Mitch Perry Report for 9.1.16 — The debate about the debates begins in Florida

I think I speak for a lot of Florida political observers in expressing my disappointment that, for whatever reason, Patrick Murphy never debated his Democratic Senate opponents, Pam Keith and Alan Grayson, during the just-concluded primary campaign.

Murphy avoided debates organized by Florida Public Radio stations and Bay News 9/News 13 in Orlando well before news broke that Grayson’s ex-wife accused him of abusing her. When that news broke, Murphy said Grayson was not worthy of a debate (ignoring Pam Keith at the time).

Now that he’s an underdog (if just slightly) against Republican Marco Rubio in the general election, however, Murphy hardly can be the one dictating terms. Right?

Not exactly. After Rubio went bold and challenged Murphy to six (!) debates yesterday, Murphy came back and challenged Rubio to say he will commit to serving for six years. Since Rubio won’t do that, Murphy said he’ll do just one debate, in late October.

There probably would never be six debates, but just one? Why not at least two or three?

Look, Rubio has had to suck it up big-time now that he has gone against his vows not to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, after he faded out badly in his run for the presidency. But with a real chance that he could compete again in 2020, he’s made the political calculation that it’s better to be part of the system in Washington to try another run.

If he were to be quoted on tape as saying that he was committed to serving all six years, and then announced in 2019 that he was running for president, well, his Republican rivals would shred him to pieces. Carlos Beruff didn’t lay a hand on him during the primary, so now it’s mano-a-mano against Murphy until Nov. 8.

Rubio seems pretty confident against the two-term Democrat from Jupiter, thus the bold announcement of six debates, immediately putting Murphy on the spot.

Murphy has been hammering all week how Rubio shouldn’t be seriously considered because of his failure to declare to serve a full term if elected. That’s a smart strategy, but he can’t say it for 70 more days. It’s going to come down to policy.

As it stands now, submitting to just one debate feels somewhat insubstantial, and an extension of what happened this past summer.

In other news …

Despite having no money and little name recognition, Pam Keith came close to getting more votes than Alan Grayson in the Florida Democratic Senate primary. Keith says she “feels like a winner” while still realizing the name of the game in politics is winning.

And they’re off: HD 60 Democratic candidate David Singer says Republican Jackie Toledo’s stances on illegal immigrants in Florida “on board” with Donald Trump.

While some people may be stunned to have seen Tim Schock trounce Jim Norman in Tuesday night’s attempt by Norman to make his political comeback, Schock said he wasn’t.

Sarasota poli sci professor Frank Alcock is going to kick off his general election campaign against Republican Greg Steube in Florida’s 23rd Senate District by doing the “Tour de Frank” this weekend.

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Joe Henderson: In the end, Jim Norman was doomed by his own voice

When Jim Norman announced last year that he would try to resurrect his political career by running for the District 6 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission, eyebrows arched all over Tampa.

I mean, the man was toting a lot of baggage, if you get my drift. But among his many traits, Norman really trusts the sound of his own voice. He no doubt thought he could smooth-talk his way past his controversies and back into the voters’ good graces.

His game plan, straight from the Denial 101 handbook, was to confront the issues about his ethics, or lack thereof — and to place the blame for those problems on anyone but him.

It didn’t work. The ploy was a spectacular failure, as voters said “nope, no way, no how” to Norman and showered love on his Republican primary opponent, Tim Schock.

So, on what appropriately seems a tropically depressing morning for the once-powerful Norman, we no doubt bid adieu to a career that at times seemed to be skyrocketing. Schock beat Norman 62-38 percent, and if that’s not a total repudiation of a candidate by the voters, I’m not sure what is.

There were, of course, other high-profile losers Tuesday.

Voters sent scandal-plagued Corrine Brown to the sidelines in North Florida. U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson was soundly beaten by Patrick Murphy for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination. Norman’s loss, deservedly, won’t get the same attention those will.

In Hillsborough, though, Norman was a widely known and polarizing figure. After three terms on the county commission, Norman was elected to the state Senate in 2010.

His star appeared to be rising there, but just as quickly began to plummet. He had to run again 2012 because of redistricting, but withdrew following questions about how his wife and late conservative power broker Ralph Hughes worked out a deal for a $435,000 house. There was a controversial trip to Las Vegas where Norman was spotted at a casino with a lobbyist. He was never charged, but did agree to an admission of an ethics violation and withdrew from his Senate re-election campaign.

