Republicans beginning to make peace with Donald Trump as nominee

They thought it was impossible. Some still fear it. Others can barely believe it. But leading Republicans are beginning to accept the idea that Donald Trump will be their party’s presidential nominee.

In the wake of the businessman’s commanding wins in five Eastern states this week, a growing number of national Republicans and GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill say Trump has taken on an indisputable air of inevitability. Some argue they should get behind him now and abandon the “Never Trump” efforts still nursed by some establishment Republicans. Embracing Trump, these Republicans say, may be the GOP’s only hope of blocking Democrat Hillary Clinton in November.

“Donald Trump is going to be our nominee,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott wrote on Facebook this week. “The Republican leaders in Washington did not choose him, but the Republican voters across America did choose him. The voters have spoken.”

“Republicans now need to come together,” Scott wrote, warning that continued opposition to Trump “will be nothing more than a contribution to the Clinton campaign.”

On Capitol Hill, support for Trump has also gotten markedly easier to find.

“I don’t understand. I mean, it’s not ‘Never Trump.’ It’s ‘Never Hillary.’ Never, never, never Hillary. Come on. Wake up and smell the coffee,” said Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, who earlier this week cast his ballot for Trump, along with all members of his large family and 57 percent of Republican primary voters in his state.

“I’ve never seen a party attack one of its own candidates with this aggressiveness,” Kelly said of GOP establishment figures who oppose Trump, blaming it on an elitist Washington attitude out of touch with voters.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a respected senior member of the Senate, previously endorsed Jeb Bush and then Sen. Marco Rubio and said he doesn’t intend to endorse Trump. But Hatch said of Trump, “It looks to me like he’s going to win, and if he does, I’m going to do everything in my power to help him.”

Some leading Republicans have forecast that a Trump candidacy could spell electoral disaster, help Democrats win back control of the Senate and even cost safe Republican seats in the House. They point to Trump’s disparaging comments about women and minorities that have contributed to high unfavorability ratings.

Hatch, along with others, disagreed.

“I think he could be great if he’ll get serious about being president, and I think he will,” Hatch said. “When he gets hit with reality that this is the toughest job in the world, he’s a clever, smart guy who I think will want to be remembered for doing good things, so I have a feeling he can make that transition.”

On Thursday, Trump picked up endorsements from two House committee chairmen: Reps. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, who chairs the Transportation Committee, and Jeff Miller of Florida, who chairs Veterans Affairs. He talked foreign policy in a phone call with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who heads the Foreign Relations Committee. Corker later was full of compliments about Trump, though he said he had no plans to endorse him.

To be sure, not all are on board. Some in the GOP continue to cringe at the thought of vulnerable Senate Republicans and candidates getting linked to Trump’s provocative stances or attempting to distance themselves from them.

“My feeling about Donald Trump is, I don’t think that that’s our best foot forward at all,” said Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, an outspoken Trump critic. “And I can’t imagine being forced to take some of those positions that he’s taken. A ban on Muslims, build a wall and make the Mexicans pay for it, you name it.”

It remains uncertain whether Trump will amass the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination ahead of the Republican convention in Cleveland in July. If he does not, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz hopes to make a play to win the nomination as balloting progresses. Ohio Gov. John Kasich also remains in the race. Next week’s primary in Indiana, where polling suggests a close race, could be crucial in determining whether either Cruz or Kasich can continue to argue they have a path forward.

Roger Villere, longtime Louisiana state GOP chief and one of the national party’s vice-chairmen, said a “clear supermajority” at the Republican National Committee spring meeting earlier this month in South Florida were warming to the idea of Trump as standard-bearer.

“There were a lot of them who Trump wasn’t their first choice, but when we got in closed rooms and everybody started talking, the general consensus was that he’s going to be our nominee, and we will rally around him,” Villere said Friday. “I wouldn’t say it was even reluctance. It’s just the reality.”

