Carlos Beruff campaign says he will stay in U.S. Senate race ‘no matter what’

Marco Rubio might be getting pressure to run for re-election, but that doesn’t seem to bother some U.S. Senate hopefuls.

Five Republicans — Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Carlos Beruff, and Todd Wilcox — are battling it out to replace Rubio in the U.S. Senate.

Rubio, who unsuccessfully ran for president this year, has said he plans to go into the private sector when his term ends. However, he’s been getting pressure to run for re-election from Republicans who are worried about losing. According to CNN, Rubio responded “maybe” when asked if he would consider running if Lopez-Cantera, his close friend, wasn’t running.

“Look, I have a real good friend I’ve known for a long time who I was running for the Senate with; I didn’t run. I said I wasn’t going to. He got into the race,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I think he’s put in time and energy to it, and he deserves the chance to see where he can take it.”

Courtney Alexander, a spokeswoman for Lopez-Cantera’s campaign, said the lieutenant governor is focused on winning the seat.

“It looks like the press needs a narrative going into Memorial Day Weekend,” she said in a statement. “Carlos Lopez-Cantera is focused on winning this Senate seat, and Senator Rubio has been supportive of Lopez-Cantera’s candidacy, I’ll let that speak for itself.”

Talk about the possibility of Rubio entering the race doesn’t seem to faze a few Senate candidates.

“We’re not concerned with DC chatter,” said Brad Herold, DeSantis’ campaign manager. “We’re focused on continuing to run the strongest campaign of any candidate in Florida.”

Chris Hartline, a spokesman for Beruff, said Beruff “is staying in this race no matter what.”

“Marco Rubio made the right decision in 2010 when he refused to get pushed out of the race by the power brokers in Washington,” he said in a statement. “As usual, Washington Republicans think they can control the race, but the voters of Florida will decide who our nominee is, and we feel confident about where we are.”

And Wilcox isn’t budging either.

“As a conservative I have no intention of leaving this race just because another career politician gets in, especially one who fought for amnesty for illegals and oversaw tax increases as a city commissioner,” he said in a statement.

On Friday, Alex Leary with the Tampa Bay Times reported Jolly said would withdraw from the race if Rubio gets in.

“I would withdraw from the Senate race and support Rubio for reelection,” said Jolly in a statement Friday afternoon.

Mitch Perry Report for 5.26.16 – How much will the political parties change after this year?

he Republican Party really be serious about rejiggering the primary calendar, as has reported in places like the New York Times and the Boston Globe earlier this week?

We’ve heard a lot in the past few weeks how presidential politics have changed – perhaps forever – by the campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Whether that’s actually true remains to be seen, obviously.

According to the Times’ Jeremy Peters, GOP party activists are also talking up the idea of their Republican primaries and caucuses to independent voters,  arguing that open primaries in some states allowed Trump, hardly a beacon of conservative beliefs, to become the nominee

The other proposal would still allow New Hampshire to be the first primary in the nation, but would share that day with another New England state, such as Maine or Massachusetts.

That’s intriguing, but does it make sense?

Obviously, the GOP is extremely divided in terms of getting behind their standard bearer this year, but it can’t be denied that that voter participation has been strong in GOP contests. Much of that is obviously due significance of the celebrity factor in Trump, but the fact is that he’s done well with independents, as has Bernie Sanders, obviously.

What makes sense in this early reporting is that Nevada may be taken out of the early state rotation. For one thing, Nevada emerged as an early voting state (along with South Carolina) in recent election cycles because of the concern on both parties’ part to add racial and geographic diversity to the frankly lily-white early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.  So that’s not that radical.

The fact is the party leaders have always been terrified of moving those two states out of the top tier, though the argument for making Iowa less significant has never been greater. For one thing, you could argue that caucuses really aren’t very democratic (small d), and in the Republican’s case, the winner there has often not become the standard bearer in the fall (with Ted Cruz being the latest example).

So color me skeptical about how significant the primary calendar will change.

Removing indies from voting? Well, they are private parties theoretically and can do what they want. You can bet that one of the answers to the question that will emerge in a few weeks about What Does Bernie Want will include allowing independents to be able to vote in primaries and caucuses. Should they? Again, up to the party, but neither group should ignore the fact that people are registering in droves around the country as independent, so turned off are they to the arcane and just sometimes lame rules that these party organizations create that appear to put the voter lower in importance than party elders.

In other news..