“I didn’t break the law or I wouldn’t be standing here,” Norman said at a meeting I attended last year at The Tampa Tribune when he announced his commission bid. “But my antenna should have been going up and it didn’t. I’ve learned from my mistakes.”

Voters had learned something too, though.

They learned they didn’t trust him.

Schock hammered that point home during the campaign and it stuck. Norman seemed to sense he was doomed as the last days wound down before the voters made their judgment official. He lashed out as questions about his background kept coming up.

Norman’s gift always was making a person feel like they were the most important person in the room. The problem was, that usually wasn’t the case. Norman actually was a pretty lousy commissioner, too.

During what I thought was a moment of high comedy in his meeting at the Tribune, he declared that sprawl, traffic and unchecked growth were major problems that had to be addressed. Yet, much of that growth came on Norman’s watch, and he was a reliable vote for development without regard to impact.

Scandals aside, Norman came to represent the past — a past voters said had no place in the future.

The race in November for this seat should be close and interesting between Schock and Democrat Pat Kemp. Either one offers a new direction and voice, which is sadly needed on a body that wields much power in a huge county.

And in the end, Jim Norman was doomed by his own voice. The more he tried to talk, the more voters decided they had heard it all before.

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Tim Schock says he’s not surprised he beat Jim Norman so decisively in Hillsborough County Commission race

“Are you Schocked yet? Because we’re just getting started,” declared Tim Schock at his victory party Tuesday night in Tampa, after defeating Jim Norman 62-38 percent in their race for the Republican nomination for the Hillsborough County District 6 seat.

It was Norman’s first ever loss of his political life, and Schock’s first victory in his second bid for public office.

Although there was little public polling to indicate a potential blowout was possible, there were two important straw polls that gave an indication where this race was going. One was at the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee meeting in May, where Schock received 66 votes to Norman’s 13. And earlier this month, at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, a bastion of the GOP establishment, Schock smoked out Norman, 124-58.

Schock also came on strong in the last few weeks of the campaign with a television ad and mailers referencing Norman’s ethics problems which surfaced in 2010. The mailer ready, ““Career Politician Jim Norman, He’s Got A LOT OF BAGGAGE,” and featured quotes from local publications referencing the issue with the Arkansas vacation home that led to Norman being hit with an ethics violation in 2012.

“We ran a really disciplined, diligent campaign. Very strategic, and everything went according to plan,” Schock said late Tuesday night. “And the plan was that we would be coming on so strong at the end that we would have a real surge of momentum of support going into early voting, and we would carry that into Election Day.”

That strategic plan included knocking on 20,000 doors leading up to the primary, a goal his campaign hit over the past week.

Schock will now go on to face Democrat Pat Kemp in the countywide District 6 general election for County Commission. Kemp narrowly lost a similar run for countywide office to Republican Al Higginbotham in the District 7 race in 2014.

Although Schock received more votes than Kemp did on Tuesday night, (38,151 for Schock vs. 29,819 for Kemp), the fact is that there were more Democratic votes overall cast in the District 6 race (66,798) spread out over four different candidates than there were in the GOP contest (61,894).

“We’ll have a great opportunity here to have some really important discussions and debates on some of the core issues that our community is facing,” Schock said of the upcoming campaign against Kemp.

Meanwhile, it looks like the end of the road for Norman in terms of electoral politics. Norman served on the County Commission from 1992-2010. He then went on to win his only bid for state Senate in 2010, but opted not to run for reelection in 2012. His ethical problems were an issue then, but Norman says that the state GOP had redrawn his district in a fashion that would have had him in a tough GOP primary race.

Earlier this month, Norman told this reporter that he hardly ever heard from the voters about his ethical problems, and said it was really only an obsession with the media. That can’t still be his belief after his through defeat on Tuesday night.

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Mitch Perry Report for 8.31.16 – Moving on to November

Good morning, everyone.

Florida’s primary election is history. So, where to begin?

Patrick Murphy will face Marco Rubio in November. Murphy crushed Alan Grayson, 59  to 18 percent, with Pam Keith a close third at 15 percent. Rubio gets credit for honesty, saying that he can’t say for sure that he’ll fulfill all six years of his term if elected, which naturally Murphy is attempting to exploit.

Boy, this race is going to get tawdry.

