Mitch Perry Report for 5.3.16 – Only six more months of hearing about Hillary vs.The Donald – every day

Well today’s the Indiana primary, and aren’t you all excited about that?

I didn’t think so. A CNN/ORC poll released  yesterday shows that more than eight of ten Americans believe Hillary Clinton will challenge Donald Trump for president in November. That was taken before Indiana votes today, or Nebraska next week, or California and New Jersey next month.

But it’s still more fun to talk about a contested convention than start talking everyday about a Hillary vs. Donald confrontation, since that’s still a full half-year away!

So enough of this: Will this be it for Ted Cruz tonight, okay? It’s been over for quite awhile for the Texas Senate. But you wouldn’t believe that if you tune into cable news anytime – and why would you, since it’s all about keeping up interest (The Sanders/Clinton race tonight could be close, we should add).

Seriously, I’m sure everyone reading this watches their fair share of CNN, Fox and/or MSNBC. I’m telling you I’m trying to walk away from the flat-screen though, because there’s nothing really that new to learn.

I felt a little wistful watching John Heilemann try to keep the excitement up on his Bloomberg show, “With All Due Respect.” Heilemann was a great writer/reporter for New  York magazine for years. Now he makes $1 million acting like every other pundit on cable. Good for him. Bad for us.

However this race, thanks to  Donald J., has been great for everyone’s ratings (and clicks).

Since the start of the year CNN’s prime-time audience has more than doubled to 435,000 viewers a night in its target demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds, according to Nielsen.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in the fourth quarter last year, CNN’s average price for a 30-second prime-time spot was about $7,000, up from about $5,000 a year earlier. Fox News and MSNBC also have raised prices.

Thank God he survived, and Cruz didn’t, those network honchos are believing. Also a lot of political reporters.

But if it ain’t new, is it really news?

And before we go to the other news of yesterday, a quick shoutout to my sister Michele out in Richmond, Ca.  Happy Birthday!

In other news…

David Jolly, a former lobbyist, said on Sunday that he doesn’t believe that ex-members of Congress should go back into the lobbying game, prompting a response from one of his GOP senate opponents, Todd Wilcox.

Although the business establishment supports the Tampa Bay Express toll lanes project, they’ve kept that support relatively close to the vest in recent months. Not anymore, as they announced the creation of a coalition with a website backing the $3.3 billion proposal. Meanwhile, TBX opponents howled upon learning the news.

Tampa attorney Bob Buesing becomes the first (and only, presumably) Democrat to enter the Senate District 18 seat in Hillsborough County – where he’ll likely face Dana Young in the fall.

Defying his leadership, Sarasota area Congressman Vern Buchanan says he doesn’t care – and is calling for the Congress to fully fund President Obama’s $1.9 billion request to combat the Zika virus.

And while Hillsborough County Commissioners come up with new ideas on where to come up with funding transportation that won’t include a sales tax, County Administrator Mike Merrill just shakes his head.

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.”

Mitch Perry Report for 5.2.16 – Cleveland, meet California

The imagery coming out of California late last week wasn’t extremely alarming, but it was instructive. Protestors, many of them black or brown, went a bit nuts at Donald Trump campaign appearances Thursday night in Orange County on Thursday night and to a lesser extent on Friday in Burlingame, just south of San Francisco (and right near the airport).

It was similar to the sort of images we saw at an ill-fated Trump rally in Chicago last month when violent exchanges between protesters and supporters prompted The Donald to cancel an appearance.

Get prepared to see more of such activism as Trump continues to campaign in the Golden State over the next month.

The cable networks are trying to promote Indiana as the last effort for the #NeverTrump forces. In fact, the race is pretty much over by now. Indiana will just put an exclamation point on the Republican nomination. So how much campaigning will actually go on in California in advance of the June 7 primary is uncertain.

But the activism is just a precursor of what we’ll probably see in Cleveland in July.

Major protests at the political conventions took a hiatus four years ago, after the mass arrests that took place in St. Paul at the 2008 Republican National Convention. That so concerned folks in Tampa that the TPD and security forces put maximum effort into containing such protests in 2012, but the fact remains that activists (pretty much) boycotted Tampa and the DNC confab in Charlotte a week later.

That won’t be the case in Cleveland. Trump’s provocative statements on Muslims and Mexicans may seem dated to some, but not to a lot of folks who truly consider Trump to be a dangerous man and will be disruptive. Yes, Trump may end up “winning” the PR war against unruly protestors, but they won’t be going away.