Kathy Castor recently visited the post office at Tampa International Airport where passports are processed, and she was not impressed. The State Dept. tell us they’ve received her letter of complaint to Sec. of State John Kerry, and are investigating ways to make it better for Tampa Bay area residents.

Cory Booker will be the keynote speaker at the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Gala event next month in Hollywood.

Tampa folks transitioning out of homelessness are now responsible for preparing meals for folks on the run at Tampa International Airport.

David Jolly received an interesting letter recently from the beleaguered Dept. of Veteran Affairs. That is, he learned that over 4,200 folks were declared by the department to be dead in the last five years, meaning their benefits were cut, despite the fact that they were very much alive.

Florida Republicans and Democrats in Congress apparently love the way we deal with payday lending in the Sunshine State, and want to take the model national, or at least oppose it compared to what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  is expected to unveil next week. An advocacy group continues to hammer that approach.

VA admits to David Jolly they’ve mistakenly labeled over 4,200 people dead in last 5 years

In an embarrassing admission, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is acknowledging in a letter to Pinellas County Congressman David Jolly that it falsely declared 4,201 people dead between 2011 and 2015, disrupting the distribution of benefits to those veterans and their dependents. Last year alone, the VA says it erroneously terminated benefits to 1,025 individuals.

“These numbers confirm our suspicion, that mistaken deaths by the VA have been a widespread problem impacting thousands of veterans across the country,” Jolly said in a statement. “It’s a problem that should have been addressed years ago, as it has caused needless hardships for thousands of people who had their benefits terminated and their world turned upside down.”

The issue of wrongful declaration of deceased veterans had emerged from the original scandal that rocked Veterans Affairs two years ago, when it was revealed that more than three dozen VA hospital patients in Phoenix died while awaiting medical care.

“Although we are able to identify cases where benefits were terminated based on an erroneous notice of a beneficiary’s death and subsequently reinstated, our computer systems do not collect information on the cause of the errors,” wrote Danny Pummell, the acting undersecretary of Veterans Affairs for benefits.

Jolly says he’ll ask for another annual survey for 2016.

“If the VA’s new policy is indeed working, this problem should be eliminated. If the problem persists, then Congress will demand further action. We simply cannot have men and women who have sacrificed for this country see their rightful benefits wrongfully terminated because the VA mistakenly declares them dead. This creates tremendous financial hardships and undue personal turmoil for veterans, many who are seniors relying primarily, if not solely, on their VA benefits,” Jolly added.

This information comes as the VA is contending with their latest crisis, the firestorm of criticism that has rained down on Secretary Robert McDonald over the past 48 hours after he downplayed veteran wait times at VA hospitals by comparing them to wait times for rides at Disney theme parks.

That criticism has led to some Republicans to call on President Obama to fire McDonald, including from Florida U.S. Senate candidates (and Jolly’s opponents) Carlos Beruff and Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Republican Senate hopefuls call on Barack Obama to fire VA Secretary

Two Republican Senate hopefuls are calling on President Barack Obama to fire the head of Veterans Affairs.

On Monday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said the VA shouldn’t use wait times as a measure of success, comparing the wait times for health care to the house people wait for rides at Disney theme parks. McDonald said a veterans’ health-care experience was more important than the time spent waiting for an appointment.

His comments immediately came under fire, with House Speaker Paul Ryan calling the comments “disgusting and beyond the pale.” Ryan, according to the Associated Press, stopped short of calling for him to step down.

On Tuesday, Republicans Carlos Beruff and Carlos Lopez-Cantera called on the president to fire McDonald. In a statement, Beruff said McDonald’s comments “are proof he’s not the right man to get the VA back on track.”

“VA Secretary McDonald’s comments demonstrate ignorance and are proof he’s not the right man to get the VA back on track. In the real world, if things aren’t going well, new leadership is brought in to chart a new course,” said Beruff in a statement. “But in government, we often have a complete lack of accountability. It is long past time for accountability at the VA. Our veterans deserve leaders in Washington who will eliminate the bureaucratic inefficiencies and waste. President Obama should fire McDonald today.”

Lopez-Cantera said McDonald has “”grossly failed to hold himself or his agency accountable to our nation’s heroes.”

“With continued reports of manipulated wait times at the VA, Secretary Robert McDonald’s comments were not only uncalled for, they were indicative of an appallingly dismissive culture within the highest levels of the VA,” said Lopez-Cantera in a statement. “Waiting for care at the VA is certainly not the same thing as waiting in line at Disney, and the Secretary should be ashamed of his nonchalance. Veterans have died waiting for care, yet Mr. McDonald and the rest of his leadership team have failed to take care of those who cared enough to risk their lives to protect our freedoms.”

