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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Tim Schock reminds voters of Jim Norman’s ‘baggage’ in new mailer

Jim Norman said earlier this month that he’s rarely asked by Hillsborough County residents about the ethical issues that dogged him several years ago. But if the public doesn’t remember the incident that tripped him back in 2010, a new mailer issued out by Tim Schock, his GOP District 6 opponent in this month’s primary election, will surely remind them.

Shock’s mailer features a series of suitcases plopped atop another with the headline, “Career Politician Jim Norman, He’s Got A LOT OF BAGGAGE.”

It also cites quotes from local publications, such as a Tampa Tribune, that “he proved himself untrustworthy … arrogance and ethical indifference grew along with his political success.” Another from the then-St. Petersburg Times reads, “Feds seek records in probe of Jim Norman’s conduct as Hillsborough commissioner.”

Norman served on the county commission from 1992-2010. During his campaign for the state Senate in 2010, his campaign was buffeted by reports about a longtime supporter purchasing a vacation home for his wife. Although he won the seat that year over Republican Kevin Ambler, he opted not to run for re-election in 2012 after admitting to ethics violations regarding the Arkansas home.

“I had an opponent who makes an allegation, I went through the process, and I was 100 percent cleared,” Norman told this reporter earlier this month when asked if he hears much about the issue on the campaign trail. “The news media is the only one that hasn’t really caught on to that fact.”

There hasn’t been any public polling on the race, but Schock has defeated Norman in a few key straw polls this campaign season, including a Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Hob Nob and a Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee meeting.

Neither Schock nor Norman was available for comment.

Registered Hillsborough County Republicans will decide on the contest on Aug. 30.

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Brian Willis airing new TV ad in Hillsborough Commission race

Early voting begins in Hillsborough County on Monday. And with just 15 days to go before Election Day, Brian Willis is going up on TV in order to boost his visibility in the Hillsborough County District 6 seat contest.

The 33-year-old attorney won the recommendation of the Tampa Bay Times editorial page last month, and that paper’s imprimatur plays a starring role in the 30-second ad, which also features a photo of him as a youth growing up in Carrollwood, walking along the Riverwalk with his wife, and visiting his grandfather in East Hillsborough County.

Wills has raised more than $105,000 in the contest, the most of the four Democrats competing for the nomination on Aug.30.  That’s also not that far off of Republican candidate Jim Norman’s take – Norman has raised more than $120,000, but more than two thirds of that amount ($80,000) came in his first month of fundraising last September.

Wills is running against Pat Kemp, Tom Scott and John Dicks. The Democratic nominee will take on either Norman or Tim Schock in November.

Here’s the ad:

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Hillsborough Commission candidates talk Black Lives Matter, climate change

Progressives call it one of the most exciting and dynamic new civil rights movements in years. Conservatives call it anti-police, racist – and worse.

We’re talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, and at a NAACP-sponsored candidates forum in East Tampa Thursday night, four of the six candidates on the ballot in the Hillsborough County District County Commissioners race were asked their thoughts about the group, and how they were part of the coalition to push for a citizens police review board in Tampa last year.

“Black Lives Matter,” declared Tampa attorney Brian Willis, at 33 by far the youngest candidate in the race. “It’s been a really vital movement, and I’ve been excited to watch it unfold.” He added that while there’s been tremendous growth in downtown Tampa, “we did not see the same investment in this part of the community.”

Willis came back to Black Lives Matter in his closing statement, saying that meant that “we need to pay attention to all of our communities, and if some of them need special attention, then they’re going to get it.”

Tom Scott, the only African-American candidate in the race and the oldest at 62, said the movement reminded him of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. “They have a constitutional right to be out on the street,” he said of the activists. A senior pastor at 34th Street Church of God, Scott talked about how members of the clergy have been key in working with other members of the community to attempt to find a peace between law enforcement and black youths in East Tampa.

“The Black Lives Matter did a wonderful job bringing forth issues that were really unknown to a lot of people,” said former Plant City Mayor John Dicks, who displayed a calming, folksy attitude during his time on the big stage. He said it was important to have more communication between different members of the community, and like Scott, grew nostalgic when he talked about being around the era when civil rights for blacks were flourishing in the country.

Tim Schock was the only Republican on the dais (Jim Norman was a no-show). He didn’t directly respond to the question.

“This office is about representing all people,”Schock said to the majority black audience. “What that means is…I believe it’s very important that we’re empowering our local communities,” he said.”It’s very important that we empower our small and midsize businesses to create jobs, to create career opportunities. I believe we really can create and empower those businesses, and all of our citizens to seize every opportunity that they have.”

