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Mitch Perry Report for 11.22.16 — The sad story of Chris Christie

There’s no doubt Rudy Giuliani will get some meaty position in the upcoming Donald Trump administration, because the dude was loyal as hell to the president-elect throughout the past year.

Chris Christie, on the other hand, may be looking at bupkes.

The New Jersey governor was one of the first mainstream Republicans to endorse Trump, which he did after he flamed out in the New Hampshire primary. Since that time, reporters have had a field day blasting the one-time fierce (bullying?) New Jerseyite for being a “manservant” to Trump (there even was an unfortunate rumor that Trump had summoned Christie to fetch him McDonalds).

But things have gone downhill for awhile for Christie in terms of where he’s at with the new leader of the free world. Sure there’s been tension forever between him and Jared Kushner, going back to Christie’s days as a federal prosecutor in the aughts sending Kushner’s pop to prison on charges of tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions, but there also were multiple media reports last month that Trump was not pleased to learn what was unearthed during the Bridgegate trial that saw Bridget Kelly, his former chief of staff, be convicted in federal court for her involvement in the scandal, which could send her to prison for 20 years.

And then there was this, from today’s NY Times:

Mr. Christie’s fall in the Trump circle was weeks in the making. There was already grumbling, particularly from former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, and from Mr. Trump’s children. Mr. Christie, they believed, had gone off-message after an “Access Hollywood” tape was released in which Mr. Trump made vulgar comments about women; the governor first canceled Sunday show appearances, then emerged on the radio the next week to call Mr. Trump’s comments “indefensible.”

No, in that crucial time for Donald Trump, Chris Christie wasn’t the loyal foot soldier Trump apparently demands. If you’ll recall, Giuliani was the only surrogate from the Trump campaign to make the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows less than 48 hours after that story went viral on Oct. 9. Even Kellyanne Conway was MIA from the airwaves that weekend.

But in the case of Christie, maybe, just maybe, he couldn’t look himself in the mirror (or his wife and kids) and try to some how spin anything positive about those stunning remarks, dismissed as “locker room talk” by Trump and his allies.

Team Trump apparently wasn’t too pleased with Christie’s work on the transition pre-Election Day, as many members of that squad were former lobbyists — not the way to start out a new administration from someone who called for “draining the swamp.”

There was also a report of Christie trying to nudge his way into the picture frame when Trump gave his speech after winning the general election, when reportedly he hadn’t been seen helping the campaign for weeks.

So all of that is to say that Christie may not get anything from Trump as he goes about naming his Cabinet. A tragedy? Not really, but still sort of ugly to watch it all play out.

In other news …

Kathy Castor says she will work with President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress if the opportunity presents itself. She’s also mum on whether she’ll vote to retain Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader.

Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg was in Gitmo last week to attend a hearing one of the suspects being held at the U.S. prison in Cuba. He added that the man’s trial is not scheduled for another three years.

And your Florida Legislature is in Tallahassee today — all 160 of them elected earlier this month — if not earlier during the primary season.

Jim Davison blasts the Tampa Bay Times and his opponent in next month’s Tampa City Council District 7 election for its recommendation of Luis Viera.

And Tampa will play host to the National League of Cities annual convention  in 2020.

Kathy Castor says she’ll work with Donald Trump and GOP majority in Congress ‘If there’s an opportunity’

Kathy Castor says the voters in Florida’s 14th Congressional District re-elected her to get things done in Washington and, when she can, she’ll work with the Donald Trump administration and GOP Congress. But she’ll also resist them, depending on what policies they propose.

“People elected me to solve problems and if there’s any opportunity to do that with President Trump and a Republican Congress, that’s what I’m going to do,” she said Monday. “But I’m not going to compromise the values that this community holds dear. Whether that’s taking our Dream Act students and not deporting them, or fighting for higher wages, the Democratic Party is the party of working people and I’m going to continue to stand up for their interests against the system.”

Yet despite that perception, Hillary Clinton’s failure to win rust-belt states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan in the election has led to the accepted perception the Democrats have lost their way with working people.

In Boston on Sunday night, Bernie Sanders said the party has to return its focus to the working class.

“The working class of this country is being decimated — that’s why Donald Trump won,” Sanders said. “And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down.”

“All I know is that every week when I’m in Washington D.C. we’re standing up to moneyed special interests and for some reason that’s not being communicated,” Castor says. “For example, they want to give massive tax breaks to big corporations and the top one percent. That’s not going to help working class people or working people, and what I’m afraid is that the Congress that has passed draconian budgets and tried to keep all the benefits for the wealthiest in the country, that they kind of play on Trump and take advantage of him and the people who elected him. We’re going to be pointing these things out.”