Incidentally, the Wall Street Journal reports that Trump’s rallies and the protests around them are leaving some cities with huge security bills.

The Journal reports that on March, 15 Trump presidential campaign events cost local authorities more than $300,000 to secure and manage, local police departments and campaign venues. That’s an average of $20,000 in costs per event. Some event sites are billing the campaign for reimbursement, and some have gotten money back.

In other news …

On Friday, the Hillary Clinton campaign announced that Simone Ward, who led the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee over the past year, will he heading her campaign here in Florida.

Who is Tony Khoury, and why he is running for U.S. Senate. Some clues here.

Not that they were ever that close, but David Jolly and an arm of the Republican House caucus have completely ended their relationship. The NRCC called Jolly a liar and accused 60 Minutes of bad journalism in airing a report on the Pinellas County Congressman Stop Act.

Sandy Murman says she believes a plan on transportation (without a sales tax) can still be cobbled together this year in Hillsborough County.

Indie candidate Tony Khoury makes his case for Florida U.S. Senate seat

Tony Khoury describes himself as part the elite 1 percent of earners in America but says, unlike many of his cohorts, he welcomes paying additional taxes for being lucky enough to have so much.

“I still believe I always have to pay my fair share,” which currently for him is at the 39.6 percent level, the highest in the IRS code for individuals.

The 57-year-old Middle Eastern immigrant is an American success story. After arriving in the U.S. at the age of 17, he earned an undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering and a masters in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Miami before he ultimately created two aviation companies.

Now retired, he wants to apply his skills and knowledge into becoming a U.S. Senator for Florida – as a No-Party-Affiliated, or independent, candidate.

“They need new ideas, they need fresh ideas, they need somebody who would not be beholden to either party,” he says if he were elected into what used to be called the “World’s Most Deliberative Body.” To call it his quest quixotic might not be a reach, since his name recognition is virtually zero at this point in the contest.

Then again, surveys by reputable polling firms in Florida show most Floridians have never heard of Ron DeSantis or Patrick Murphy, so maybe it isn’t that exotic. Nevertheless, Khoury certainly isn’t cynical. In fact, when it comes to being a political independent, he’s actually more in sync with where the American electorate appears to going in recent years.

“There’s 3.2 million people in Florida who are registered voters who are with no party affiliation, and it’s grown over the last 10 years by 50 percent,” Khoury correctly notes. He says the American public is tired of “strict” partisanship. “We have to agree on certain issues that are good for America, but unless it’s your own party idea, you’re told you cannot vote on it.”

Khoury supports an open primary system in Florida that would allow independent voters like himself to participate in primary elections. Currently, Florida is a “closed” primary state, with voters required to register as a Democrat or Republican 29 days before voting in a primary election.

But just because there are more and more independent voters doesn’t mean that they do (or don’t) support independent candidates, who have a far harder time getting their message out.

While everyone who follows politics knows who Murphy and Alan Grayson are, for example, most don’t know anything about Pam Keith, a registered Democrat in the race who has never held political office previously.

The Coral Gables resident used to be a registered Republican. On issues like Medicaid expansion he takes a progressive point of view, saying that while he loves the job Gov. Rick Scott is doing in bringing more jobs to the state, it was “wrong” of him not to push for taking the federal money to allow an estimated 850,000 more Floridians to get health care.

On the minimum wage, he’s up for raising Florida’s rate of $8.05 an hour to $10 or even $12. Wal-Mart’s announcement in January that they would be boosting its minimum wage in February to $10 an hour, he contends, is a rebuke to CEOs and others in business who declare such a hike could prove to be deleterious to their bottom lines.

Despite those progressive views, Khoury is supporting Donald Trump for president. He says he can relate to Americans’ desire for a successful businessman to lead the nation, and says he doesn’t support some of the New York City real estate magnate’s more provocative comments on Muslims and Mexicans.

Reacting to GOP Senate candidate Carlos Beruff’s comment earlier this week on allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S. (Beruff said, “I don’t think it’s safe to allow anybody from the Middle East into this country.”), Khoury takes a contrarian view, saying it’s extremely important to vet such people; but otherwise, why not?

“I’m an immigrant,” he says. “I come from Jerusalem. I’m a Palestinian immigrant who came into this country.”

