Charlie Crist: Federal investigation needed into Jordan Park finances

Saying he was shocked by the deplorable living conditions, former Gov. Charlie Crist said the feds need to investigate the finances at the publicly owned Jordan Park Apts. in south St. Petersburg.

Charlie Crist Jordan ParkCrist spent Thursday morning touring the complex and listening to details of the conditions at the complex. He heard tales of rats, roaches and mold. He saw outdated, rusty appliances that needed replacing.

“It’s intolerable. It’s unconscionable. It’s not to be tolerated,” Crist said of the living conditions. “They’re deplorable.”

Crist said “the unanswered question” is what’s happening to tax money and tenant rents that are being paid to help keep the complex in good shape.

“You have to wonder where it’s going,” he said.

An investigation is called for he said.

“I would do it my first day in office – call for an investigation,” he said.

Charlie Crist Jordan ParkCrist, a Democrat, is running for the Congressional District 13 seat currently held by Rep. David Jolly. Crist will face the winner of the Republican primary, either Jolly or Mark Bircher, in the Nov. 8 election.

Crist’s tour of Jordan Park came after news reports of the living conditions at the complex. Among the complaints are the presence of rats, roaches, mold and mildew in apartments.

“My issue is the rats,” Jordan Park resident Carolyn Peters said. She said she can hear them above her head: “They act like they are playing football.”

But it’s not just rodents, and bad appliances. Residents say management comes into apartments for inspections with no notice, sometimes setting off alarm systems. And management, they said, has them fearful they will be tossed out if they openly talk about conditions.

This is not the first time conditions at Jordan Park have caused complaints. Conditions were so bad in the late 1990s that the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which owns the 24 acres the development is built on, received a $27 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Charlie Crist Jordan Park The original park was razed and the current complex with 237 units in 104 buildings was constructed. Construction was complete in 2002. Rents are subsidized and tax credits are also provided for the running of the park.

Residents said they have complained both to management and to the St. Petersburg Housing Authority but got little to no response. That is until Augie Ribeiro came calling.

Ribeiro, who is running in the Democratic primary for State House District 19, paid for an inspector to come look at the complex.

The inspector was not able to finish a full inspection because officials told him to get off the property, said Terri Lipsey Scott, chair of the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. The museum is located on Jordan Park property.

But Shelton Home Inspections was able to issue a partial report. Among the findings: leaks in the plumbing pipes that allow waste water to drain into the crawl space under at least one apartment. The inspector added, “We noted an open cast iron drain pipe that needs to be sealed to prevent rodents and sewer gas from entering the structure.”

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Mitch Perry Report for 7.20.16 – Vetting Paul Manafort

A political convention is often called “the Super Bowl” of politics, and that’s true in this respect: There are a sh*tload of reporters on hand around, and not that many storylines that are unique. Hence, the constant discussion of Melania Trump’s speech on Monday night.

Donald Trump’s top campaign aide, Paul Manafort, said early Tuesday that the claims that the possible next First Lady in America had cribbed portions of Michelle Obama’s 2008 RNC was all about …..Hillary Clinton?

“This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down,” Manafort said.

The absurdity of that sentence should make people look at Manafort a little closer. What is his experience in U.S. politics? Yes, we know that he helped out Jerry Ford stave off the Ronald Reagan insurgency at the ’76 convention in Kansas City. And he helped in the “Morning in America’ Ronald Reagan convention in Dallas in August of 1984, as well as shaping Bob Dole’s San Diego RNC in 1996.

But how versed is he in running a presidential campaign? I had to laugh at loud at Mr. Conventional Wisdom, Mark Halperin, saying on MSNBC that Manafort is as “experienced a hand as there is in Republican politics.” That line was so absurd that Joe Scarborough had to challenge him on that, saying that he had never heard of Manafort when Trump hired him earlier this year.

Manafort and his lobbying firm has made a fortune fronting for a group of clients once referred to as the “torturers’ lobby.”That, we know. His experience in running presidential campaigns? Not so much.

