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.”

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.”

Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson blast Marco Rubio’s decision to run for re-election to his Senate seat

Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson are reacting to the news that Marco Rubio intends to run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.

“Marco Rubio abandoned his constituents, and now he’s treating them like a consolation prize. Unlike Marco Rubio, I love working hard every single day for the people of Florida,” Murphy said early Wednesday. “From missing the most votes of any Florida Senator in nearly 50 years, to seeking to ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest, to repeatedly voting against closing the terrorist gun loophole, Rubio is proving he is only out for himself.”

David Damron, a spokesman for Grayson’s Senate campaign, said, “While Rep. Grayson is busy passing good, progressive legislation, he welcomes the chance to beat basically two Do Nothing Republicans in Patrick Murphy and No Show Marco this fall. But it’s shameful that Marco is trying to use the Orlando tragedy to further his 2020 presidential ambitions from a Senate seat that he’s barely sat in. Floridians will see through it. The Trump-Rubio ticket will fail.”

The Washington Post reported early Wednesday Rubio would announce his decision sometime Wednesday, anonymously quoting three people familiar with Rubio’s thinking.

The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which has already endorsed Murphy in the race, blasted Rubio’s decision.

DSCC Communications Director Sadie Weiner said in a statement:

“Sen. Rubio simply couldn’t be bothered to show up for work, and when he asked Florida voters for a promotion in the presidential primary, they swiftly shut him down and handed him a nearly 20-point loss to Donald Trump. That’s the same Donald Trump who Rubio called a “con artist” who couldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes who he has now heartily endorsed and will be forced to run alongside. Unfortunately for Florida voters, when Marco Rubio did decide to show up for work, he voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program, defund critical women’s health services, and keep open a loophole that allows terrorists to purchase guns. Now, he is cravenly using the deadliest mass shooting in American history as the springboard to go back on his word and further his political career. They said it couldn’t be done, but Marco Rubio’s actions, words and votes reveal one of the more self-serving Washington politicians who has always put his political career above the people he represents.”

The Democratic Party opposition group American Bridge immediately linked Rubio to Donald Trump, saying, “With reports confirming that Marco Rubio will run to retain his Florida Senate seat, Donald Trump must be ecstatic. Rubio quickly supported Trump despite their personal and petty sniping in the GOP primary, so the two will make a fine pair on the Florida ticket — if Rubio can even get through the messy Republican primary.” They then linked to a Trump tweet calling on Rubio to run late last month.

A poll released by Quinnipiac University Wednesday shows Rubio would immediately become the front-runner in the race this fall against either Murphy or Congressman Alan Grayson, the other major Democrat in the race. The poll showed that Rubio leads Murphy, 47 percent to 40 percent, and leads Grayson, 48 percent to 40 percent.

That same poll also shows Murphy and/or Grayson defeating every other Republican in the race, which right now includes Congressman Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff, and Orlando businessman and former combat veteran Todd Wilcox. 

Beruff responded: “This isn’t Marco Rubio’s seat; this is Florida’s seat. The power brokers in Washington think they can control this race.  They think they can tell the voters of Florida who their candidates are. But the voters of Florida will not obey them. Like Marco Rubio in 2010, I’m not going to back down from the Washington establishment. They are the problem, not the solution.”

Lopez-Cantera has indicated he would drop out of the race if Rubio were to re-enter the contest, something Pinellas County Congressman David Jolly did last week.

Mitch Perry Report for 6.22.16 – TBX showdown tonight

Our latest form of participatory democracy takes place in Tampa tonight, where scores of people will comment on whether or not the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization should include the Tampa Bay Express project in what is known as their Transportation Improvement Plan.

If past is prologue, the majority of speakers will be against the project, and the MPO will go ahead and approve the plan.

That’s what happened ten months ago on a very similar vote. Only one member of the MPO, Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco, opposed the plan, and 13 supported it. That was despite the fact that two other members of the Tampa City Council, who had voted against the plan while on the Council (acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency), approved it on the MPO.

So in analyzing if the votes have changed much over the past 10 months, you need to look at those on the board representing people in Tampa, since the opposition is greatest in the neighborhoods who will be directly affected by the construction of the project — in Seminole Heights, Tampa Heights and V.M. Ybor.

Councilman Harry Cohen, perhaps realizing the inconsistency of his vote(s) last year, was the only member of the Council recently to resist opposing the TBX in a recent vote. Lisa Montelione (who is running for the state legislature this year) told me last week she could make a case for and against the project, leaving her vote in question.