Offering a common party refrain, Villere added, “All of our possibilities are clearly superior to what the Democrats have.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Today on Context Florida: Cabinet meeting drama, Carly Fiorina, David Jolly and reproductive freedom

Today on Context Florida:

Monday’s Cabinet meeting was nothing like any of the other meetings. It was dramatic, intense, awkward, and anticlimactic — all at the same time. After four interviews by candidates for the post of Insurance Commissioner, Gov. Rick Scott read from a prepared statement and moved to appoint Jeffrey Bragg—a man whose legal eligibility for the job continues to be murky, and who is reported to have misled investors in a private sector position. The silence was deafening, reports Peter Schorsch.

Darryl Paulson calls Ted Cruz’s choice of Carly Fiorina for VP an act of political desperation. On Wednesday, one week after losing all five primaries in the Northeast and one week prior to the “must win” Indiana primary, Cruz took the unusual step of selecting Fiorina as his running mate. Donald Trump has won 954 delegates and is only 283 delegates short of the 1,237 needed to win the Republican presidential nomination. Cruz has won 562 delegates and has no path to winning the nomination outright even if he sweeps all the remaining contests.

Congressman David Jolly is trying to separate himself from the field of candidates vying to succeed Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. This race seems to hardly register a blip on the political sonar. Despite this, Bob Sparks notes that Jolly took full advantage of multiple opportunities to get his name in front of millions.

Martin Dyckman points out that any law invading the privacy and liberties of American citizens should come into court facing a heavy burden of proof. Does it serve a compelling public interest? Is it the most reasonable — that is, the least restrictive — approach? That’s doubly true in Florida, whose state constitution contains an explicit right to privacy. That’s why the Florida Supreme Court did the right thing last week to put a hold on the Legislature’s latest mean-spirited and colossally hypocritical attack on the reproductive freedom of Florida women.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

Congressional GOP beginning to accept Donald Trump as nominee

Congressional Republicans are beginning to accept, and even embrace, an outcome that was once unthinkable: Donald Trump as the GOP presidential nominee.

In the wake of the businessman’s commanding wins in five Eastern states this week, a growing number of lawmakers say that Trump is taking on an air of inevitability. Some argue they should get behind him now instead of trying to stand in his way, as some establishment Republicans are still attempting to do by backing various “Never Trump” efforts.

For some lawmakers, supporting Trump is seen as their only hope of stopping the Democrats’ likely candidate, Hillary Clinton, in November and ensuring a Democratic president doesn’t fill Supreme Court vacancies.

“I don’t understand. I mean, it’s not ‘Never Trump.’ It’s ‘Never Hillary.’ Never, never, never, Hillary. Come on. Wake up and smell the coffee,” said Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, who earlier this week cast his ballot for Trump, along with all members of his large family and 57 percent of Republican primary voters in his state.

“I’ve never seen a party attack one of its own candidates with this aggressiveness,” Kelly said of GOP establishment figures who oppose Trump, blaming it on an elitist Washington attitude out of touch with voters.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a respected senior member of the Senate, previously endorsed Jeb Bush and then Sen. Marco Rubio and said he doesn’t intend to endorse Trump. But Hatch said Thursday of Trump: “It looks to me like he’s going to win and if he does I’m going to do everything in my power to help him.”

Some leading Republicans have forecast that a Trump candidacy could spell electoral disaster, help Democrats win back control of the Senate and even cost Republicans seats in the House. They point to Trump’s disparaging comments about women and minorities that have contributed to high unfavorability ratings.

Hatch, along with others, disagreed.

“I think he could be great if he’ll get serious about being president, and I think he will,” Hatch said. “When he gets hit with reality that this is the toughest job in the world, he’s a clever, smart guy who I think will want to be remembered for doing good things, so I have a feeling he can make that transition.”

To be sure, not all are on board, and some lawmakers cringe at the thought of vulnerable Senate Republicans and candidates getting linked to Trump’s controversial stances or attempting to distance themselves from them.