There are three Republicans and two Democrats running for senate in Florida who currently hold other elected positions in state or federal government, and Khoury doesn’t like that, claiming it’s a violation of Florida Statute 9.012, regarding the state’s resign-to-run law. However, that law was changed by the GOP-controlled Legislature and enacted in 2007, allowing federal candidates to hold one office while campaigning for another.

Khoury is embittered about what he says was the free publicity David Jolly has been able to engender with his Stop Act proposal, which would ban federal office holders from campaigning for financial contributions. He says Jolly and the other current office holders get an unfair advantage over unelected officials.

“Look at David Jolly,” he says. “He was on ’60 Minutes’ the other day. He’s been a congressman for two years now, and last week he gets the brilliant idea of creating the Stop Act, to stop congress from dialing for dollars. Really?” (Jolly introduced the legislation in January).

You can learn more about Tony Khoury’s candidacy at his website. 

David Jolly refutes charge of lying in 60 Minutes story about fundraising requirement

David Jolly is at war with a part of his own party.

The National Republican Campaign Committee is pushing back hard on that “60 Minutes” piece that aired Sunday featuring the Pinellas County congressman, and specifically his legislation that would ban federal office holders from raising campaign contributions.

In a letter penned by NRCC Executive Director Rob Simms to CBS News’ Norah O’DonnellPatricia Slevin and Miles Doran, the NRCC says that Jolly lied when he told O’Donnell that he was told at a meeting shortly after being elected that he needed to raise $18,000 every day.

“Simply put, this meeting never happened,” Simms writes. “It is a work of fiction. Had the reporter or producer of the story bothered to verify this claim, they would have been told as much.”

The letter was made public in a story written by POLITICO Friday afternoon.

Jolly congressional office denies Simms statement outright, and they say they have the exact time and date when Jolly was told by “party leadership” the directive that he was going to have to raise $18,000 per day.

“In response to the NRCC’s broadside to the credibility of Rep. David Jolly, and in response to the Executive Director’s bold assertion that a meeting with party leadership directing Rep. Jolly to raise $18,000 per day did not occur, we can confirm the date was April 3, 2014, the time was 5:30 p.m., the location was the NRCC’s Political Conference Room on the Second Floor,” writes Preston Rudie, Jolly’s communications director, in a statement to FloridaPolitics.com. “Out of respect for those involved, Rep. Jolly has intentionally left out names of participants since the beginning of this story, but if the NRCC wishes to escalate their denial, we are happy to provide additional information regarding the meeting.”

Simms takes several shots at Jolly in his letter to CBS News, writing that the NRCC raised over $2 million in his special election victory over Democrat Alex Sink in March 2014, “significantly more than the congressman raised and spent on his own behalf.”

And he makes explicit what some of Jolly’s GOP senate opponents have said about The Stop Act since he first introduced it three months ago – that it’s purely a publicity stunt to cover over the fact that he is struggling to compete financially with some of his other opponents in fundraising.

“Why is it important for your viewers to see a congressman condemning a committee largely responsible for his election?” Simms writes. “Because it would have shed a light on the likely intentions behind his legislation – a publicity stunt to designed to help a lagging and underfunded Senate campaign.”

Jolly introduced The Stop Act back in January. It would prohibit federal officeholders from directly soliciting political contributions. Elected federal officials would still be permitted to attend fundraisers and speak to donors. Citizens would still be allowed to contribute to campaigns of their choosing. But under no circumstance would federal officeholders be allowed to ask people for campaign donations personally.

The proposal immediately won plaudits in editorial pages throughout Florida and even around the country, but has not collected much traction on Capitol Hill. On Thursday two Democratic members of the House, Florida’s Alan Grayson and Pennsylvania’s Brendan Boyle, signed on to the legislation, giving him eight co-sponsors to date.

Jolly has done well in most polls so far regarding the five Republicans in the Senate race. Because of his lackluster fundraising, however, rumors have percolated this week that he might contemplate running again for his CD 13 seat that he announced last summer he was vacating. His senate campaign team has vehemently denied those rumors.

Today on Context Florida: Cabinet meeting drama, Carly Fiorina, David Jolly and reproductive freedom

Today on Context Florida:

Monday’s Cabinet meeting was nothing like any of the other meetings. It was dramatic, intense, awkward, and anticlimactic — all at the same time. After four interviews by candidates for the post of Insurance Commissioner, Gov. Rick Scott read from a prepared statement and moved to appoint Jeffrey Bragg—a man whose legal eligibility for the job continues to be murky, and who is reported to have misled investors in a private sector position. The silence was deafening, reports Peter Schorsch.