County Commission Chair Les Miller has already declared his opposition, saying that the Florida Dept. of Transportation has failed in its outreach efforts with the community over the past year. County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, who supported the project last August, could be a no vote this time around. He was seen at an anti-TBX rally in Ybor City a few months ago and is in a tough election battle for Hillsborough Clerk of the Courts.

But the other members of the MPO, who don’t represent Tampa on the board? It’s hard to see how many minds have been changed. The political/business establishment in this town is solidly pro-TBX, and the Tampa Bay Times editorial page weighed in for the project just the other day.

In a move which critics would say is worthy of the best extortionist sports owners, the DOT has threatened to take their billions of dollars earmarked for TBX elsewhere in the state if the MPO rejects the project, further emboldening the business establishment that it would be the send the wrong signal for the community to oppose it.

The meeting takes place tonight at 6 p.m. at the County Center in downtown Tampa.

In other news …

On the eve of the Hillsborough County MPO’s vote on the Tampa Bay Express Project, a new economic analysis says it would bring nearly 7,000 jobs to the greater Tampa Bay area.

Rick Baker chose not to run against Charlie Crist for Congress in Pinellas County, but he’ll help David Jolly, as he was named Jolly’s campaign manager yesterday.

Kimberly Overman is challenging Les Miller for the Democratic nomination for Hillsborough County District 3.

Alan Grayson will introduce a bill today in the House that would ban assault weapons in America. 

CD 15 Democratic candidate Jim Lange has blasted Dennis Ross for not mentioning the LGBT community in his post-Orlando comments.

Bob Buckhorn slams Donald Trump’s economic policy — at least the part The Donald has announced.

Rick Baker to lead David Jolly’s re-election campaign against Charlie Crist

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, who was considering a run against Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th Congressional District earlier this year, will now serve as campaign manager for David Jolly’s reelection bid for the seat.

“David Jolly’s heart belongs to Pinellas, it always has, and his experience in knowing how to get things done has never been more critical for all of us,” said Mayor Baker in a statement.

Baker has been a close ally of Jolly’s, and after Jolly had dropped his bid to run again in CD 13 last year to instead run for the U.S. Senate, Baker did not deny reports that he was seriously considering entering the race, before announcing in April that he would not run for Congress.

Jolly announced last Friday that he was giving up his Senate bid, and instead, would run again for reelection in CD 13. Jolly had originally stated last year that the redistricting of the CD 13 made it impossible for any Republican to run for the seat, but recent polling has undoubtedly readjusted his thinking there, as well as the fact that it’s been strongly rumored that GOP incumbent Senator Marco Rubio will opt to run for reelection for his seat (though Rubio has less than 72 hours now to make that decision).

Baker was a popular two-term mayor of St. Pete from 2001 to 2009, and since then has been rumored to be a possible candidate for a number of offices, but he has never pulled the trigger on any of them. Another rumor that continues to circulate is that he is thinking of challenging current Mayor Rick Kriseman for his old job in the fall of 2017. Baker currently works for uber-St. Pete businessman Bill Edwards.

“I can’t think of anyone more qualified and respected to chair my re-election effort,” said Jolly. “Rick Baker is a hometown champion who turned St. Petersburg into a ‘seamless city’ of hope and opportunity. It’s an honor to have him serve as Chairman of our campaign.”

When Baker dropped out of consideration for the CD 13 seat in April, Crist remarked: “Rick Baker is a good man, friend, and an influential part of our community here in St. Pete. I wish him nothing but continued success.”

Probably not too much success, however, considering Baker’s new gig.

Mitch Perry Report for 6.21.16 — After gun control proposals go down, Bill Nelson says “The NRA wins again”

The U.S. Senate voted on four different gun-control proposals last night — two offered by Republicans, two by Democrats.

They all failed.

First up was California Democrat Dianne Feinstein‘s bit, which would give the Department of Justice the power to stop anyone on the terror watch list from buying a gun. That garnered just 47 votes.

Then came Texas Republican John Cornyn‘s proposal, which would have law enforcement notified when someone on the terror watch list tries to buy a gun, failed with just 53 votes (you need 60 in the Senate to pass anything).

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy — a hero to Democrats for leading their nearly 15-hour filibuster last week that compelled GOP Senate leadership to hold the votes yesterday — then proposed a universal background check bill that is enormously popular with the public, and similar to the Toomey-Manchin bill that came up for a vote immediately after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

It also failed, getting only 44 votes.

Then came Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley‘s bill, which would have increased funding for the background check system. It also would have pushed the states to send more records to the FBI of felons and others barred from buying guns. It also would have changed the language prohibiting some people with mental health issues from buying a gun (which Democrats objected to).

It too, went down to defeat, getting only 53 votes.