“He’s looking more inevitable, yeah. I’ve been wrong all along,” said GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, an outspoken Trump critic. “My feeling about Donald Trump is, I don’t think that that’s our best foot forward at all. And I can’t imagine being forced to take some of those positions that he’s taken. A ban on Muslims, build a wall and make the Mexicans pay for it, you name it.”

It remains uncertain whether Trump will amass the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination ahead of the Republican convention in Cleveland in July. If he does not, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz hopes to make a play to win the nomination as balloting progresses. Ohio Gov. John Kasich also remains in the race.

On Capitol Hill, Cruz remains an unpopular figure, having disparaged party leaders and led the charge to force a 16-day partial government shutdown in 2013 in a futile attempt to cut off money for President Barack Obama‘s health care law.

Former House Speaker John Boehner, who resigned last fall under conservative pressure, lashed out at Cruz in comments published Thursday in Stanford University’s student newspaper, calling him “Lucifer in the flesh” and saying: “I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

Perhaps partly because of Cruz’s unpopularity, it’s getting easier to find leading lawmakers speaking publicly in favor of Trump. On Thursday, Trump picked up endorsements from House committee chairmen: Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, who chairs the Transportation Committee, and Jeff Miller of Florida, who chairs Veterans Affairs.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who heads the Foreign Relations Committee, spoke on the phone with Trump on Thursday and later told reporters they had a good and substantive conversation, though he has no plans to endorse him.

On Trump’s foreign policy speech, Corker said: “Let’s face it, the foreign policy establishment in Washington hasn’t been exactly brilliant in their assessments of things, and I do like the fact that he’s challenging that status quo, I really do. … I think his campaign, like anybody who hadn’t been in the public arena before, is evolving.”

Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida was a leading Rubio backer, but said now “it’s time to move on.”

“The people have spoken. The Republican primary electorate has spoken so he deserves the opportunity to be our nominee,” Rooney said. “If he screws it up as the nominee and hurts the down-ballot ticket, then he screws it up. But right now the people want him to be the nominee.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Marco Rubio falls in Morning Consult Senate approval rankings

Marco Rubio’s presidential bid may have had an impact on his standings in the U.S. Senate.

On Thursday, Morning Consult, a media and survey technology company, released its latest senator approval rankings. The newest rankings grouped Rubio in the bottom 10 senators.

According to the report, Rubio’s approval rating dropped five points since November, down to 5 percent. His disapproval rating increased eight points in the same time span, to 41 percent.

The senator approval rankings were calculated from interviews with 62,288 registered voters across the country in Morning Consult’s weekly online national polling. The survey took place from Jan. 8 through April 17, and their ZIP codes identified voters. Each state’s sample, according to the report, was weighted on gender, age and race using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent population survey.

Rubio was ranked as one of the 10 senators with the highest disapproval ratings, joining Harry ReidOrrin HatchJohn McCain and Pat Roberts. Sen. Mitch McConnell was the least-popular senator, with a 49 percent disapproval rating.

The most popular senator, according to Morning Consult’s rankings, was Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders had an 80 percent approval rating. That’s down slightly from a similar ranking in November, where Sanders held the top spot with an 83 percent approval ranking.

Other senators who were among the most popular in the Morning Consult rankings were Susan CollinsJohn Hoeven, Angus KingPatrick Leahy and Thomas Carper.

The survey found that Sen. Bill Nelson had a 52 percent approval rating and a 24 percent disapproval rating.

For Donald Trump, speech a test of foreign policy and style

Donald Trump‘s highly anticipated foreign policy speech Wednesday will test whether the Republican presidential front-runner known for his raucous rallies and eyebrow-raising statements can present a more presidential persona as he works to coalesce a still-weary Republican establishment around his candidacy.

Trump’s speech will focus on “several critical foreign policy issues” such as trade, the global economy and national security, according to his campaign. But as much as the content will be scrutinized, so, too, will Trump’s ability to deliver his message in a way that comes off as both presidential and authentic to himself.