In other news..

In the seemingly ultra competitive House District 68 Democratic primary in Pinellas County, Ben Diamond has begun airing a TV campaign, the same day that rival Eric Lynn did as well.

The Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic superPAC created by aides to Harry Reid, have begun airing ads in Florida on behalf of Patrick Murphy.

Arthenia Joyner is backing Sean Shaw in the House District 61 race in Hillsborough County.

An internal poll conducted for Charlie Crist shows the Democrat leading David Jolly 50%-38% in CD 13. Other polls show it much closer, however.

Tampa City Council District 7 candidate Luis Viera has received the endorsement from Tampa Firefighters Local 754. Some of his opponents are not pleased, and not because they didn’t get the endorsement.

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New internal poll for Charlie Crist shows him up by 12% over David Jolly in CD 13

Charlie Crist has a 12-point lead over GOP incumbent David Jolly in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, 50 percent to 38 percent, according to a poll released on Tuesday by the Crist campaign.

The survey was conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, a Democratic pollster who worked on Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

The pollsters say that Crist’s high name recognition is a big factor in his double-digit lead. Crist enjoys 89 percent name ID across the Pinellas County based district, while Jolly’s name is recognized by only 61 percent of those surveyed.

The survey also shows Crist up by 14 percentage points among those registered as No Party Affiliation, 24 percent among self-identified independents, and 19 points among self-identified moderates.

The polls have varied widely in the district, whose boundaries have changed substantially due to a Florida Supreme Court mandate to the Legislature to do so. It has been a very evenly balanced district between Republicans and Democrats for years, but now has a much stronger Democratic party leaning to it.

That’s one factor in why Jolly opted to pass on reelection last year, saying that “no Republican” could win it.

However, he had a change of heart last month. After it was apparent that Marco Rubio was going to enter into a reelection bid for his U.S. Senate race, Jolly dropped out of the senate race, and announced in late June he would indeed run again for his Senate seat.

An internal poll for the Jolly campaign conducted by McLaughlin & Associates just days before he entered the race showed Jolly up by the exact same amount, 50 percent to 38 percent. A St. Pete Polls survey conducted June 10 had the two men tied at 44 percent each.

Last week the House Majority PAC announced that they had reserved another $1.4 million plus of advertising that they would spend in the Tampa Bay market on behalf of the Crist campaign in the waning weeks of the November election.

That buy was noted by a Jolly spokesperson on Tuesday. “Leave it to Charlie to try to own two sides of the same issue,” said Sarah Bascom. “On one hand his Washington puppet masters just had to reserve $2.5 million to protect him but on the other he’s touting a J.V. poll trying to convince his supporters he has a strong lead, despite the majority of polling that has Jolly in the lead.”

Anzalone Liszt Grove Research conducted 501 live telephone interviews with likely November 2016 general election between July 12-17, 2016, including 45 percent of the survey completed among cell phone interviews. Expected margin of sampling error for they survey is ±4.4% with a 95% confidence level.

 

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Charlie Crist takes time to hear from small business owners

Running for political office after a (not intended) six-year exile, Charlie Crist conducted a one-hour listening session with a group of approximately 20 Pinellas County small businessmen and women on Wednesday afternoon in Clearwater.

Among the things he learned was how onerous it is to file the paperwork for a Small Business Administration loan, and how difficult it is for some small businesses to get credit, nearly a decade after the financial meltdown of 2008.

“You’re all small business people and owners, and you really have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in this economy,” Crist said in kicking-off the hour-long meeting, held in a conference room in the offices of the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce. He said he wanted to know their issues, so if and when he’s elected to Congress this fall, he could attempt to make their lives a little easier. “Your ideas can be very empowering, and your thoughts are important. I’m asking you to employ me so I can fight for you in Washington.”