Beruff and Lopez-Cantera are among the five Republicans running to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. They’ll face Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, and Todd Wilcox in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mitch Perry Report for 5.24.16 – Hillary nixes a last Dem debate in California

Last night in Santa Monica, Bernie Sanders called Hillary Clinton‘s decision not to debate him in California “insulting” to the voters in the Golden State.

“A number of months ago our campaign and her campaign reached an agreement on a number of debates, including one here in California,” Sanders told the crowd, according to a release issued by the Sanders campaign overnight. He added that it was “insulting to the people of California — our largest state — that she is not prepared to have a discussion with me about how we address the major crises we face.”

Both Democratic candidates are in California today and will be there a lot this week, some two weeks before registered voters go to the polls on June 7, with some 475 pledged delegates at stake.

It’s a fact that in February, both candidates agreed to add four more debates to the primary calendar, including one in May. So far they have had three of those four debates, the last one in New York on CNN before that state’s April primary.

Adding an interesting twist to all of this is that the debate would have been broadcast on Fox News, which hasn’t hosted a Democratic debate since 2004. There were discussions to do so in 2008, but at that point, the Democratic National Committee had virtually declared war on the conservative news network, though there were candidates (like Dennis Kucinich) who said the party was making a mistake in not trying to appeal to more independents and even conservatives.

Fox News execs were selling the debate as a way for the candidates — especially Clinton — to appeal to moderates. Sanders was up for it; Hillary wasn’t.

It should be noted that following the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee said they would control their presidential primary debates in 2015-16, and they’ve done so by controlling the sponsors — which is why you haven’t seen one GOP debate on MSNBC.

In other news …

Jeff Atwater doesn’t regret not getting into the U.S. Senate race. The CFO also touted the Florida economy in an appearance in St. Petersburg on Monday.

David Jolly voted again last week against adding yet another congressional panel to investigate those Planned Parenthood videos from last summer. After a pro-life group castigated the Pinellas lawmaker, Senate opponent Carlos Lopez-Cantera joined in yesterday with a digital ad.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald stuck his foot in his mouth again yesterday, not a good thing when there are plenty of folks who don’t believe he’s cleaned up his troubled agency nearly that much. Among those critics would be CD 12 Republican Gus Bilirakis.

And after President Obama signed the reauthorization of the National Estuary Program, Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan gave POTUS a shout-out.

Jeff Atwater has no regrets about not entering run for U.S. Senate

It was thirteen months ago when Jeff Atwater stunned the Florida political world by announcing he would not run for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

A Quinnipiac Poll taken just a week earlier showed him leading the two major Democratic candidates in the race, Congressmen Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy, and he was considered to have by far the best name recognition of any Florida Republican considering entering the contest. His decision unfroze the field, with David Jolly, Ron DeSantis, Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox all filing to declare their candidacies in the months that followed (joined by Carlos Beruff earlier this year). Though at one point last fall Atwater talked about the “possibility” if getting back into the race, he never did. Now the Florida Chief Financial Officer says he’s content that he made the right move in not making the move for Washington.

“No, no, no. The timing just wasn’t right for us,” Atwater told this reporter after speaking to the St. Petersburg Republican Club at Parkshore Grill on Beach Drive on Monday afternoon. He said he made the decision roughly around three months after being inaugurated for another four-year term as the state’s CFO, and wasn’t prepared to engage in another year-and-half of campaigning to attempt to succeed Marco Rubio in Washington.

“We’re loving what we’re doing,” he said about his current state of affairs, adding that he wished all five of the GOP senate candidates well.”They’re hustling,” he said. “It’s been far to get out of the shadow of the presidential conversation, but they’re hustling, and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.”

Atwater says for now he’s staying neutral in the race, but will back whomever survives the August 30 primary.

Earlier the state’s Chief Financial Officer presented a glowing report card on the state of Florida’s economy to the 30 or so people in the attendance, and he particularly seemed to relish comparing the state’s financial  health with the economies of the nation’s four other largest sized states – California, New York, Texas and Illinois.