“This is all part of the normalization effort, or the mainstreaming of Donald Trump,” said Lanhee Chen, who served as 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney‘s chief policy adviser and advised Marco Rubio‘s campaign before the Florida senator dropped out of the race.

Trump has a lot to prove when it comes to calming foreign leaders and policy professionals. They’ve been stunned by his often brash policy proclamations, like his vow to bar foreign Muslims from entering the country, and an apparent disregard for long-standing alliances. Those concerns were amplified when Trump introduced a foreign policy team last month that left many scratching their heads.

Adding to the challenge, said Chen, is that Trump has already articulated foreign policy viewpoints in numerous interviews.

“I think he’s made his views clear,” he said. “The challenge is that there isn’t a lot more he can say that will give people comfort about the way he will conduct foreign policy as president.”

Trump’s speech is expected to be dressed with the trappings of gravitas. It will be held at Washington’s stately Mayflower Hotel (after a last-minute location change blamed on “overwhelming interest”) and will be presided over by Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the campaign. Trump is expected to use a teleprompter, despite the fact that he has mercilessly mocked his rivals for doing the same, declaring at one point: “If you’re running for president you shouldn’t be allowed to use a teleprompter.”

The speech comes as Trump has been working to professionalize his campaign with the addition of several new and experienced aides who have stressed the need to expand Trump’s policy shop and offer more specifics on his plans.

“Tomorrow’s going to be, I think, interesting,” Trump told reporters Tuesday night. “It’s going to be some of my views on foreign policy and defense and lots of other things, and part of it is economics.”

He added, however, that he would not be laying out a “Trump doctrine,” saying that “in life you have flexibility, you have to change.”

Senior aide Paul Manafort said last week that he’d met people at a number of think tanks and members of Congress to talk about bulking up the team’s policy component, which is smaller than that of leading campaigns in the past.

“We’re finding there’s a lot of interest in working with him, coming on board,” he told reporters.

Manafort spent about an hour at the Heritage Foundation headquarters in Washington last week meeting policy experts at the conservative think tank. Heritage officials cast the meeting as part of an ongoing series of briefings for candidates and their advisers.

While Trump’s speech marks a departure from his usual rally routine of speaking off the cuff, consulting only hand-scrawled notes, his remarks in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last month provided a test run of sorts, with Trump speaking from prepared remarks using a teleprompter.

While Trump largely stuck to his speech as he declared his support for Israel and railed against the Iran nuclear deal, he veered off-script after referring to President Barack Obama‘s last year in office.

“Yay,” Trump said, drawing cheers. “He may be the worst thing to ever happen to Israel, believe me.”

The asides prompted an unprecedented apology from the group’s president the next day, saying the committee took “great offense” to criticism of the president from its stage.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Darryl Paulson: Florida’s congressional elections: The changing of the guard

In a typical election cycle, about 90 percent of House members and 70 percent of U.S. senators win re-election. As has often been noted, Americans hate Congress, but love their own representative.

In the 2016 congressional election in Florida, close to half of the delegation will be replaced. As David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report notes, “Florida is primed to have the most turnover in the country.”

Why will Florida experience such unprecedented turnover? The answer: retirements, reapportionment and the quest for higher office.

Of the 27 House seats and one Senate seat up for election, at least 10 and possibly as many as 13 new faces will be in the delegation.

Three house members, all Republicans, have decided to retire. They are Jeff Miller in District 1, Ander Crenshaw in District 4 and Richard Nugent in District 11. Republicans are expected to retain control of all three seats.

On July 9, 2015, the Florida Supreme Court struck down Florida’s congressional district maps in a suit brought by the League of Women Voters (LWV). The Florida House and Senate both drew new maps, but the chambers could not agree on which map to use. As a result, the court used the map drawn by the LWV.

Eight districts were substantially altered (Districts 2, 5, 13, 14, 21, 22, 26 and 27) but 24 of the 27 districts were altered in some way. The four districts that were changed the most were Districts 2, 5, 10 and 13.