Crist has been running for Congress in Florida’s 13th District since last fall, but he hasn’t held too many press availabilities since that time, where at one point he looked like his toughest match to win the Democratic primary against now former opponent Eric Lynn. Lynn’s now out, and GOP incumbent David Jolly is back in, and it won’t be an easy contest for the former Republican turned independent turned Democrat.

Amy Terrell with Amy’s Beauty Supply has recently moved her business to 22nd Avenue South. She said she believes there are many opportunities to apply for a grant, but because she works as a nurse in the daytime, she doesn’t have the time to do the research to find out. Crist said that having somebody help with grant writing might be good service in a congressional office.

Leslie-Ann Ciccone is co-owner of Swah-rey, a dessert bar which opened last fall in St. Pete’s burgeoning Grand Central District. She said filling out the forms to qualify for an SBA loan was akin to a full-time job, and she ultimately discarded that notion and used her credit cards to set up her business. From a local standpoint, she said her main issue was with permitting with the city of St. Petersburg, which she termed “brutal.”

Ciccone said the biggest issue locally was with city inspectors who always had the final say. She said though everything was built to approved code, the inspector she was dealing with still didn’t approve, and she had to continually redo the plans, costing her more money and time. “If we’re being fair, if I have approved plans and I build to them, you should approve me based on those plans.”

Crist said his congressional office might be helpful in helping entrepreneurs with filling out their SBA loan applications. He also said his office might be able to work with local governments and “utilize persuasion” to find a different inspector with the city.

Although Crist appeared to be hearing the anecdote for the first time, that was not the case. Shortly after the meeting concluded, he sent out a fundraising email with a link to his Facebook page, where Ciccone is featured in a short video talking about her problems with the government in getting her business established.

Not everyone is having a hard time getting a loan. Mario Farias with Farias Consulting said he recently went to his bank for new project and was approved within 24 hours.

Chamber officials said the one of the biggest concerns that they’ve heard from businesses for the past few months are new labor rules that will increase the salary cutoff for overtime pay. Currently, salaried employees who earn more than $23,660 a year and meet other criteria are not entitled by law to overtime pay, but that threshold is scheduled to roughly double, to $47,476, on Dec. 1.

Some of the attendees were invited by the Clearwater Chamber, who were asked by the Crist campaign to identify some small business owners to attend, while others were contacted by Vito Sheeley, the campaign’s outreach director.

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Mitch Perry Report for 7.12.16 – Will the FBI open another investigation into Hillary Clinton?

While there should be smiles in Portsmouth, New Hampshire later today when Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have their unity rally, some things to contemplate about Ms. Clinton, a week after the FBI announced that they will not indict her in the investigation of her email server while serving as secretary of state.

A majority of Americans think Comey let her off easily. Fifty-six percent of Americans disapprove of Comey’s decision to exonerate her, according to a Washington Post survey released Monday, while 35 percent approve.

This poll includes liberals who think that Clinton’s behavior here was a bit shady. Over 3 in 10 Democrats disapprove of Director Comey’s recommendation against charges for Clinton (31 percent), and the same percentage says the issue makes them worry about Clinton’s presidential responsibility. Over 4 in 10 liberals say the issue raises concerns about how Clinton might handle responsibilities as president, as do 36 percent of non-white Americans and 56 percent of those under age 40.

If you watched Comey’s 4.5 hour performance in front of the House Oversight Committee last Thursday, you saw how chairman Jason Chaffetz asked Comey if he had investigated on whether Mrs. Clinton had lied under oath regarding her emails when she gave her 10 hour performance before a committee investigating her actions in the Benghazi tragedy last fall. Come said he needed a referral – Chaffetz immediately responded, “You’ll get one in a few hours.”

Well, it took a few days, but in fact, the Oversight Committee last night referred the matter formally to the FBI to investigate.  The NY Times reports this morning that while legal analysts think it’s unlikely the bureau would ultimately find enough evidence to prosecute her for lying to Congress, “there might be enough to warrant opening an investigation. That alone could prove damaging to her campaign.”