Darryl Paulson calls Ted Cruz’s choice of Carly Fiorina for VP an act of political desperation. On Wednesday, one week after losing all five primaries in the Northeast and one week prior to the “must win” Indiana primary, Cruz took the unusual step of selecting Fiorina as his running mate. Donald Trump has won 954 delegates and is only 283 delegates short of the 1,237 needed to win the Republican presidential nomination. Cruz has won 562 delegates and has no path to winning the nomination outright even if he sweeps all the remaining contests.

Congressman David Jolly is trying to separate himself from the field of candidates vying to succeed Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. This race seems to hardly register a blip on the political sonar. Despite this, Bob Sparks notes that Jolly took full advantage of multiple opportunities to get his name in front of millions.

Martin Dyckman points out that any law invading the privacy and liberties of American citizens should come into court facing a heavy burden of proof. Does it serve a compelling public interest? Is it the most reasonable — that is, the least restrictive — approach? That’s doubly true in Florida, whose state constitution contains an explicit right to privacy. That’s why the Florida Supreme Court did the right thing last week to put a hold on the Legislature’s latest mean-spirited and colossally hypocritical attack on the reproductive freedom of Florida women.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

Mitch Perry Report for 4.29.16 – Trib frowns on Go Hillsborough vote

Good morning, y’all.

Regular readers of this column may note that it’s being posted a little later this morning. Not to get into Too Much Information, but let’s just say I think when I read Arianna Huffington write that you must have 7/8 hours a sleep every night, well, one can certainly aspire to that.

Rumor has it that Tampa attorney Bob Buesing will declare his candidacy as a Democrat for the newly created Senate District 18 seat in Hillsborough County on Monday. Local Dems believe this is a winnable seat, though Dana Young is formidable.

Alan Grayson has become the 8th co-sponsor of David Jolly’s Stop Act, and why not? Jolly said he would be happy if Grayson endorsed his measure that would ban federal office holders from fundraising, and would allow him to continue to do so this year.

We’ve skimmed through the editorial pages of the Trib, Times and La Gaceta this morning, giving their post-mortem on Wednesday night’s no vote on Go Hillsborough by the Board of County Commissioners.

“We hope Hillsborough voters remember the pathetic lack of leadership by the majority of the Hillsborough County Commission on Wednesday night,” the Trib writes today.

The column goes on to describe the board’s vote as “a shameful performance, with flip-flops and half-baked proposals.”

A couple of thoughts on that: Though in our role as a reporter we never had an opinion on the merits of the proposal,  let’s just say that it would have been interesting to cover this discussion for the next six months.

But the idea that Hillsborough voters will punish those commissioners who voted no? That’s dubious because A) the public seemed to be damn divided on the issue, and B) With the exception of Neil Brickfield and Nancy Rostock going down in 2012 in Pinellas County due to their votes on fluoride, rarely have I seen Tampa Bay/Florida voters ever vote against a lawmaker because of a particular position. Or wouldn’t we see a number of Republicans in the Legislature lose their gigs for opposing Medicaid expansion.

In other news..

Activists in Tampa yesterday denounced the aforementioned House Republican Dana Young for supporting a controversial anti-abortion bill in the Legislature earlier this year.

The Florida Congressional delegation, led by Sarasota’s Vern Buchanan, received an update on the heroin crisis in the U.S. Buchanan represents Manatee County, the number one spot in the state for heroin deaths in 2014.

Renee Flowers has given a ringing endorsement to HD 70 candidate Wengay Newton.

The Day After: The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce says they’re “disappointed” that the Board of County Commissioners voted to deny Hillsborough voters the chance to weigh in on the Go Hillsborough initiative on Wednesday night.

And Florida Congressman (and Dem Senate candidate) Alan Grayson in introducing the “Zombie Property Act of 2015.”

Alan Grayson-David Jolly debate draws 81,000 live viewers, 186,000+ since

U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and David Jolly drew 81,000 live viewers for their internet-webcast U.S. Senate debate Monday night plus another 186,000 and counting views on the YouTube post of the video.

In addition, at least 41 TV stations appeared to have taken video clips or otherwise covered the debate as a news story.