Corrine Brown has represented District 5 since its creation in 1992. At that time, Democrats who controlled both houses of the Legislature were unable to agree on the congressional district lines. A retired federal judge drew the lines and, for the first time in 110 years, three African-Americans were elected to Congress from Florida.

Brown’s district, which was anchored in Jacksonville, meandered south to string together pockets of black voters. The judge who drew the lines rejected a proposal to run the district from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. The NAACP opposed the east-west district because of its legacy of discrimination and the fact that many black residents in the district were in prison and could not vote. What was seen as unfair in 1992, the Florida Supreme Court deemed as fair in 2015.

Brown opposed the new boundaries, arguing that it would deprive minority voters of selecting a candidate of their choice. Her attorneys filed numerous objections to the new lines, but courts rejected all of her challenges.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham found that her District 2 seat, which had been a toss-up district when she was elected in 2014, was transformed into a heavily Republican district. Graham announced that she will not run for re-election, but is “seriously considering running for governor in 2018.”

Republican Congressman Daniel Webster found his central Florida district was altered from a slightly Republican district to a heavily Democratic one. Webster announced he will not seek re-election from that district, but will run in neighboring District 11 being vacated by retiring Nugent.

Finally, Republicans have held congressional District 13 since 1954. It was the first Florida congressional district to go Republican since Reconstruction. This Pinellas County district was redrawn from a toss-up district to one that is strongly Democratic. U.S. Rep. David Jolly announced he would not seek a second term in the House, but instead would run for the U.S. Senate seat that Marco Rubio left to run for president.

Rubio’s withdrawal from the Senate resulted in four House members, two Republicans and two Democrats, giving up their House seats to run for the Senate. Jolly and Ron DeSantis, both Republicans, and Democratic House members Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson are vying for Rubio’s seat.

Even with the high turnover, Democrats are expected to win only two more House seats than they now hold. The present alignment is 17 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

Will so many new faces have any significant impact on Florida? The answer is yes. Even though Florida has the third-largest congressional delegation by size, it will likely lose political clout.

The new House members will be at the bottom of the pecking order. They will have the last choice in committee assignments and virtually no power that comes from chairing full and subcommittees.

The next Congress will experience major changes and no state will experience more change than Florida.

***

Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

Carlos Beruff suggests banning people from the Middle East from entering United States

One U.S. Senate hopeful wants to ban people from the Middle East from entering the United States.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Carlos Beruff responded to a question about his position on Muslim immigration by saying he didn’t think it was safe “to allow anybody from the Middle East into this country.”

Beruff spoke to a crowd of about 200 Broward County Republicans on Monday night, according to the report. He said he thought the immigration system was broken, and that entry to the United States should be banned until it was fixed.

According to South Florida Sun-Sentinel, when asked by a reporter about his position, Beruff said: “I think it’s pretty simple. We have a system that doesn’t work. When they fix that, I don’t care. But right now we have a terrorist threat that’s very real. You want to ignore it, but I don’t.”

The Sun-Sentinel reported that Beruff said he would apply the ban to “pretty much anybody that’s got a terrorist organization in it, which is pretty much all of the Middle East.” This prohibition, however, would not apply to people from Israel. The ban would apply to Christians and Muslim.

The Florida Democratic Party hit back Tuesday, saying Beruff made it clear that he lacks the temperament and common sense to represent Florida. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, also condemned Beruff’s comments, saying his statement wasn’t just disgraceful but “flat out un-American.”

“As a nation of immigrants, our country was founded on the principles of diversity and tolerance,” said Murphy in a statement. “It’s what makes America truly great. Mr. Beruff’s asinine comments and out-of-touch values are not just dangerous to our democracy, but are absolutely unacceptable for any candidate who wants to represent Floridians in the U.S. Senate.”

Murphy also called on every Senate candidate to condemn Beruff. Murphy faces Rep. Alan Grayson in the Aug. 30 primary.

Beruff, a Manatee County homebuilder, is one of five Republicans running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Marco Rubio. He’ll face Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox in the Aug. 30 primary.