Atwater referenced how a George Mason University study listed Florida as having the 5th best economy in the country. Actually, last fall the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index rated Florida the 4th most sound financial state in the nation, trailing only behind Wyoming, South Dakota and Alaska. He then went into some details about the where the state was financially in 2004 – when topline revenues were $27 billion and the average home price was $258,000, and how upside down they were in 2009, at the apex of the Great Recession, when the topline had been reduced to $21 million with 500,000 homes in foreclosure and the average priced home had slumped to a miserable $121,000.

He said the state was at a financial crossroads about how to fill that $6 billion funding gap, and said if it had been up to editorial writers throughout the state, that gap would have been patched up by raising taxes.“Instead the answer was, we’ll reduce our run rate of spending to match the run rate of revenue” he said. “We will not pull revenue up. “

Unlike some other high ranking state officials, Atwater intentionally avoids saying that the state has created conditions that allowed the economy to recover better here than in other parts of the country. Instead he continuously emphasized to the audience that it was “you” who had done the work to keep business conditions positive.

“Every time the government can trust the marketplace to bring us back, it does,” he said.

He now says top line revenues are at $28 billion, the median price of a home is now $209,000, adding that “you’ve created more jobs in the country the last three years.”

His only notes of discord in an otherwise sunny trip thorough recent history was when he discussed the federal debt and deficit.

“There’s just not that much time,” he fretted. “I’m not saying that the country is going to disappear, it’s just going to be a far different place to the extent that my children’s income will have to be extorted, to be able to cover the cost of what’s being built,” adding that he also feared that the younger generation won’t ever have the opportunities that he had growing up. He said that should motivate the fellow Republicans in the room regarding this fall’s election.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera attacks David Jolly on Planned Parenthood vote

Carlos-Lopez Cantera is taking direct aim at David Jolly in a new digital ad released on Monday. The ad targets the Pinellas County Representative for refusing to support another congressional investigation into the allegations that Planned Parenthood harvested and trafficked in fetal body parts.

“David Jolly refused to hold the largest abortion provider in the country accountable last week by voting to end the investigation of the harvesting and trafficking of fetal body parts,” said Courtney Alexander, a spokesperson for Lopez-Cantera. “What’s worse? This isn’t the first time Jolly has refused to stand up for life.”

Indeed, Jolly also opposed a similar vote to create another House panel to investigate Planned Parenthood last fall, something he boasted about during his one-on-one debate with Democrat Alan Grayson last month.

“When my side of the aisle asked for an investigation of Planned Parenthood, I actually voted no,”Jolly said during that debate. “I was the only Republican to vote no. Should the issue be looked at? Yes. But there were already three committees looking at the issue. We didn’t need a fourth. We’re either going to be the party of less government or not.”

“Leave it to Carlos to want to spend millions of your taxpayer dollars on a fourth committee to investigate a matter that is already under investigation by three others,” added Jolly campaign spokesman Max Goodman in a statement on Monday. “But don’t worry, he swears he’s a fiscal conservative.”

The Jolly senate campaign also forwarded an op-ed the Congressman penned last fall explaining his vote against another committee. He wrote that if the allegations that Planned Parenthood executives sold fetal body parts were correct, it was “both heartbreaking and shocking,” and “should offend every American.” However, he wrote, “As a conservative who believes in smaller, more efficient, less costly government, I consistently argue against attempts by the current administration to expand government, create more bureaucracy, and obligate taxpayers to redundant and duplicative expense.”

Jolly’s vote opposing the latest panel occurred last Tuesday during an Appropriations Committee mark-up in which an amendment was offered to disband the Select Panel.

In their statement, the Lopez-Cantera campaign also took note of the fact that the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List condemned Jolly for his vote last week opposing the creation of another congressional panel looking into the videos. In a statement listed on that organziation’s website from May 17, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the group, asked why Jolly would “buy into Planned Parenthood’s talking points to half the inquiry?”

“He has just allied himself with the underbelly of the abortion industry and disqualified himself from the Florida Senate Republican primary,” Dannenfelser said. “He has betrayed the pro-life movement and does not deserve the support of conscientious Floridians.”

Jolly has been an early front-runner in some of GOP polls taken this year of the five candidates running for senate this year. On certain issues, he is by far the most moderate candidate in the five-person field, which also includes Carlos Beruff, Todd Wilcox and Ron DeSantis.

While that moderation label may make him the party’s best hope to retain the seat in the fall, it could lead to his undoing in the primary.

You can watch the video, labeled “Jolly’s Folly,” below.

Senate Majority PAC slated to spend $10.5M in Florida this fall

A super PAC aimed at helping Democratic U.S. Senate candidates is prepared to spend more than $10 million in Florida this fall.