After the bills all went down to defeat, Florida Senator Bill Nelson said, “What am I going to tell 49 grieving families? What am I going to tell the families of those that are still in the hospital fighting for their lives? What am I going to tell the trauma surgeon whose bloodstained shoes have been shown in a picture on so many news programs and who said he didn’t know, in the midst of the screams and the cries, if they were black or white, or gay or straight, as they brought in over 40, all at one time, into that trauma operating room? What am I going to tell the community of Orlando that is trying to come together in the healing?  Sadly, what I am going to have to tell them is that the NRA won again.”

All hopes now for anything to come out of the Senate post-Orlando is a proposal by Maine’s Susan Collins. Her proposal would block the sale of guns to people on two terrorist watch list subsets: the no-fly list, which prohibits individuals from boarding a plane, and the “selectee list,” which requires individuals to undergo additional screening before boarding. The measure would also include a provision to notify the FBI if anyone who had been on either of the lists within the previous five years purchases a gun. And it would also “provide due process by allowing an individual to appeal a decision blocking his or her purchase of a firearm, and, if successful, to be awarded attorney’s fees,” according to a spokesperson for Collins.

We’ll know more about Collins bill’s chances in the next few days.

In other news …

While Marco Rubio ponders his future, Carlos Beruff is shooting off verbal bombs at the presumptive U.S. Senate favorite IF he gets into the race.

Two new polls that were released on Monday show that the David Jolly-Charlie Crist matchup should be a doozy. A PPP survey shows Crist up by only 3 points in the allegedly heavily Democratic-friendly seat. Another pollster who works with Republicans shows Jolly up by 12 points in the district.

President Obama got busy endorsing Florida Democrats on Monday, bestowing his imprimatur on the candidacies of Crist and Patrick Murphy.

Despite the odds, the Florida League of Women Voters wants state leaders to call for a special session of the Legislature by the end of this month to ban assault weapons and create more robust background gun checks in Florida.

Frank Reddick endorses Republican Shawn Harrison over his Democratic colleague Lisa Montelione in the HD 63 this fall.

Speaking of Montelione, a date has been established for the special election to succeed her in the Tampa City Council.

Dianne Hart gets an endorsement from the Florida Retail Federation in the HD 61 seat.

Charlie Crist endorsed by President Obama in CD 13 contest

President Obama endorsed Charlie Crist in his race for Congress in Florida’s 13th District.

“Governor Charlie Crist has always put people above politics – and we need more of that in Washington,” said Obama on a statement issued on Monday. “As Governor, in the face of partisan attacks, he had the courage to save jobs and lead his state into economic recovery. He had the wisdom to recognize that climate change is real and act to fight it. And he had the decency to expand, not restrict, our right to vote. I know he’ll bring the people’s voice to Congress, and I’ve got his back.”

Crist’s literal embrace of Obama when the president traveled to Lee County back in the spring of 2009 became one of the most famous hugs in recent political times, as Republicans used it against the former Governor when he unsuccessfully for Senate back in 2010, losing out to Marco Rubio.

“I’m humbled and honored that President Obama, one of the greatest leaders in our nation’s history, has my back,” said Crist. “Outside of the voters of Pinellas County, no endorsement means more to me. He’s done so much for our beautiful Florida  – guiding us out of the recession, and working for greater equality, opportunity, and prosperity. He’s a great friend.”

While the endorsement is a nice pickup for Crist, it’s not unexpected now he is running unopposed in the Democratic primary on Aug. 30.

Another move that Florida Republican criticized Crist for when he was governor was when he extended early voting hours in 2008 when Democrats, especially African-Americans, turned out in unprecedented numbers for President Obama, many of them waiting hours in line to cast a vote.

After he ran as an independent in 2010 and left the Republican Party, Crist was invited to give a speech touting Obama’s record at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in 2012. A few months later at a visit to the White House, he officially announced that he had become a Democrat.

Crist is now engaged in what could be an intense battle for the CD 13 seat in Florida, with GOP incumbent David Jolly reentering the race last Friday. Two private polls that were made public on Monday show that the race is extremely competitive.

A Public Policy Polling survey has Crist up by three points, while a survey done by McLaughlin & Associates has Jolly up by 12 percentage points over Crist.


Two new polls show different results in David Jolly vs. Charlie Crist congressional race

Two new surveys of the race in Florida’s 13th Congressional District show the volatility of the just-formed match between Republican incumbent David Jolly and his Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist.

A private poll conducted for the Crist campaign by Public Policy Polling survey shows Crist leading Jolly, 46 to 43 percent.