In what has to be considered a mini-upset, St. Petersburg’s Darryl Rouson holds an ever-so-slight lead over Ed Narain when all the votes were tabulated in last night’s Senate District 19 race. With over 37,000 votes cast on both sides of the Bay, Rouson had 61 more votes, close enough to trigger an automatic machine recount after Thursday. A huge (probable) win for Rouson, and a big loss for not just Narain, but the Florida Democratic Party, who have viewed Narain as an up-and-coming star in the party. He likely will be back, but not in 2017.

Augie Ribeiro did decently in St. Pete in terms of votes, but there was no way he was able to get his name out effectively enough in such a short time. A lot of people are talking today about how big money came up short in this election, but in the case of Ribeiro, he was trying to go from zero to 60 in less than two months.

You don’t have Jim Norman to kick around anymore, Hillsborough Democrats, Republicans and members of the media. That comeback experience ended last night, and now his GOP opponent, Tim Schock, advances to the general election against Pat Kemp. That should be a good battle, and one would think the Hillsborough Dems would get strongly behind Kemp. If not, they’re looking at a board that will have a 6-1 Republican advantage.

Jackie Toledo narrowly edged out Rebecca Smith in the GOP House District 60 race. Congrats to Toledo, who absolutely outworked Smith in the grassroots to get more votes.

The trash talking has already begun in the CD 13 race between David Jolly and Charlie Crist after Jolly cruised to an easy re-election victory in his GOP race for the nomination.

In the end, it wasn’t all that close in South Florida, as former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz defeated insurgent progressive challenger Tim Canova by 14 points, 57 to 43 percent in the race for Congress in Florida’s 23rd District.

Ben Diamond defeated Eric Lynn in the highly competitive House District 68 race in Pinellas County.

Tampa attorney Sean Shaw won a close contest against East Tampa businesswoman Dianne Hart in the House District 61 seat.

Pat Frank whipped Kevin Beckner in the Hillsborough Clerk of the Courts race.

Daniel Webster wins in CD 11.

It wouldn’t be Election Day in Hillsborough County with some report of shenanigans taking place. As this one went, however, it was pretty small potatoes.

Murphy’s comment to us on Monday that he’d likely pursue adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act continues to ruffle the waters, as this statement from Americans for Prosperity Florida indicates.

Sarasota area Republican Alex Miller says she’ll change her main TV ad now that she’s going to the general election in House District 72, after several members of the public stated that they didn’t appreciate her “one of us” tagline.

With a major storm approaching Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn used the occasion yesterday to lobby City Council members to approve his $250 million stormwater infrastructure improvement plan.

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Tim Schock defeats one-time GOP power Jim Norman in Hillsborough primary

The political career of one-time rising Republican star Jim Norman likely ended Tuesday in a resounding primary defeat for a seat on the Hillsborough County Commission.

Norman was soundly defeated by Tim Schock for the right to face a Democratic challenger in November.

“I think the race went according to plan,” Schock said Tuesday evening. “We ran a disciplined, diligent campaign and stayed focused on our message. I think the No. 1 issue with voters was trust and integrity, and that applies to everyone. If you don’t have that, you can’t provide service to the community.”

Norman said in a statement: “It has been an honor to serve the people of Hillsborough County. My heart goes out to the men and woman (sic) serving in our military and our police and firefighters. God bless America.”

Schock hammered Norman on his past ethical issues, including a recent mailer showing suitcases and the caption “Career Politician Jim Norman, He’s Got A LOT OF BAGGAGE.”

That, of course, referred to many questions that arose during Norman’s time on the commission and in the state Senate. They included a trip to Las Vegas where Norman was spotted gambling with a lobbyist who used to regularly appear before the commission, and a controversial $435,000 housing deal in Arkansas between Norman’s wife and powerful political activist Ralph Hughes – a major Norman supporter.

Norman claimed initially claimed he didn’t know about the arrangement. A judge called that “patently absurd” and Norman later admitted to an ethics violation. It torpedoed what looked like a promising career in the Legislature. The scandal forced him to withdraw from the 2012 re-election race just a few days after he qualified to run.

Norman has consistently denied any wrongdoing in those transactions, but voters didn’t buy it. He was soundly defeated in a straw ballot in May at a Republican Party gathering in Hillsborough, and Schock also won the endorsement of the Tampa Bay Times.

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Tom Jackson: Maybe if we thought of primaries as playoffs …

The impression I get is people have the wrong idea about primary elections. To apply a sports analogy, people — I’d call them voters, except they’re plainly not — think of primaries as the exhibition season.

This is not without solid foundation. I mean, they do sort of look like the preseason. Starry-eyed unknowns hoping to take down the veteran; once-storied hotshots looking for one last hurrah. (I’m looking at you, Jim Norman.)