To say the least. While supporters of Mrs. Clinton will maintain that the Republicans just let go of their obsession to go after her, another investigation will not help her out, folks. It won’t. This isn’t like the Republicans when they impeached Bill Clinton , and clearly overreached. The public knew the facts there, and saw the Republicans were being bullies. Here? The fact is she’s got serious trust issues.

In other news…

SD 19 candidate Augie Riberio pours in $300,000 of his own cash to kick start his very late entrance into that race.

Jeb Bush emerged from exile last night to condemn Donald Trump once again, telling voters that they’ll only be disappointed if he actually gets elected in November.

Bush says he’ll “actively campaign for Pinellas County CD 13 Congressman David Jolly this fall.

House District 61 Democratic candidate Sean Shaw talks about working with the GOP if elected, guns in the Legislature, and getting “the talk” about how to handle issues with the police from his father, the late Leander Shaw, the first African-American named to the Florida Supreme Court.

The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission is poised to raise the fines incurred by Uber and Lyft drivers in the county, much to the distress of state Senator Jeff Brandes, a leading PTC critic.

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Jeb Bush will campaign for David Jolly

Jeb Bush has formally endorsed David Jolly in his race for reelection to his seat in Florida’s 13th Congressional District in Pinellas County, and says he’ll campaign for him this fall.

“I’m excited David Jolly decided to run for his congressional seat and I plan on actively campaigning for his re-election,” said Bush in a statement sent out by the Jolly campaign. “Representative Jolly has done what any congressman should do and that’s do the job that he was elected to do. I am proud to support him in this race.”

Jolly backed Bush in his unsuccessful bid for president that ended earlier this year. He said it was an honor to receive such “enthusiastic support” from the former Florida Governor.

“Jeb worked tirelessly for all Floridians as Governor and especially for children throughout Pinellas and the entire nation as an advocate for education reform,” Jolly said in the statement. “We share this commitment to education, particularly when it comes to improving early childhood education and student readiness. I look forward to working with Governor Bush and families throughout Pinellas on these and other important priorities.”

Despite raising more than $100 million during his campaign for president over the last year, Bush had trouble breaking through with the Republican electorate during the race, and dropped out after finishing a disappointing fourth in the South Carolina primary in February. However, he remains a superstar in GOP politics in Florida, and it shouldn’t be much of a problem for him to campaign against Crist, who succeeded him in the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee back in 2006.

Crist left the GOP to run and lose as an independent to Marco Rubio in the race for U.S. Senate in 2010. After that election, Bush said Crist had “abandoned” the Republican Party and was “not welcome” to return.

In fact, Crist never did return to the GOP. He officially switched to become a Democrat in late 2012, and became the Florida Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2014, where he narrowly lost to Rick Scott.

 

 

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Marco Rubio leads Carlos Beruff 71% to 7% in new AIF poll

Marco Rubio holds a 60-plus point lead over Carlos Beruff.

That’s according to a new Associated Industries of Florida poll of likely Republican primary voters. The survey — conducted on June 27 and June 28, one week after Rubio announced he was running for re-election — found 71 percent of respondents said they would support Rubio in the primary.

Seven percent of voters said they would vote for Beruff, while 18 percent said they were still undecided.

Rubio announced last week he was running for a second term in the U.S. Senate, reversing a previous decision to return to private life when his term ended. The decision cleared the field, with Republicans Ron DeSantis, David Jolly, Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox all bowing out of the race.

Beruff, a Manatee County homebuilder who has poured a significant amount of his own wealth into the race already, said he would continue to run for the seat. He has said he is prepared to put another $10 million to $15 million more into the race.

Rubio has received the backing of several top Republicans in Florida, including Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, and former Governor Jeb Bush. He’s also received support from the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Sen. Ted Cruz.

One top Republican that hasn’t thrown his support behind him? Gov. Rick Scott.

In a Facebook post last week, Scott stopped short of endorsing Beruff, but said the “Florida voters deserve the opportunity to consider his candidacy alongside Senator Rubio and make their own decision.”