Pat Kemp was late  to the panel event and did not have an opportunity to answer the question posed.

The candidates were also asked about climate change.

“I just started my collegiate career as a physics major,” said Schock, “So, I never discount science and the impact.”

“Step one is having leaders who are going to say that climate change exists,” said Willis.

Kemp called the issue of climate change one of the greatest issues facing Floridians today, and boasted about her platform to have the county becoming 100 percent renewable energy. “We can get our energy from the natural resources we have, and that’s good local jobs and really help our economy by going solar.”

Scott referred to the fact that the Board of County Commissioners acts as the Environmental Protection Commission. “That’s a tool that we can use and set policies to make sure that our climate is protected.”

Dicks said he was amazed that there are still people in 2016 who deny the existence of climate change. A farmer, Dicks said that he’s been using solar and wind power on his farm in Plant City for years. “It’s highly effective. We need to do more.”

During his concluding remarks, Scott emphasized his experience as a former county commissioner. “Send me back to the County Commission so I can continue to do what I’ve done in the past,” he said, using his name in the third person to describe what he’s done in the past on jobs, transportation and the issues.

Dicks said that there wasn’t a “dime’s worth of difference” on the issues between the candidates, but those in attendance thought otherwise, picking Scott as the winner of the race in the straw poll that was conducted. Kemp was second, Willis third, Schock fourth, Jim Norman fifth and Dicks came in sixth.

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Joe Henderson: Jim Norman’s climb to Hillsborough Commission steeper than he realized

Since the start of his campaign for Hillsborough County Commission District 6, Jim Norman has understood that he has a lot of explaining to do.

Right off the bat, he tried to address his checkered political past during a meeting last year with The Tampa Tribune editorial board.

As a metro columnist for that late, great newspaper, I sat in on the meeting.

I think it was basically a fiasco.

It’s not that Jim Norman isn’t one of the most likable people on the surface that you will ever meet. He is a salesman, and the product is himself. But as he hawked his wares that day, it kept coming back to that suspect deal where the late power broker and businessman Ralph Hughes gave Norman’s wife a $500,000 personal loan to buy some fancy digs in Arkansas.

Hughes was notable for, among many other things, having his name removed from the county’s “Moral Courage Award” following a public outrage. Norman was the commissioner who nominated him.

When details of the housing transaction became public, Norman – by then a rising power in the Florida State Senate – saw his political future dashed on the rocks. That was in 2012. He decided, wisely, not to run for re-election to the Senate, where it is entirely possible he would have been the president. That could have set him up to run for governor or even the U.S. Senate.

Instead, he is running now for a seat on the county commission, where he served 18 years before moving on to Tallahassee. His campaign began amid some fanfare, with donors pledging more than $100,000 in the first two months, about four-fifths of that in September.

One of the $1,000 donations came from Cast-Crete, a company Hughes owned.

Since then Norman has hit a wall, raising only about $20,000 as questions about his electability increased.

Republican challenger Tim Schock has all the momentum now for the Aug. 30 primary. Schock won the endorsement of the Tampa Bay Times and Monday, as reported by FloridaPolitics.com reporter Mitch Perry, basically doubled up Norman in a straw poll at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Political Hob Nob.

Unscientific or not, the poll showed the hill Norman has to climb may be steeper than even he realized.

During that meeting last year at the Tribune, Norman tried to confront his history. He quickly pointed out that he had passed a polygraph regarding his wife’s arrangement with Hughes, and the U.S. Attorney’s office investigated and decided to charge Norman with any wrongdoing.

It still looked, and looks, fishy.

At least as big an issue, though, is Norman’s record on the commission. He voted consistently in favor of developers, while helping turn Hillsborough into a misshapen hodgepodge of subdivisions, strip malls and car-clogged roadways.

He said he will do things differently this time if elected.

Although it was generally assumed Norman would be a formidable candidate, it is starting to look like he might not get that chance.

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Hillsborough County Republicans to gather in South Tampa to watch final night of RNC

While it’s been well noted that there are many Republicans not in Cleveland this week for the RNC (hello, David Jolly), there are many others in the Tampa Bay area who might have wanted to attend, but aren’t delegates or don’t want to spend the money that it requires to travel to the Buckeye State.

A number of these Republicans will gather Thursday night in Tampa at a “Unifying for America: Trump for President” convention watching party at 81 Bay Brewing Company, beginning at 6 p.m. That’s at 4465 W. Gandy Blvd.