Whether that’s enough to make an impact in their respective races, in which Grayson is seeking the Democratic primary nomination and Jolly the Republican, may not yet be easy to measure. The primary opponents for Grayson and Jolly were critical of the debate.

But the group that organized the debate is expressing glee over the viewership.

“It went just as well as we could have possibly imagined,” said Lilia Tamm, program coordinator for the Open Debate Coalition.

The two debated for 75 minutes Monday, in a novel format. They took questions that had been proposed and voted on by people over the internet. The debate, held at the WUCF studio in Orlando, was webcast live and provided no-strings-attached to any media that wanted it.

Jolly and Grayson aren’t running against each other, at least not yet. That will be decided by the Aug. 30 primaries, in which Jolly, of Seminole, faces U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami, businessman Todd Wilcox of Orlando and businessman Carlos Beruff of Bradenton. Grayson would have to defeat U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter and attorney Pam Keith of Palm Beach Gardens.

Grayson expressed confidence Wednesday that the debate has helped him, and likely has helped Jolly, too, whom he praised as having “acquitted his positions very well” Monday night. Grayson said nothing he has ever done has been reported on by 41 television stations.

Jolly was on the floor of Congress Wednesday afternoon, not immediately available to comment on the debate. However, immediately after it was finished on Monday he expressed strong praise.

Social media and internet comments, Grayson said, were “overwhelmingly positive, not just about the format, but about the things that got said.” And he added that he suspects the viewership through Facebook would be far higher than the 186,000 YouTube views the coalition had tracked through Wednesday afternoon.

He also said his campaign is looking into using the debate video, or links to it, in campaign advertising, or make it available to groups.

“What I heard from people over and over again was this is what a debate ought to be,” he said.

Tamm said her group already has presented some of the preliminary results and reviews of the debate to the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is meeting today in Washington, with the hope of convincing the commission to use the format.

This was the second time the coalition has put on a debate such as this. The first was in a 2013 congressional race in Massachusetts.

She said she also expects the Open Debate Coalition to present several more debates this year around the country, perhaps of other U.S. Senate races or gubernatorial races.

A sampling of Twitter reviews of Monday's Florida Open Debate, as tracked by the U.S. Senate campaign of U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.
A sampling of Twitter reviews of Monday’s Florida Open Debate, as tracked by the U.S. Senate campaign of U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

Todd Wilcox to Florida GOP: Set up Senate debates now

In a wide-ranging interview in Jacksonville, GOP Senate candidate Todd Wilcox called for a debate among Senate candidates and called his opponents out in the process.

“The role of the Republican Party of Florida should be to educate voters,” Wilcox said Wednesday, adding that it was “time for the party and the chairman to consider a debate series.”

In doing so, Wilcox believes that voters would be the “stark contrast” between him and some of his opponents.

****

One of those opponents: Carlos Beruff, in the news this week for calling for a ban on Middle Easterners from entering the United States.

“That’s a ridiculous statement,” Wilcox said, adding that Beruff is either “out of touch or playing on people’s fears.”

Though Wilcox, who has combat experience in that region of the world, is cognizant of the “Arab Sunni Muslim Terrorist threat,” he believes that Beruff’s statement betrays a fundamental “lack of understanding” of the globalized economy, as well as of the intricacies of American relationships in the Middle East.

An omnibus ban would include Christians and Jewish people, and would also include people as part of military exchanges from close allies like Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan, many of whom Wilcox fought “shoulder to shoulder” with.

“If Beruff truly believes that,” Wilcox said, “he doesn’t understand how national security or the economy works.”

****

Wilcox also had critiques of Rep. David Jolly, who participated with Rep. Alan Grayson earlier this week in what Wilcox called “one of the best Democratic debates I’ve seen lately.”

“He considers himself the front-runner,” Wilcox said, and that’s why Jolly accepted Grayson’s debate invite.

“David Jolly is doing enough damage to himself,” Wilcox added, pointing out that Jolly’s “performance in the polls is a direct result of him pouring money into that media market to beat Alex Sink.”

“Most of the people polled are undecided,” Wilcox said.

And when he has a chance to make his pitch, he believes he convinces them.

****

Wilcox brought up two straw poll victories in recent weeks: one in Brevard, where he beat Ron DeSantis 158 to 36; and another with the Hillsborough County REC where he got 70 percent of the vote.

The candidate noted that represented “both sides of the I-4 Corridor,” adding that people who have heard him speak recognize his unique value add.