Next week Castor and her Democratic colleagues will vote on whether to retain Nancy Pelosi as their leader, or go in a different direction. Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan has announced his candidacy to challenge Pelosi, the 76-year-old San Francisco congresswoman who leads the Democrats in the House of Representatives.

Castor said she is undecided, but said there’s value in having a female leader.

“The party needs different leaders,” she acknowledges. “It’s time for a younger generation of leaders to run for local office, to get involved in local issues and state issues. But there is one consideration about who is going to be in leadership in Washington. President Trump, Chuck Schumer, Sen. McConnell, Paul Ryan. What do they have all have in common?”

She then answered her own question. “There is a lot of value in having a female leader,” before insisting that she hasn’t made a final decision on who should lead the caucus.

Speaking in Peru Sunday, President Obama said he was reticent to “meddle” in party votes while still in office, but went on to say that he “cannot speak highly enough” of the woman who a decade ago became the first female House speaker. “She combines strong progressive values with just extraordinary political skill, and she does stuff that’s tough, not just stuff that’s easy,” Obama said of Pelosi.

Avis Harrison endorses Jim Davison in Tampa City Council District 7 contest

Jim Davison has picked up the endorsement of Avis Harrison in his race against Luis Viera for the Tampa City Council District 7 runoff election next month. Harrison is the second candidate in the original field of six to now back Davison, following Cyril Spiro‘s endorsement earlier this week.

“I have been able to speak with Jim and his competitor in this election and believe that Jim has far more experience and is truly concerned with helping ALL of District 7,” Harrison said in a statement posted on Davison’s website on Wednesday night. He took the time to talk with me and understand the issues that I am passionate about and hear the concerns of my voters.”

Harrison came in third in the contest last week with 16 percent of the vote. Her support — along with Spiro’s previously declared endorsement — presumably should aid Davison now as the race settles down between two candidates.

Viera is being backed by the woman who held the seat for the past five-and-a-half years, Lisa Montelione. He also has the backing of Congresswoman Kathy Castor. 

Although a nonpartisan race, Davison is a Republican and Veira a Democrat. Both live in the Hunter’s Green section of New Tampa.

District 7 runs north from Waters Avenue to County Line Road and includes Forest Hills, Terrace Park, the University of South Florida, and New Tampa.

 

House approves Kathy Castor bill promoting concrete masonry, manufacturing jobs

The U.S. House passed a bill sponsored by Democratic Florida Rep. Kathy Castor Wednesday that would boost construction jobs and help develop better building materials.

“Local manufacturers and many across Florida worked diligently with me to boost jobs in the concrete masonry industry through this legislation. If signed into law, businesses will have the ability to pool resources for research and to develop safer, more durable, and more efficient products which would be a boon for building construction,” Castor said. “This bill supports an industry made up of primarily small, local businesses that create local jobs in the competitive construction market.”

The House voted 355-38 in favor of Castor’s bill, which she called a “win for jobs and our local manufacturers. The bill would put a one penny assessment on all concrete blocks sold, to fund research, education, and promotional programs for concrete manufacturers.

“Buildings made of structurally strong materials, such as concrete block, are vital to reduce the impacts of property insurance losses as the climate changes and Florida experiences more extreme weather events,” the CD 14 Democrat said. “Producers also will be able to develop durable, energy-efficient and affordable products that are better able to withstand volatile weather conditions in their particular regions, such as seismic events in the West or extreme weather in the Southeast.”

The bill now moves on to the U.S. Senate.

Lisa Montelione backs Luis Viera in runoff for Tampa City Council

Lisa Montelione, who represented District 7 for the past five and-a-half years before stepping down two weeks ago to run for a state legislative seat, is backing Luis Viera in the runoff election to succeed her.

“Luis is an outspoken advocate for Tampa’s families and has a dedicated record of working for this community,” Montelione said in a statement issued by the Viera campaign. “Luis Viera’s involvement in our community through work with the City of Tampa’s Civil Service Board, Tampa Hispanic Bar Association, and his tireless service with the Lawyers Autism Awareness Foundation make him the best candidate to represent all of the neighborhoods in District 7. New Tampa, North Tampa, and all of District 7 deserve the kind of leadership and vision that Luis Viera will bring to City Council.”

Viera finished second behind Jim Davison in the District 7 election last week, but no candidate in the six-person field received the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. On Monday Cyril Spiro, who finished fifth in the race, endorsed Davison.

Although the race is nonpartisan, you can bet it will become more so by the time of the Dec. 6 election. Davison is a Republican, and Viera a Democrat who had previously been endorsed by Congresswoman Kathy Castor and City Council Chairman Mike Suarez.

“I’m honored to announce that my campaign has been endorsed by former Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione,” Viera said in a statement. “Councilwoman Montelione joins a growing list of elected officials and community leaders supporting our campaign, including: Congresswoman Kathy Castor, City Councilman Mike Suarez, the Tampa Bay Builders Association, and both Tampa and Hillsborough firefighters.”