The Senate Majority PAC, a political committee aimed at helping take back the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, said it is poised to spend $10.5 million on cable and broadcast advertisements in Florida starting in September.

“Republicans are going to nominate a far right, Tea Party candidate who is out of touch with Florida’s middle-class,” said Shripal Shah, for Senate Majority PAC’s director of communications. “We’re going to be ready to hold their eventual nominee accountable.”

Rep. Patrick Murphy and Rep. Alan Grayson are battling it out for their party’s nomination to replace Republican Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate.

Many Democrats have lined up behind Murphy, who many in the party believe has the best shot of winning in the fall. It’s unclear if Senate Majority PAC will still spend in the state if Grayson is the nominee.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Carlos Beruff, and Todd Wilcox are running for the Republican nomination. The primary is Aug. 30.

The group is also expected to spend $7.5 million in Nevada, $8.5 million in New Hampshire, and $9.5 million in Ohio this fall.

Alan Grayson: At least they’re not calling me Hitler

Democrat Alan Grayson has been dubbed “Angry Alan” by his Senate opponent, compared to Republican Donald Trump for his penchant for earning headlines with his mouth and has become the whipping post for some in the Washington party establishment who hope he loses Florida’s primary.

But he said things could be worse.

“At least they’re not calling me the Adolf Hitler of the Democratic Senate race. They haven’t quite gone there yet. It’s only a matter of time before they accuse me of both cannibalism and necrophilia,” Grayson, who is Jewish, said during an interview at a Florida Democratic Party fundraising dinner Saturday. “Nobody buys that!”

A not-so-angry Grayson made his way through a crowd of top Democratic donors, activists and elected officials at the event — the anti-establishment candidate working the establishment itself. He was pleasant and gracious, telling U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, “If there’s anything we can do for you while you’re here, please let me know.”

Ironically, establishment-backed candidate Congressman Patrick Murphy didn’t attend the Florida Democratic Party fundraising dinner. His campaign said he had a previously planned dinner with his family.

The Democratic primary has become increasingly nasty, with Murphy repeatedly criticizing Grayson over ethical questions about his management of a Cayman Islands-based hedge fund. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has called for Grayson to quit the race, saying he has no moral compass. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have endorsed Murphy, as has the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Grayson has been called bombastic. He cursed during a live television interview while criticizing a New York Times article detailing the alleged ethics violations. He’s known for cursing at reporters.

“I’m saying what other people are thinking and nobody else is saying,” Grayson said. And to all the critics who get worked up over his inflammatory comments? He says quit taking his words so literally. Like when he said the Republican health care plan was to “die quickly” if you get sick.

“Did I really think that that was their health care plan? Did Jonathan Swift really think that the Irish should eat their children when he wrote a book about that? No. That’s satire. I assume that the voters have enough intelligence to be able to understand figures of speech, hyperbole, metaphors — the tools of public communication that have fallen by the wayside,” he said. “I don’t feel I have to pay a price for being interesting.”

Still, the Murphy campaign is making Grayson’s temperament an issue and notes that Grayson himself does a lot of name-calling. Grayson routinely calls Murphy a “sock puppet” and says he’s the establishment choice because he’s obedient.

“Grayson’s schoolyard insults fall lamely short of the truth. On the day Grayson announced his campaign, he launched negative, misleading attacks on Patrick,” Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in an email. “Grayson loves to hear himself talk on TV, but the time to judge someone is when the stakes are high and voters are watching. Alan Grayson fails the test, because time and time again he uses angry, bullying tactics to avoid the truth.”

Murphy and Grayson are seeking the seat Republican Marco Rubio is giving up after his failed presidential campaign. Republicans running for the seat include Congressmen David Jolly and Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and businessmen Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox.

Despite many in the Democratic Party establishment lining up behind Murphy, state party Chairwoman Allison Tant, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz all said Saturday they’d be comfortable with Grayson as the nominee should he win the Aug. 30 primary.

“Alan Grayson is a colleague, and if he’s the nominee, I’m going to support him,” Wasserman-Schultz said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Todd Wilcox brings ground-level view of foreign affairs to U.S. Senate race

If companies want to know who to trust to do business in civil-war-torn Ukraine, they might contact Maitland-based Strategic Risk Management LLC. for privately-researched background intelligence reports.

Companies that need to move goods through the dicier parts of Afghanistan might call on Winter Park-based Innovative Logistics LLC to handle the planes, warehouses, trucks and security.