While the AIF polling memo notes that Rubio’s entry into the race creates an entirely different field than just a few weeks ago, it also points out Rubio was leaps and bounds ahead of Republicans even before he got into the race.

When AIF conducted a similar survey in April, 50 percent of Republicans said they would support Rubio. The April survey found 5 percent of respondents would support Beruff, while 26 percent said they were undecided. Jolly was in second in the April survey by AIF, with 8 percent support.

The AIF poll is in line with another poll released this week. A survey conducted for News 13/Bay News 9 found 63 percent of Republicans would vote for Rubio in the Aug. 30 primary, while 11 percent said they planned to support Beruff. In that survey, 13 percent of respondents were undecided.

The most recent AIF poll surveyed 750 likely voters on June 27 and June 28. The survey has a margin of error of 4 percent.

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House District 68 candidates show little difference on the issues in Tiger Bay forum

Perhaps the first thing to know about the three candidates who are vying to become the next state Representative of House District 68 in Pinellas County is that none of them awoke on New Years Day this year with the dream of winning this seat.

Republican JB Bensmihen spent most of 2015 preparing to run against Democrat Lois Frankel in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, and didn’t opt to enter the HD 68 contest until April – actually making him the first candidate to declare his interest in the seat.

HD 68 Democratic incumbent Dwight Dudley was expected to run for a third-term, but unexpectedly announced in late April that he would not run for reelection (he’s now running to be a judge in Pinellas). Just a few hours later, St. Petersburg based attorney Ben Diamond then became the first Democrat to enter the race. He was joined a week later by Eric Lynn, who had spent much of 2015 raising money as the lone Democratic congressional candidate to oppose GOP incumbent David Jolly in Florida’s 13th Congressional District in Pinellas County. But with the emergence of former Governor Charlie Crist in the race, Lynn opted to pull out of that race and challenge Diamond in the Democratic primary later this summer.

Got all of that? The three men gathered at the St. Pete Yacht Club on Wednesday for a Suncoast Tiger Bay Forum, where there was a lot of agreement, and not much dissent exchanged in the nearly hour long forum. That’s in part because Bensmihen is a moderate Republican who agreed with the two Democrats on issues like the need for sensible gun control legislation, abortion rights and Medicaid expansion in Tallahassee.

Lynn agreed with some state Democrats who have called for a special session to address gun violence in the wake of the slaughter in Orlando earlier this month. He acknowledged that with a GOP-led majority, however, the Legislature is likely to do very little on the issue, “but every single problem in our country that we have had to solve in the last hundred years, you need to take steps at chipping away at that issue.”

Bensmihen 47, has achieved a considerable amount during his career working in the home care industry, especially considering that he’s grown up with cerebral palsy. His true handicap at the moment, however, is that he’s only been a regular resident of Pinellas County for just a few months, Bensmihen was hit by moderator Peter Schorsch (the proprietor of this website) on his lack of roots in the community, and embarrassed him when he was put on the spot to name local elected officials, such who was the immediate predecessor to Mayor Rick Kriseman (he incorrectly said Rick Baker), or who served on the Pinellas County Commission? (He didn’t mention a single member).

“The issue is not that I moved from one part of the state, to another part of the state,” Bensmihen replied. “I’m still running for a state house seat in Florida,” adding that he entered the race when Dudley was the only candidate on the ballot. He also attempted to deflect the question by saying that Diamond didn’t appear to have a problem supporting a candidate like Alex Sink in the special CD 13 election in 2014, despite the fact that she had previously never lived there (Diamond served as Sink’s general counsel when she served as the state’s CFO), and that Lynn had been gone from St. Petersburg for many years before returning in 2015 to run in the CD 13 contest (a campaign staffer for Lynn says that he actually returned back to St. Pete in 2014 to work on consulting and to raise his family).

Lynn, a former Senior Advisor in the Pentagon during the first six years  of the Barack Obama administration, has shifted hundreds of thousands of dollars that he raised as a congressional candidate to a political action committee, as is allowed under Florida election law. But, he was asked, is it fair?