And the way we treat it, it’s like the Grapefruit League and NFL preseason rolled into one: fun to talk about, but if we miss it, meh, there’s always the Big One in November.

Even the name we give it sounds lightweight: the primaries, suggesting nothing more than a scrimmage among unknowns. It’s the I’ll-get-around-to-it-unless-something-else-comes-up election, and given the usual turnouts, something usually does.

Hillsborough County’s elections Supervisor Craig Latimer is pretty fired up that about 104,000 ballots have been cast by mail (76,687) and at early voting precincts (27,667). But even if that number doubles come Tuesday’s Election Day — a stretch, with storms anticipated — it’ll mean only slightly more than a quarter of the county’s eligible voters will have bothered.

In the greater Tampa Bay area, early and mail turnout has been slightly better in Pinellas (19.5 percent) and Manatee (16.6 percent), but it’s worse in Pasco (11 percent) and Polk (9.9 percent).

At least those elections supervisors are reporting numbers. With a website that gives every sign of not having been updated in a month and is otherwise practically indecipherable, how Sarasota County is doing is anybody’s guess.

Moreover, given the number of studies that suggest early and mail balloting do not expand voter participation, but merely front-load it with those who’d otherwise show up on Election Day, it’s fair to predict — for all the hype about how this year is changing the very nature of elections — that nothing, really, is different.

Maybe we’re distracted by the approach of Labor Day. Or settling back into the school routine.

Maybe it’s the candidates, although the race for U.S. Senate scarcely lacks for intrigue, Republicans presenting “Liddle” Marco Rubio versus Carlos “Mini-Donald” Beruff and Democrats countering with Patrick “Never Mind My Resume” Murphy and Alan “I’ll Say Anything” Grayson.

Who wouldn’t want to help decide those? Answer: Close to 75 percent of us. Did I mention Labor Day?

Or maybe it’s a marketing problem.

Maybe if we called this first round something packing a little more brinksmanship, it would better stir the public’s passions. Like, say, “the semifinals.” Or, borrowing from professional sports, which have their conference or league championships, suppose we called them the “Party Championships,” and capitalized them.

Gives you a tingle, right? Makes you feel something important is at stake? Sort of makes you want to throw down? Heck, yeah.

In fact, in most cases, the party championship — excuse me, the Party Championship — is precisely what we’re deciding. What self-respecting major-party member couldn’t get charged up about that?

Add contests for circuit and county judges and the interesting, to say the least, primary election placement of a state constitutional amendment regarding the tax treatment of solar arrays on homesteaded property, and, folks, we don’t just have a major-party playoff happening Tuesday.

We have a playoff with the equivalent of a pregame tailgate party.

And if all that is insufficient motivation, remember this: If you skip out, you’re ceding influence to people who will vote.

Like me.

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Joe Henderson: Some pre-primary thoughts for Hillsborough County

I will be paying attention to a lot of things during Tuesday’s primary election. The weather, however, will not be high on the list.

Even with storms in Tuesday’s forecast, it may not affect the turnout that much.

As of Sunday, voters cast nearly 104,000 ballots in Hillsborough County for the primary election, either by mail or at early voting events like Sunday’s “Souls to The Polls” gathering at two Tampa locations.

As of late afternoon, there were 3,267 votes cast at either the C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library or the West Tampa Branch Library.

“That’s a tremendous turnout,” Hillsborough elections supervisor Craig Latimer said. “I’ve said that Election Day is the last day to vote, not the first.”

Latimer is a relentless champion of early voting, especially by mail. People have been listening. At last count, more than 76,000 ballots had been returned by mail. That could make a huge difference in a primary when bad weather is predicted.

“We’ve been talking about this (weather possibility) for a week now,” Latimer said. “Regardless of the weather, though, a lot of people have already voted.”

MARCO NEEDS A BIG WIN

People will be closely watching what Marco Rubio does in his Republican Senate primary race against upstart (and Rick Scott favorite) Carlos Beruff.

Rubio will win, of course – few people doubt that. He needs a landslide, though. A Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey last week showed Rubio with 61 percent to 22 for Beruff.

That indicates an easy win and Rubio needs that. Anything less could be viewed as a caution flag about his electability in November. Rubio hasn’t been hitting the trail much in these final days, indicating he is comfortable with his position now.

KEEPING IT LOCAL

Veteran Hillsborough County pol Jim Norman, whose promising career in the Florida Senate was sidetracked over questions about a land transaction involving his wife, is in a fight for his political life.