And if the U.S. Department of Defense, or a trusted American ally, wants special operations training and support services to prepare missions in some other unstable backwater nation, they might turn to Maitland-based Patriot Defense Group LLC.

All of these companies are founded, owned and operated by Todd Wilcox, the Orlando Republican running for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat.

When Wilcox talks about foreign affairs, he can draw from ground-level experiences of his personal deployments in Army special operations and as a CIA paramilitary officer, and from the private, international intelligence, security, logistics and training services his businesses sell for a living.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but I probably have more from tactical- to strategic-level experience in national security … than anybody in this race, and comparable to the most experience of those currently sitting in the Senate,” he said.

Wilcox faces U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis of Pointe Vedra Beach and David Jolly of Seminole, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami, and homebuilder Carlos Beruff of Bradenton for the Aug. 30 Republican U.S. Senate primary. He said he has repeatedly offered to debate any of them anywhere, anytime, particularly on national security.

His foreign affairs positions may be colored conservative by his life in the military, business and Republican Party. But they’re also nuanced by his own public service and business requirements to understand countries down to the level of rival warlords and ethnic tribes.

So Wilcox’s statements sometimes take on President Barack Obama‘s foreign policies in broad terms, saying he only uses carrots and not sticks to forward American interests, or accusing him of neutering the military and botching negotiations with Cuba and Iran.

But he also cautions about some of the fine-print complexities in places like the Middle East, which he calls “a mosaic of ethnic, tribal and religious isles.”

“Part of the problem is career politicians who don’t understand the issues we are dealing with,” he charged. “I think we as a nation should focus more on stability and education before democracy.”

Consequently, he decries U.S.-imposed democratization efforts as doomed in places ranging from Iraq under both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, the Gaza Strip, under Bush, and various countries following the Arab Spring uprisings under Obama. Wilcox also disagrees with Obama’s goal of deposing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

“Our precipitous pullout of our forces in Iraq, which is what led to ISIS, was right in advance of the 2012 presidential election,” he said. “It’s a campaign promise this president made to his base, that turned out to be almost as disastrous as the decision to invade Iraq in the first place.”

With rising international terrorism, globalization of business and communications, and what he calls “this borderless environment we are now in,” Wilcox also advocates updating and overhauling U.S. laws that draw lines of power, responsibility and authority between American national security intelligence and covert operations, the military and law enforcement.

He conceded risks to American civil liberties but said much needs to be clarified when it comes to everything from border security responsibilities to American legality of enhanced interrogation techniques (which he says have worked) and indefinite confinements in Guantánamo Bay.

He also pushes an unconventional position on North Korea. Wilcox advocates a long-term effort, using those pillars, to work toward Korean reunification.

As a former Army infantry officer and Green Beret, he talks about war as a very last resort and belittles politicians who don’t.

“There will be nobody more deliberate about the decision than elected leaders who have led men into combat. We have too few elected leaders who have that experience,” Wilcox said. “And what we see time and time again is a political class of chicken-hawks who beat the drums to go to war, who never have served in combat themselves.”

Among his opponents in the U.S. Senate race, only DeSantis, a former U.S. Navy Seal commander and judge advocate general, and Democrat Pam Keith, have military experience. Keith, of Palm Beach Gardens, also has the unique background of growing up all over the world as the daughter of an American Navy officer and diplomat, before being commissioned as a Navy officer herself.

Wilcox cited the pillars of American power as diplomacy, economic sanctions and investments, intelligence, covert action, cultural, cyber, military and space resources and said they should all be focused “first and foremost on peaceful resolution to instability.”

“But once we decide to go to war we should use ever pillar of American power at our disposal to destroy our enemies,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox’s companies open him up to two criticisms he vehemently denies. His companies, he insisted, are not war profiteers. Nor are they, he declared, so-called “black ops” companies, which perform, under contract to governments or private interests, dirty work internationally.

“We compete on those contracts competitively. And because of where we’re at, we only take contracts where we see that we are value-added. So this notion that somehow we’re war profiteers is a false nation,” Wilcox said. “We only go after contracts that we feel are contributing to America’s strength, or the strength of our friendly foreigns. There’s a lot of philosophical approach to all three of these businesses.

“Those are the skills I’m bringing to the table. And I’m not doing it because I need a job. I’m doing it because my wife said, ‘Quit yelling at the TV. If you’re not going to do anything about it sit down and shut up.’ I’ve never been one to sit down and shut up.”