Among those in elected officials scheduled to attend to watch Donald Trump give his acceptance speech include Marco Rubio, Florida House Majority Leader Dana Young and County Commissioner Sandy Murman.

There will be plenty of Hillsborough GOP candidates there as well: CD 14’s Christine Quinn, House District 60 candidates Rebecca Smith and Jackie Toledo, County Commission candidates Jim Norman and Tim Schock, Property Appraiser candidate Todd Jones, Eric Seidel, who is running for Clerk of the Courts, and school board candidates Stanley Gray and William Person.

The Master of Ceremonies will be Retired Lieutenant Colonel Steve Emerson with the U.S. Marines. WFLA 970’s Tedd Webb will also be in the house.

Admission is free, but those who wish to attend are being asked to register here.

 

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Brian Willis gets PBA endorsements in Hillsborough County District 6 race

The Police Benevolent Association’s West Central Florida and Tampa Chapters have endorsed Democrat Brian Willis in the highly competitive Hillsborough County Commission District 6 race.

“We know Brian is a leader that will take action to build safer and stronger neighborhoods and fix our broken transportation system. We trust Brian to put the community first when he is on the commission,” said Nick Marolda, President of the West Central Florida Chapter of the Police Benevolent Association. “Willis has built a strong, countywide campaign that is in the best position to communicate to voters and win in August and November.”

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the men and women of these police unions. I am thankful for the work they do every day to keep our community safe and their continued work building relationships with people in every neighborhood,” said Willis.

Willis notes in his statement that he has more cash on hand that the rest of the Democratic field in the District 6 contest, which includes Tampa attorney Pat Kemp, former Commissioner and Tampa City Council member Tom Scott, and former Plant City Mayor John Dicks. His overall total of more than $97,000 raised is second of all the candidate in the contest, trailing only Republican Jim Norman, who has raised a total of $119,000 to date.

A St. Pete Polls survey released last month shows Kemp leading the in the Democratic race. Team Willis strongly disputed the findings of that survey, saying that because St. Pete Polls doesn’t include cellphones in their sampling, they missed out on the younger demographic that would be more favorable to his candidacy. In response, Willis released an internal poll to the Tampa Bay Times that actually shows him leading in the contest.

The winner of the Democratic Primary on Aug. 30 will take on either Norman or the other Republican in the race, Tim Schock, in the fall.

 

 

 

 

 

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Poll shows Pat Kemp leading in Democratic race for Hillsborough County Commission District 6 race

A survey conducted last week by St. Pete Polls shows Pat Kemp leading in the Democratic primary for the Hillsborough County Commission District 6 countywide contest.

The survey, commissioned by strategist Barry Edwards, shows Kemp leading with 34 percent support.

Former County Commissioner and Tampa City Councilman Tom Scott is second with 24 percent. Former Plant City Mayor John Dicks is next at 6 percent, and attorney Brian Willis is at 4 percent.  Thirty-two percent of those questioned are uncertain about who to support.

Edwards says that he has done two earlier polls on the same race over the past year, and says the results have been fairly consistent. One aberration, he says, is that Willis favorability numbers have dropped in recent months, with 13 percent having a favorable viewpoint on his candidacy now, and 17 percent unfavorable (70 percent are unsure).

“He strung himself to Go Hillsborough, and that was a bad thing to attach himself to,” Edwards says, referring to Willis support for the half-cent transportation tax that county commissioners again decided not to put on the November ballot last week.

Dicks is also upside down in terms of his favorability rankings, with a 13/16 percent favorable/unfavorable ranking (70 percent are unsure about his candidacy).

Kemp has by far the best favorable/unfavorable rankings with 35 percent favorable, 14 percent unfavorable, and 50 percent unsure. Scott is next best, with a 32/22 percent favorable/unfavorable ranking, with 46 percent unsure.

Scott is dominating with black voters in the poll, leading among that demographic with 60 percent support to Kemp’s 23 percent.

Edwards says Kemp has the best name recognition of all the Democrats in the race. “She was just on the ballot in 2014, where she lost by half-a-point to Al Higginbotham. So she got a huge amount of name ID built up,” he says.

And he says the fact that Scott has been on the ballot so many times over the past two decades helps his name recognition tremendously. “He’s been on the ballot six times,” Edwards says.

The poll of 502 Democrats was conducted on June 7 and has a 4.4 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level. Only those who voted in the Democratic primary election in 2012 and 2014 were included in the results.

The four candidates are competing in the Aug. 30 primary, with the winner to face the winner of the Jim Norman/Tim Schock Republican primary.

 

 

 

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