He is hoping to return to the county commission, where he served 18 years before being elected to the Senate in 2010. His Republican primary opponent, Tim Schock, won the endorsement of the Tampa Bay Times, which declared, “This one is an easy call.”

Another political future hanging in the balance is that of outgoing Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin Beckner, who has gone all-in to defeat Democratic icon Pat Frank in their primary for the county clerk of courts office.

Beckner won praise for his work in two terms on the county commission, but has raised eyebrows by going negative on the venerable Frank – including bringing her age (she is 86) into the game. Should Beckner lose, he may have a lot of making up to do with Hillsborough Democrats.

Lastly, keep an eye on Hillsborough school board races involving incumbents Cindy Stuart and Susan Valdes. They were two of the so-called “Gang of Four” (a really unfair moniker) that voted to oust Superintendent MaryEllen Elia in January 2015.

Those opposed to the move vowed, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, vowed revenge at the ballot box.

Here’s their chance.

FINALLY …

This admission from Ed Narain, Democratic candidate for Senate District 19.

Narain was making the rounds Sunday at a “Souls To The Polls” event in east Tampa. It’s worth remembering that in 2012, Republicans tried to limit these traditional events that remain popular in the African-American community.

“We should be trying to make voting easier,” Narain said. “Early voting makes sense, especially in the digital age. I love to vote by mail, but these days I still need to bring my ballot to the polls on Election Day.”

Can’t miss those last-chance opportunities to meet with the voters.

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Mitch Perry Report for 8.25.16 -Is Trump reversing himself on his signature issue of immigration?

Donald Trump was in Tampa yesterday, in case you didn’t hear about it — and he continued to “reach out” to minority communities in his speech. Of course, saying, “I say to the African-American parent, you have a right to walk down the street in the inner city, without having your child or yourself shot” may not be the elixir that persuades anyone to switch sides.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow describes the way Trump is going about it as “urinating on you and telling you to dance in the rain.” Blow says the only people even taking Trump’s outreach seriously are white people.

So does he really think he can get more black voters to his side? The Washington Post reported yesterday Trump has been motivated by a private poll of black voters conducted by campaign adviser Tony Fabrizio.

“The survey found that blacks have a lesser affinity for Hillary Clinton than they did for her husband and that their support dips once they learn about her advocacy for a 1994 crime bill signed by Bill Clinton, according to two people briefed on the poll’s findings,” the paper wrote.

Meanwhile, is Trump “softening” on immigration? Who knows? He did mention he was going to build a wall in his speech in Tampa yesterday, which hardly sounds like he’s backing off. Then again, in the second part of an interview he taped with Sean Hannity on Tuesday that aired last night, Trump’s position seemed to echo that of Jeb Bush‘s — you know, the guy’s whose position on immigration was deemed out of sorts with the majority of the Republican primary electorate last year.

“When I look at the rooms, and I have this all over, now everybody agrees we get the bad ones out,” Trump said. “But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject … they’ve said, ‘Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person that has been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and the family out, it’s so tough, Mr. Trump.'”

Trump received a large round of applause from the studio audience when he said he would make sure those immigrants who could stick around would have to pay “back taxes.” However, that requirement was something that everybody who talks about comprehensive immigration reform says — pay a fine, back taxes, learn English, etc.

Does it matter? It could affect some of his supporters, despite the contention nothing will deter them from supporting him in the fall. Immigration was perhaps the major issue that allowed Trump to break out of the pack of 17 Republicans last summer. The idea that he would attempt to deport 11 million people has always been considered impractical and unfeasible. But to admit it before the election?

In other news …

Among those on the opening bill before The Donald spoke was his good friend and ally, Attorney General Pam Bondi. To commemorate the occasion, the activist group Progress Florida sent out a petition for people to write to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to investigate Bondi’s refusal to go after Trump University in 2013 after her campaign received a financial contribution from a Trump charity.

A group of immigration activists held court in front of the Fairgrounds before Trump’s speech in Tampa.

Jim Norman became a bit hot when asked about the situation that led to his political exile some six years ago at a candidate forum Tuesday night.

At a forum Tuesday night, the Senate District 19 candidates talked about how they’d be able to get Republicans in Tallahassee to go along with proposals to increase early childhood education.

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Watch Jim Norman go off on citizen when asked about Arkansas vacation home

Jim Norman says it’s only the media who cares about the issues behind the Arkansas vacation home that ultimately led to his political exile six years ago, but when asked about it at a community forum Tuesday night, the Hillsborough County Commission candidate got a bit hot under the collar while explaining what happened to a voter.