For his part, Wilcox believes that he’s the “only candidate in the race who can keep the seat Republican.”

Why? Real experience, including in national security and foreign policy issues that are “not limited to a subcommittee in the House,” but instead are rooted in “boots on the ground” experience in tactical, operational, and strategic modes.

****

Wilcox is in Jacksonville Wednesday talking to local media, but also (as we reported in Jax Bold) meeting with supporters, including local power brokers Michael Munz and Peter Rummell at Rummell’s house.

In conservative Northeast Florida, their support is valuable, and Wilcox knows it, saying their “connections … will make a different in this market.”

Munz and Rummell are part of Wilcox’s statewide finance committee, which has power players in other Florida metros. Yet this reporter got the sense that Jacksonville is key to Wilcox’s success, especially given that other major movers, such as former George W. Bush “pioneer” Husein Cumber, will be on hand Wednesday evening.

****

Not surprisingly given his local backing, Wilcox is more conversant on local issues and players than some candidates might be.

Wilcox had kind words for Mayor Lenny Curry, whom he lauded for bringing “business sense and real world experience to government,” and also praised the pension tax referendum as being a “good idea to present voters,” one that “fixes a problem created by career politicians.”

****

Despite having the backing locally to make a TV and radio play, Wilcox has been quiet on the airwaves.

That, he says, will change.

“This is a very important market,” Wilcox said regarding Jacksonville. “Depending on who you listen to, paid TV media is still very important.”

“The real battle is closer to the primary,” Wilcox added. “I will have resources.”

The full extent of those resources will be known in the next three months.

Mitch Perry Report for 4.27.16 – Time for Hillsborough BOCC to make a decision

Hillsborough County Commissioners unanimously approved increasing what used to be call impact fees but are now dubbed mobility fees.

It’s actually a pretty big deal by itself, considering that they hadn’t done so since Ronald Reagan was still president. The fees are designed to have developers pay for the increase in construction to roads needed to handle the increased traffic.

Fees for home developers building a house that range between 1,500-2,500 square feet would rise from $1,792 currently to $4,967 in an urban area and $7,535 in a rural area.

Next up is a vote on the proposed, 30-year half-cent sales tax to pay for transportation projects. You know, that whole “Go Hillsborough” thing.

As has been known for months, the only commissioner’s vote who is in question is Victor Crist.

Some say that Kevin Beckner is in that camp as well, but it would be a pretty big deal if he were to oppose the measure. What you might expect to see Beckner unveil tonight is his own preferred plan, which is to reduce the duration of the tax from 30 years to 10 (some say perhaps to just five years).

While he may have an ally in Sandy Murman, that measure is not going to pass. And it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, frankly. Proponents of this measure say that a smaller tax will persuade skeptics who don’t trust the county.

But what that fails to address is that most folks who are against a 30-year tax are also against a one-year tax. They don’t want to pay higher taxes. Period.

The safe vote is to allow the measure to go on the ballot, where there can be the entire summer and part of the fall for the community to decide whether this plan – clearly programed to get buy-in from the more conservative parts of the county outside of Tampa – deserves to be implemented.

It’s taken nearly six years for the BOCC to even get to this point after the Moving Hillsborough Forward transit tax went down to defeat in 2010. If the board fails to put the measure this year, it’s unlikely it will even come up for discussion until 2020.

The public hearing takes place tonight at the All Peoples Life Center at 6105 E Sleigh Avenue in Tampa at 6:00 p.m.

In other news..

The long awaited report from the Department of Justice regarding the Tampa Police Department’s bicycle citation program went public on Tuesday. The upshot? The TPD wasn’t discriminating against blacks when they cited them in disproportionate numbers, but it wasn’t very effective, either.

An advocacy group that has been targeting Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her position on payday loans is about to expand their efforts to include another Florida member of Congress, and they’re asking the public to tell them who that should be.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus’s PAC is endorsing Eric Lynn in the CD 13 contest.

With the heat soon about to come in the Tampa Bay area, Congresswoman Kathy Castor brought together some local health experts to talk about how to with the Zika virus.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera’s senate campaign spokeswoman had some harsh words for David Jolly for having the heretical GOP take that Supreme Court justice nominee Merrick Garland deserves a vote in the Senate.

And Rick Kriseman formally responded on Tuesday to Jack Latvala’s issue with him being “too parochial” by creating efforts on keeping the Rays in St. Petersburg, vs. all of Pinellas County.