“I have always said that we need changes in campaign finance reform,”Lynn said. “I think it’s wrong that anyone in the state of Florida can set up a political committee to take unlimited funds. Those funds should be limited in the same way that funds from a federal candidate should be limited. But currently, the law states that a political committee can accept unlimited funds.”

Diamond pounced.

“I don’t have a Washington war chest in this campaign, and just because something may be legal, doesn’t mean it’s right,” he said, adding that perhaps that if Lynn is as concerned with using his PAC money as his comments suggested, “perhaps he and I could enter into some sort of discussion about not doing that.” The two did not appear to be discussing that after the event.

Diamond has served on the PSTA board the past couple of years, and said that the advent of Uber and Lyft made this the “most transformational time” ever when it comes to transportation planning since the creation of the automobile. He said he was proud of “incremental” changes that have been made locally, such as Express Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service in St. Petersburg’s Central Avenue corridor that is scheduled to begin in 2019, thanks to funding from the Legislature and Washington.

Lynn attributed part of the failure of the 2014 Greenlight Pinellas transit tax was that it’s critics were successful in labeling it as, well, a tax. “In Tallahassee we have to fight for transportation advancement, and make sure we are explaining to the voters what it actually does for the community, and not allowed to be tagged as a tax that is not needed,” he said.

Another issue that all three candidates seemed to be on the same page was on their emphasis for funding public education, though how they would find the extra money and get it through the GOP-led Legislature wasn’t exactly clear. Nor, for that matter, was the fact that the candidates all said they would work to get Medicaid expanded in 2017, an issue that Democrats (and the business establishment) have been unsuccessful in persuading both houses in Tallahassee to pass since 2013.

The Democratic primary between Diamond and Lynn takes place on Aug. 30, with the winner facing Bensmihen in November.

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Endorsement Watch: Florida Retail Federation, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Medical Association, and others issue endorsements

Don Hahnfeldt received the backing of the Florida Medical Association in his bid for House District 33.

The FMA PAC, the political arm of the Florida Medical Association, made the endorsement.

“The FMA PAC is proud to endorse Commissioner Don Hahnfeldt for the Florida House. As a commissioner in Sumter County representing The Villages, he has a unique understanding of the health care needs of many retired Floridians,” said Dr. Chris Pittman, president of the FMA PAC, in a statement. “The FMA looks forward to working with him in the Florida House to improve the health care for not only the retired population, but all citizens in this state.”

Hahnfeldt is vying to replace Republican Rep. Marlene O’Toole in the Florida House.

“Providing the highest quality medical care to all Floridians, especially our children, veterans and retired population, is a top priority for Florida,” said Hahnfeldt. “I look forward to working with the FMA in Tallahassee to ensure the best possible support and cooperation with our healthcare professionals so that they may provide the best medical care services to their patients, as well as, attract additional world-class medical professionals to Florida and encourage our post-secondary students to enter the rewarding field of medicine.”

Dianne Hart received backing of the Florida Retail Federation PAC in her House District 61 race.

“As a small business owner and retailer for more than 30 years, Dianne Hart knows how important our industry is to the success of our state, and will do her part to support her fellow retailers statewide,” said FRF President & CEO Randy Miller. “We look forward to the positive impact she will have on Sunshine State business owners in the Florida House.”

Hart is vying to replace Democrat Rep. Ed Narain in the Florida House. She’ll face Democrats Sean Shaw and Walter Lee Smith in the Aug. 30 primary.

Democrat Francesca Menes received the backing of the Service Employees International Union in her House District 108 bid.

“Francesca Menes is exceedingly qualified to represent the constituents of State House District 108,” SEIU Florida President Monica Russo said. “I am personally a member of this vibrant, multi-cultural district, as are many of our members. She is a rising star and a proven leader on issues that matter to District 108, such as immigration and the Fight for $15. Francesca has years of experiences fighting for us and all of Florida’s working families.”