Norman is running for the Republican nomination for the Hillsborough County District 6 seat against Tim Schock. It’s his first run for office since he announced in 2012 that he would not run for re-election to a state Senate seat he captured in 2010 after an 18-year career on the County Commission.

It was during that 2010 run for state office the news broke that Norman had failed to disclose a $435,000 Arkansas vacation home “given” to his wife, Mearline, by Ralph Hughes, the late east Hillsborough County power broker and longtime friend of Norman. That led to a two-year legal pursuit. A federal grand jury investigated the Hughes-Norman financial deal but did not issue an indictment. In March 2011, Norman did admit his guilt in failing to disclose the information about the house with the Florida Commission on Ethics.

Norman said earlier this month that very rarely does he get asked that question about that situation on the campaign trail, but it was brought up on Tuesday night at the Twelve Oaks Candidate Forum held at the Morgan Woods Recreation Center.

“My wife bought that house, plain and simple, just like you bought yours,” Norman told the constituent. “There’s no funny stuff about it. If there was anything funny about it, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. You know what? I’ve got a letter that said I am 100 percent trustworthy, and 100 percent accurate about what I’m telling you.”

The man in the audience then said, “We have a rule, and the spirit of the rule.”

“No sir, my wife bought that house!” Norman immediately interjected and became increasingly upset, leading him to ask whether it was because he was a “conservative Republican in this town” that doesn’t lead the media to question other candidate or politician’s spouses and their assets.

“How ’bout Bob Buckhorn? Anybody ever call up Bob Buckhorn’s wife and say,’hey, let me look at your assets, let me look at the buildings you bought. Does anybody? And you know what sir? Mine was looked at. And it came back that I was 100 percent telling the truth, and I was 100 percent right. I will tell you this. The check cleared, sir. I bought it. My wife bought and paid for that house, from the estate and the bank.”

Watch below:

 

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Mitch Perry Report for 8.22.16 — Who’s down with TPP?

Good morning, y’all. Welcome to the last full week of campaigning before your Aug. 30 primary election in the Sunshine State.

Before we get into the news of the day, how was your weekend? I went and saw a couple of good, if somewhat overrated movies (“Come Hell or High Water,” “Don’t Think Twice”), and finished reading an underrated novel (Jay McInerney‘s “Bright, Precious Days”).

I also voted, as the majority of Floridians will do, before next week’s primary election. Not much more to say about that, other than I now have to contact the supervisor of elections to return to being a Non-Party Affiliated voter.

One of the issues Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton agree on is they don’t like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the regional trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations.

Although a lot of progressives don’t trust Clinton’s conversion on the agreement and fear she’ll turn around and push for it if she’s elected in the fall, the fact of the matter is, the agreement may already be approved before either her or Trump is inaugurated in January.

As the New York Times Jackie Calmes reports, President Obama will be making a big push for Congress to pass the agreement during the lame duck session of Congress, probably in December.

John Kerry, Ash Carter, Michael Mullen, and former GOP Maine Senator and Defense Secretary William Cohen will also be making the rounds to campaign for the TPP.

Will it be enough? Obama will also have surrogates like Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn pushing that the deal will be good for the Tampa Bay and Florida economy.

But with opposition to trade deals being a major tangible issue that both the far-right and far-left can agree on, can POTUS get that last legislative and diplomatic achievement added to his ledger as he closes out his presidency?

In other news …

A poll published yesterday has Debbie Wasserman Schultz leading Tim Canova in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District by 10 percentage points.

After our story last week about the fact that it looked Eric Lynn and Ben Diamond wouldn’t be engaging in a one-on-one debate before the Aug. 30 primary, we offered up the weekly radio show I host as a possible venue — and the candidates have accepted.

HD 60 candidate Jackie Toledo has been talking tough on immigration, despite the actions of her spouse a few years ago.

Kevin Beckner reacted Friday to Mike Deeson‘s report about the Hillsborough PTC pulling their money out of the clerk of the court’s office.

The candidates in the Senate District 19 race met up at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club forum on Friday.

Tim Schock hasn’t said much about Jim Norman‘s “issues” in their Hillsborough County Commission District 6 Republican race — until now.

Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin was all over the Tampa Bay area this weekend making the rounds for her new book on the U.S.- Saudi Arabia relationship. You can read our interview with her here.

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