Montelione announced a year ago she would run for the House District 63 seat, and was allowed to sit on the board until last month. She ended up losing a close race to Republican incumbent Shawn Harrison, 51 percent to 49 percent.

With the exception of Spiro, no other candidate who lost last week has announced who they will support in next month’s contest.

Davison received 31 percent of the vote last week. Viera was second with 22 percent.

Viera has consistently led the field in fundraising, and has now raised $79,459. That includes a $1,000 contribution last week from lobbyist Louis Betz.  

Conversely, Davison has received the least amount of contributions of the six candidates running, which obviously didn’t hurt him last week. He’s raised at this date a total of $13,395.

Davison tweeted this morning that he has invited Viera to debate him on Tuesday, Nov. 29, a week before the run-off election.

Pat Kemp defeats Tim Schock in Hillsborough County District 6

Democrat Pat Kemp defeated challenger Tim Shock for the Hillsborough County Commission District 6 seat.

Kemp had 55 percent of the vote for a solid victory.

Voters had two strong choices in this countywide race.

Kemp, who narrowly lost to Republican Al Higginbotham in 2014, had transportation as her main issue. She has long been a vocal advocate for solutions to the area’s top long-term issue that goes beyond adding new roads.

She advocates stronger growth management policies to help control urban sprawl, which contributes to transportation problems.

Kemp also has been a voice for transparency in government and diversity. She is a former aide to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and the former chair of the Hillsborough Democratic Party.

Schock, a small-business owner who has never held elective office, soundly defeated veteran Jim Norman in the primary. He, too, listed transportation as a major issue.

“It’s a quality of life issue. It’s about getting to work on time, getting home on time, being with our loved ones on time. That’s really what this is about,” Shock said in a video posted on his website.

“The goal for our transportation system has to be free-flow mobility, the ability to move people efficiently and effectively around our county — and in doing so, reduce our overall traffic congestion. It’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem, and it’s something we can no longer ignore.”

Schock advocated a regional solution for transportation, especially in the Hillsborough suburbs.

Kathy Castor, Dennis Ross returning to Congress

In a pair of results that could not be called surprising, Democrat Kathy Castor and Republican Dennis Ross won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Castor took about 61 percent of the vote in her race, while Ross took 58 percent.

Neither race was expected to be closely contended.

Castor, a liberal Democrat who was facing political newcomer Christine Quinn in the race for Florida’s 14th Congressional District, will be starting her sixth term in Congress.

Ross faced Democrat Jim Lange for the right to represent CD 15, covering parts of Polk and Hillsborough counties. It was a mismatch. Ross raised more than $1.1 million to about $35,000 for his opponent. Ross will be returning to Congress for a fourth term.

He is a senior deputy whip for the Republican leadership.

Castor was first elected in 2007 after serving four years on the Hillsborough County Commission. She has been a champion for health care, LGBT rights, women’s issues, and the normalization of relations with Cuba.

She also worked to secure funding for the I-4 connector road with the Selmon Expressway in Tampa.

In October, she announced a $6 million grant to Hillsborough Community College to boost STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities for Hispanic students.

Ross, a Lakeland native whose district covers Polk County, was first elected to Congress in 2010 after two terms in the Florida House.

Mitch Perry Report for 11.4.16 — What will be this year’s decisive October surprise?

It was the Thursday night before the 2000 general election when Fox News’s Carl Cameron reported George W. Bush had been arrested in 1976 in Maine on a DWI case. It was definitely an “October surprise,” and it definitely seemed to stop Bush’s momentum in that contest — a contest in which he ultimately lost the popular vote, but took the Electoral College after a 36-day recount.

On the Friday night before the 2004 election, the late Osama bin Laden released a tape, aired by the Arab television network Al-Jazeera, where he spoke directly to the American people. He admitted for the first time that he carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and said the attacks would have been less severe if Bush had been more alert. John Kerry later said he believed that tape cost him the election against Bush.

The big news that could affect this year’s election appeared to have happened last Friday afternoon at approximately 1 p.m. Eastern, when Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz tweeted , “FBI Dir just informed me, The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.” Case reopened.”

Whether that announcement is the ultimate game-changer preventing Hillary Clinton from winning the general election remains to be seen. “Big Mo,” however, doesn’t seem like it’s with the Democrat this morning, as she’s now resorted to spending considerable time on the stump disparaging her opponent, when less than two weeks ago she said she was done talking about him.

Then again, the ultimate October surprise may end up being the revelation first reported at approximately 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, when The Washington Post reported on and posted a video of Donald Trump making lewd comments about women on tape from 2005.