Menes is vying to replace Democrat Daphne Campbell in the Florida House. She’ll face Marie SterilHenry PatelNadia PierreMoise Duge’Fayola DelicaTaj Collie- EcholesRoy Hardemon and Robert Malone.

 “Over the past 8 years, I have fought alongside the strongest and bravest workers in our communities. From fighting to protect workers from having their wages stolen, to demanding fair wages for those who take care of our elders, disabled and the sick,” said Menes. “I am truly honored by the support from SEIU Florida and its members. I know that together we will build a more equitable society for all workers and for our families. We need better, and we deserve better.”

 

Charlie Crist received the backing of the Florida AFL-CIO in his congressional bid.

“Florida’s and America’s working families need someone who will listen to them in Washington. That’s why the Florida AFL-CIO is proud to stand with Charlie Crist,” said Mike Williams, the president of the Florida AFL-CIO. “Charlie knows that raising the minimum wage, ensuring fair working conditions, and protecting and improving access to affordable health care aren’t just good for people, they’re good for the economy, too. Charlie Crist will be a champion for middle-class families in Congress.”

Crist is running in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Rep. David Jolly announced last week he was dropping his Senate bid, and running for re-election in CD 13.

“I’m humbled by the support of an organization that represents so many of our district’s working families,” said Crist. “From hospitality workers and construction trades to first responders and classroom teachers, I’m grateful to have Pinellas County’s hardest working men and women standing with me. And I’ll stand with them in Congress, to improve middle-class wages, healthcare, and benefits.”

Crist also received support from the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund. The group aims to elect candidates who will implement sound environmental policies.

“Charlie Crist has a long record of action on climate change and conservation in Florida, and he will bring this same dedication to Congress. Throughout his career in public service he has been a leading opponent of drilling off Florida’s coastline because he knows that a healthy environment and strong economy go hand-in-hand,” said LCV Action Fund President Gene Karpinski. “Crist is willing to take on big polluters and has been a vocal advocate for protecting our land and oceans, reducing harmful pollution and expanding our clean energy economy, ensuring we leave our children and grandchildren a clean and healthy planet.”

Crist said he was honored to receive the endorsement, and said if elected he will work to “ensure climate change is finally treated as the economic and national security threat that it is.”

Dennis Baxley has received the backing of two local officials.

Belleview Mayor Christine Dobkowski and Belleview City Commissioner Gary Ernst announced they had endorsed Baxley in his Senate District 12 bid.

“Dennis Baxley respects the values and understands the needs of communities like Belleview,” said Dobkowski. “He is dedicated to growing our economy and defending our liberties. There is no better candidate to serve our community and all of North Central Florida in the Florida Senate than Dennis Baxley.”

Baxley will face Republicans David Gee and Marlene O’Toole in Senate District 12. Write-in candidate Elizabeth Kathryn McNutt has also filed to run for the seat.

“Representative Baxley has been an outstanding leader and community service advocate in our area for the past 40 years,” said Ernst. “I am proud to call him my friend and know that he will make the best Senator for Lake, Marion and Sumter counties.”

Doug Holder has received the backing of the Florida Chamber of Commerce in his Senate District 23 bid.

“As a state representative, Doug Holder consistently championed free-enterprise, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce believes he will bring that same spirit for free enterprise to the Florida Senate,” said Marian Johnson, senior vice president of political strategy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber is proud to endorse Doug Holder for the Florida Senate.”

Holder faces Republicans Greg SteubeRay PilonNora Patterson, and Rick Levine in the Aug. 30 primary. Democrats Frank Alcock and Frank Cirillo are also running.

“I am thrilled to, once again, be endorsed by the Florida Chamber,” said Holder, a state representative, in a statement. “As a small business owner I understand the impact of excessive taxation and burdensome regulation. I know that I can always count on the Florida Chamber to be a partner in protecting Florida businesses.”

Keith Perry has received the backing of the Florida Retail Federation in his Senate District 8 bid.

