedications since taking office.

St. Petersburg City Councilmember Amy Foster was also scheduled to be in attendance, but was a no-show.

In-kind donors to the Engle home include Duke Energy, Schnieder Electric, Dan Powers P.E., Innovation Cabinetry, Whirlpool Corporation, Valpak, Valspar, and Andrea Stark Home.

Sponsors include Blueprint for Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County and Chase Bank.

For more information on Habitat’s Pinellas homeownership program, visit habitatpinellas.org.

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Ken Welch latest Democrat to embrace Charlie Crist’s congressional candidacy

Considering he was at Charlie Crist‘s pitch two weeks ago to run for Congress, it was no surprise Wednesday when the Crist campaign said it now has Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch‘s backing.

Charlie Crist has been standing up for our values his whole life, even when it wasn’t easy,” Welch says in a prepared statement from the former governor’s campaign. “I’ve known Charlie for years – he’s a man of the people, and I know he will move us forward and get things done. We should send someone to Washington who will lead and effectively represent all of Pinellas County – that’s why I’m supporting Charlie Crist.”

At times through the four decades when the late Bill Young ruled Congressional District 13, Welch himself was considered a possible candidate for the seat. Welch always insisted he wouldn’t run against Young, because of his service for all of Pinellas County.

Since Young died two years ago, though, it’s been higher profile Democrats who’ve run: Alex Sink in 2014, and now Crist for 2016.

Welch joins Sink, Kathy Castor and St. Pete City Councilwoman Darden Rice in rallying around Crist’s candidacy.

Crist is running against former Obama Defense Department adviser Eric Lynn in the Democratic primary. No Republican has officially entered the contest, which because of redistricting is expected to heavily skew Democratic once the Florida Supreme Court gives its imprimatur to the newly configured district.

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Email insights: Eric Lynn plays on work with Barack Obama to rake in contributions

Eric Lynn is asking for support in his bid for Congress in 2016. In an email sent to supporters Wednesday, Lynn plays on his work on President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns and administration.

“From 2007 until last year, I had the honor and privilege to work for President Barack Obama,” Lynn wrote. “I was proud to be one of the first hires for his historic presidential campaign and I was honored to serve as a senior adviser on National Security in his administration at the Pentagon.”

In the email, Lynn touts a statement from Obama.

“Eric was a trusted adviser on national security issues to the first campaign and at the Pentagon,” Obama said.

The email suggests donations of $10, $25, $100 or $250. Donors can also choose to donate a different amount.

Lynn is running for Congress against fellow Democrat Charlie Crist, who recently announced his candidacy.

Lynn has already raised $500,000 while Crist, having just entered the race, has not yet posted any fundraising totals.

The two are running to replace Congressional District 13 Rep. David Jolly, who is running for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat.

A Republican has not yet entered the race. Many speculate that former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker may jump into the race on the Republican ticket.

In the Democratic primary, Lynn is seen as the more progressive candidate while Crist is considered more moderate. Crist was Florida governor as a Republican. He then ran for U.S. Senate as an independent. Most recently he ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat against Gov. Rick Scott.

Both Lynn and Crist are St. Pete natives.

The district has been a Republican stronghold for more than four decades, but because the state Supreme Court ruled CD 13 was among those unfairly drawn, it now includes South St. Pete and parts of downtown, swinging it to a district favoring Democrats.

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Mitch Perry Report for 10.22.15 — Freedom Caucus hearts Paul Ryan?

Today could be an interesting day locally and nationally, or it could just be another day of unfulfilled hype: The St. Pete City Council gets together once again to decide on proposals that would allow the Tampa Bay Rays to talk to officials in Hillsborough County, a subject we’ve visited more than a few times over the past five years or so.

And in Washington, Hillary Clinton goes before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. It’s supposed to last for at least eight hours.

Meanwhile, John Boehner may just be able to become a civilian by Halloween, as was his goal when he announced last month that he’d had enough Sturm and Drang as Speaker of the House and was calling it a political career.

Paul Ryan met with the House Freedom Caucus last night. Those are the Tea Party folks in the House who continue to back Daniel Webster, and are considered to be the biggest “disrupters” in the GOP conference, the folks who David Jolly would say aren’t into governing.

After three different votes last night, Politico reports that Ryan did not reach the 80 percent of members needed from the Freedom Caucus to deliver the endorsement that he said he needed to run. An official statement said “a supermajority of the House Freedom Caucus has voted to support” Ryan.

While the former GOP vice-presidential nominee seems to be the consensus pick of the entire Republican conference, it’s fascinating to hear the criticism that’s been floating his way over the past week or so. Conservatives are focusing on Ryan’s stances on immigration and trade, which they say aren’t in the mainstream of conservative Republicans today.

He’s also being bashed for receiving praise from Democrats, heaven forbid. Yesterday New York U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley said he’s worked with Ryan and could do so if he was House Speaker, but “Whether or not he will actually work with the Democrats to move an agenda … has more to do with whatever deal he makes or will make with the House Freedom Caucus.”

“The Freedom Caucus will totally marginalize themselves, isolate themselves and show they’re out of touch with reality and it will be disastrous for the Republican Party and the country,” New York U.S. Rep. Peter King told reporters yesterday. “If it’s not Paul Ryan, I think it’s a disaster.”

It does look like it’s going to be Ryan. Expect more think pieces about how he’s a different type of Speaker and politician, because he’s got young kids whom he admits he wants to be around on weekends.

In other news…

Mike Murphy, Jeb Bush’s man over at his super PAC Right to Rise, talks incredibly confidently about his man’s prospects for the GOP nomination in an interview published by Bloomberg Politics. Murphy also takes more than a few shots at Marco Rubio in the process.

President Obama says he’ll remain neutral, thanks very much, in the Democratic primary in Pinellas County’s congressional race between Charlie Crist and Eric Lynn.  

Meanwhile, Alex Sink comes out in support of Crist.

The Hillsborough County Commission becomes the latest local government/business entity to endorse a Cuban consulate in Tampa.

Apparently, it’s personal for David Jolly regarding Charlie Crist’s candidacy. The current CD 13 congressman blasted Crist once again on Wednesday, this time referring to an incident that he says took place between Crist and the late Bill Young some 18 years ago.

More Republicans think Donald Trump will be their presidential nominee next year.

Joe Biden dropped out of the Democratic presidential race yesterday, even before he actually entered it. A poll released yesterday by the University of North Florida indicates that was a good call by the vice president.

Is long-time Central Florida Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica vulnerable due to redistricting next year? The DCCC believes so, and lays out the reasons why in a memo.

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