Depending on who is announced as the victory late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, one of the two above listed events will need to be placed prominently on the epitaph of the losing candidate.

Unless something else pops this weekend, which couldn’t possibly happen. Could it?

In other news …

Making his final pitch in the HD 63 race, Shawn Harrison slams Lisa Montelione’s attendance record on the Tampa City Council, as well as her votes on the city’s budget and raising parking fees.

Tampa City Council members Charlie Miranda and Mike Suarez say, as children of immigrants, they reject Donald Trump’s divisive language on the subject.

CD 14 Republican candidate Christine Quinn is hyping her endorsement from a veterans group in her race against Kathy Castor.

Charlie Crist added $5,500 to his campaign account Wednesday.

And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is airing radio ads in St. Petersburg this weekend featuring Barack and Michelle Obama to try to drive up the black vote for Crist.

Veterans group backing Christine Quinn over Kathy Castor in CD 14 race

Christine Quinn, the Republican running against Democratic incumbent Kathy Castor in Florida’s 14th Congressional District next week, has received an endorsement from a veteran’s nonprofit group criticizing Castor for not being responsive to their previous outreach. However, the group itself has been labeled by the Tampa Bay Times as one of the worst charitable organizations in the country.

“In 20 years of making endorsements for federal office, rarely has the Center for American Homeless Veterans found such a decisive and compelling case for the endorsement of a federal candidate,” said Brian Hampton, the president of the Center for American Homeless Veterans (CAHV) in announcing its support for Quinn. “CAHV gives its absolute and emphatic endorsement to Christine Quinn to be elected to the Congress, where voters can be assured that she will be a stalwart champion for American veterans.”

The Center for American Homeless Veterans is an advocacy organization (a nonprofit 501 (c)(4)) that educates the public about homeless veterans and creates awareness of solutions to this problem. They publish, print, and distribute The Veteran’s Vision and they outreach to Congress regarding the needs of homeless veterans.

It also does business as American Homeless and Disabled Veterans (AHDV), and also goes under the Association for Homeless and Disabled Veterans.

In his statement, Hampton criticized Congresswoman Castor’s office for ignoring his entreaties.

“During the spring and summer of 2016, CAHV contacted the leadership of incumbent Congresswoman Kathy Castor’s campaign four times, making phone calls, asking for the candidate’s platform on American veterans, and inviting her to affirm the Veterans’ Bill of Rights (VBOR).

“The opponent’s campaign manager could not be bothered; they did not respond, and they did not take calls after plenty of details were provided. The leadership and mentality of a campaign come from the top. Based on the evidence, the documented and clear conclusion is that Kathy Castor is unresponsive for American veterans.”

In 2014, the Tampa Bay Times listed the group in its report on America’s worst charities, claiming that their charity tax filing in 2010 was for less than $3,000.

Castor is predicted to defeat Quinn in next week’s election. Although redistricting has made it less Democratic leaning, it’s still considered a very safe seat for the Democrats.

A call to Castor’s campaign office was not immediately returned on Thursday.

Congressman, civil rights icon John Lewis: Vote, vote, vote

Charlie Crist
Charlie Crist

Civil rights icon John Lewis, now a congressman from Georgia, came to St. Petersburg on Wednesday to support former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Crist, a Democrat, is running against Republican incumbent David Jolly for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Lewis, who has represented Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since 1986, said he had followed Crist’s career.

“I’m delighted and very pleased and honored to be standing here with you,” Lewis told Crist. “I’m here to support you. I’m looking forward to getting things done.”

Lewis said Crist could help make things better not only for the CD 13, but also the state of Florida and the U.S.

Crist said he was “grateful beyond words” for Lewis’ support. If elected, he said, he looked forward to working with Lewis.

The two spoke at a press conference outside the Greater Mount Zion AME Church, 1045 16th St. S. The two had been part of a meeting and prayer inside the church before speaking. Others who joined them included former St. Petersburg Council Member Wengay Newton, who is running for state House District 70, and Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor was unable to attend but sent a representative from her office.

Lewis was not in town only to support Crist. He also urged residents to get out and “vote, vote, vote.”

A vote “is powerful,” Lewis said. He added, “I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma for the right to vote.”

Lewis was referring to an incident on March 7, 1965, that has become known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Lewis and Hosea Williams, another civil rights advocate, had planned to lead 600 peaceful, orderly protestors in a march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in Alabama. They got as far as the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma when state troopers and local police blocked the way and demanded they turn around. When they refused, they were tear gassed and beaten with billy clubs.

A successful march was held later that month with federal protection. And, that August, the Voting Rights Act was passed.

Lewis was also scheduled to appear at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus to discuss civil rights. Later, he was scheduled to tour Jordan Park.

Early voting in Pinellas ends Sunday. Election Day is Tuesday.

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