“Having a candidate like Keith, who understands what it takes to run a business successfully, is vital to ensuring our members and other Florida businesses receive the support they need from their legislators,” said FRF President & CEO Randy Miller. “Keith has the credentials, the knowledge and the passion that will serve business owners well in the Florida Senate.”

Perry a Republican will face Gainesville Democrat in Senate District 8.

Greg Steube received the backing of the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association in his Senate District 23 bid.

“On behalf of the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association, the Board of Directors, the Government Affairs Committee and staff, we are pleased to announce our unanimous endorsement of your candidacy for Senate District 23,” said Jon Mast, chief executive officer MSBIA. “We offer you our support for your campaign and look forward to your victory in both the primary and general elections in 2016.”

Steube faces Republicans Doug HolderRay PilonNora Patterson, and Rick Levine in the Aug. 30 primary. Democrats Frank Alcock and Frank Cirillo are also running.

“I am proud to be endorsed by the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association, I have always fought to reduce regulations and taxes on our businesses,” said Steube. “My goal is simple; to make Florida the best place to thrive and grow your business as reflected by my “A” rating by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and my 2016 – Champions of Economic Freedom designation.”

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Kathy Castor part of House delegation continuing sit-in to demand votes on gun control legislation

Dozens of House Democrats continue to stage a sit-in on the floor of the House chamber Wednesday afternoon, demanding the House Speaker Paul Ryan hold a vote on gun-control legislation in the days leading up to a weeklong congressional break that begins this Friday.

Many members of the Florida delegation were part of the action, with even Senator Bill Nelson sitting down with Tallahassee Representative Gwen Graham for awhile.

The sit-in started with remarks by Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who called out, “Newtown, Aurora, Charleston, San Bernardino, Orlando. What is the tipping point, Mr. Speaker?”

The legislation that Democrats want a vote on would be for expanded background checks and legislation preventing gun sales to suspected terrorists.

“My neighbors are still reeling from the Orlando massacre just over a week ago,” said Tampa Bay area Representative Kathy Castor. “There have been too many tragedies like the Orlando massacre. The House doesn’t need more moments of silence; it needs to speak up instead. We need commonsense solutions on gun safety aimed at protecting our country, communities, families and especially our children,” U.S. Rep. Castor said. “My home state of Florida has some of the weakest gun laws; we lack expanded background checks that would prevent individuals on the terrorist watch list, criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from purchasing guns – the so-called no fly/no buy law we are sitting in for would clearly help fill a big gap in my state.”

“Since Florida’s Republican legislature has refused to stand up to the powerful gun lobby, we must act to keep high-capacity, military-style weapons away from terrorists and others with violent pasts,” Castor added.

“The message is simple – we demand a vote, and number two, we want to close the terrorist gun loophole at a minimum,” said Jupiter Representative and Senate candidate Patrick Murphy, speaking to reporters on a conference call after leaving the House floor.

At one point in the afternoon, Pinellas County Republican Congressman David Jolly visited the House chambers.  Before he did that, Jolly appeared on CNN, where he said he disagreed with the tactics of the Democrats, but agreed with them that GOP House leaders should allow for debate on gun control measures, including his proposal, HR5544, that would ensure there is a no-fly no-buy policy while also ensuring due process and protecting the Second Amendment.

“My fear is that the politics of blame play well in November, and the architects see currency in this in November,” Jolly told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, adding that it wasn’t actually that hard to pass such legislation. Baldwin questioned that statement, it, saying if it was so easy, why did it require the House Democrats to make such a dramatic gesture.

Jolly said that if the Democrats would agree to the due process portions of his legislation, a bill could pass, but also pleaded with his GOP colleagues “to do something. Act in the wake of Orlando. Let’s not play politics with this; it’s heartbreaking.”

Kentucky Democratic Representative John Yarmuth said he agreed with Jolly that it could be an easy fix. “Let’s have the debate. Let’s have the vote. And let the will of the Congress be done.”

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