Meanwhile, a new poll whose results were published Monday by McLaughlin & Associates shows Jolly leading Crist 50 to 38 percent, with 12 percent undecided. The McLaughlin & Associates survey was first reported in Politico.

The only previous public survey conducted by St. Pete Polls showed the race in a dead heat, with the candidates tied at 44 percent.

The McLaughlin & Associates survey also shows that while Jolly has an extremely favorable/unfavorable rating of 46/13 percent, Crist is underwater, with 37 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable.

“David Jolly is well-positioned to win this race,” write pollsters Jim McLaughlin and Rob Schmidt in a memo. “Jolly is quite popular with voters and he has significantly higher favorable ratings than Charlie Crist. Even though this seat has become somewhat more Democratic, David Jolly appears to be the best candidate to keep this seat in Republican hand.”

All these published surveys upend the narrative that the district was impossible for a Republican to win after the Florida Supreme Court ruled last summer the district was one of eight drawn up in violation of the Florida Constitution in 2012. While CD 13 previously was a slightly leaning Democratic district, the newly drawn district makes it much more Democratic-friendly.

Jolly announced Friday that was dropping out of the race for U.S. Senate, and would run again for re-election in CD 13, now against Crist, who announced his candidacy last fall. Democrats tried to downplay the announcement, citing statistics about how well Democrats have done in the district in recent years. They mentioned how Barack Obama won the newly drawn up district by 11 points in 2012, and Bill Nelson won it by 26 points over Connie Mack the same year.

But that may not hurt Jolly, who won a special election in March of 2014 to succeed his former boss, the late C.W. Bill Young, a Republican who held the seat for more than four decades.

The PPP survey was taken of 1,030 voters in CD 13 on June 6 and 7.

McLaughlin & Associates conducted a survey of 400 registered voters in Florida’s 13th Congressional District on June 1 and 2. It has an accuracy of plus-or-minus 4.9 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval.

Mitch Perry Report for 6.20.16 — Cleveland’s curse is history

Congratulations to the city of Cleveland and fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers worldwide, after they defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals last night, 93-89, bringing the city their first sports championship in 52 years.

Okay, that wasn’t too difficult for me to type.

As a lifelong Warriors fan, it’s a crushing feeling, having the team with the best regular season in history coming up just short, but the fact is, the better team won.

Although the series was hardly an aesthetic classic, last night’s championship game was taut with tension throughout, and remained tied at 89 apiece with less than two minutes to go.

That’s when it looked like the Dubs were to go up as Steph Curry fed Andre Iguodala on the right lane for a sure layup.

And then LeBron happened. “The Chosen One” flew across the other side of the court to swat away the Iggy layup. The Cavs Kyrie Irving then made a three-pointer with less than a minute to go. Curry missed his three-pointer, and a moment later, it was all over.

James is being hailed this morning for bringing his team back from a 3-1 deficit, and he deserves all the praise, and being named the MVP of the series for his incredible stats and leadership. Much maligned throughout his career for frankly simply NOT being Michael Jordan, James gave haters a free pass six years ago when he bolted Cleveland for Miami, and did it in a way that rubbed a lot of folks wrong, many of them in Cleveland.

His return to the team in 2014 was when LeBron won back the love from many fans and media members, and his bringing a championship to “The Land,” will make him a hero to many forever.

Now, about my Warriors.

They’ve been brilliant for the past two years, and beloved — perhaps too much — by the sports media. When you get on The New York Times Magazine with your owner says you’re changing the game, well, you’re setting yourself up for some serious backlash.

“We’ve crushed them on the basketball court, and we’re going to for years because of the way we’ve built this team,” team owner Joe Lacob told the magazine in April. “We’re light-years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things.”

Uh-oh. You knew that was setting themselves up for a fall.

Let it begin now. Curry had a subpar series, and he will come under intense criticism for that, some deserved. There’s no doubt that James took it to him over the past three games, proving to everyone that though Curry might be the two-time MVP, King James still reigns supreme as the best basketball player on the planet.

In other news …

We were in Hollywood (Florida, not Cali) for the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue Gala, and filed lots of reports, including the big event on Saturday night.

Patrick Murphy blasted Marco Rubio, calling him “the most homophobic member of the US Senate.”

Murphy unveiled his proposal to reform the criminal justice system on Saturday, with Cory Booker and Jim Clyburn standing beside him.

By the way, don’t ask Booker if the Hillary Clinton campaign is vetting him for vice president.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee is ready for Marco Rubio.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine says if it were up to him, assault weapons would be illegal in the U.S.

And David Jolly made it official on Friday — he’s leaving the Senate race to concentrate on defeating Charlie Crist in his CD 13 seat.

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.