Fox’s Sean Hannity at center of bitter campaign competition

Sean Hannity is getting a bruising reminder that this year’s presidential campaign defies traditional political rules.

The Fox News Channel and radio host had a nasty spat with Sen. Ted Cruz this past week, following criticism from both the left and right about his interviews with Donald Trump. Fox also aired the odd spectacle of Hannity sitting onstage with Trump as an audience booed lustily at the mention of Fox colleague Megyn Kelly‘s name.

In an election year when cable news networks are enjoying a bump in viewership, Hannity is a key man for Fox, and his audience is growing more quickly than Kelly’s and Bill O’Reilly‘s. They precede Hannity in Fox’s prime-time lineup.

Fox declined to make Hannity available for an interview for this story.

Hannity’s relationship with Trump became an issue when the liberal website Thinkprogress.org published a story that wondered how Hannity had been able to interview Trump so much without making news, and quoted exchanges that depicted a friendly relationship.

Trump had been a guest on Hannity’s Fox show 32 times before last week’s town hall in Pittsburgh, according to the host’s records.

Hannity has said on his radio show that he does not support one Republican over another.

The attack didn’t seem to surprise Hannity, who noted the website’s ties to Hillary Clinton supporters. The story, however, was picked up and amplified by the conservative, anti-Trump website Redstate.com.

During Hannity’s recent Trump interview, he pressed for specifics on how the candidate would help people economically in that part of the country and how his Mideast policies would differ from President Barack Obama‘s.

About Trump’s claims that some delegates were being snatched, Hannity said, “Clearly there are people who want to circumvent and disenfranchise the voters. What do you say to them?”

He asked him to detail Clinton’s weaknesses, and there was an uncomfortable moment where he asked Trump to reveal what unflattering nickname he would try to stick on Clinton like he did with “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz.

Trump wouldn’t say, but promised Hannity he’d be the first to know.

By Hannity’s count, Cruz had appeared on his television show 34 times since Cruz announced his candidacy. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, still in the race, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is not, had been on the show 20 times, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, another dropout, making 19 appearances.

On his radio show, through last week, Cruz had logged more interview time than any other candidate — more than 188 minutes on the air. Trump’s 112 minutes were third behind Rubio.

“I’m just going to remain neutral and give you access to the candidates, because no one else is doing it,” Hannity said. “At the end of the day, if it’s Cruz or Trump who is the nominee, I’m going to support them because it would be a disaster if Hillary Clinton becomes president.”

When Cruz this past week seemingly made a reference to Hannity’s critics in a radio interview, the host flashed annoyance.

After Cruz called a Hannity question about the fight for delegates part of a silly media obsession, Hannity pressed the point.

“The only people asking this are the hard-core Donald Trump supporters,” Cruz said.

“You’ve got to stop,” Hannity replied. “Every time I have you on the air and I ask you a legitimate question, you throw this in my face, and I’m getting sick of it. I’ve had you on the air more than any other candidate.”

The unabashed conservative makes no secret of his views, and he appeals to a like-minded audience.

In last week’s Trump interview, when Hannity asked about the candidate’s private meeting at Trump Tower with Kelly on April 13, the pro-Trump crowd booed at the mention of her name. Kelly has come under constant criticism from Trump since she asked him a question he didn’t like last summer.

Neither man spoke about the audience’s reaction. Trump smiled. Hannity, who was largely off camera, appeared to make a “stop” motion with his arms.

It was an audible manifestation of a delicate problem for Fox.

Kelly, Fox’s brightest new star, has come under relentless criticism from Trump, and many Hannity fans are siding with the GOP front-runner instead of the network long loved by Republican viewers.

Given that Trump seems to feel comfortable on Hannity’s show, the veteran talk show host is an important asset for Fox in a combustible campaign.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

New Hispanic public affairs show debuts in Florida

A new Spanish-language public affairs show directed at Hispanics in Florida debuts Sunday.

WLTV-23, the Univision affiliate in Miami, announced Friday that “Al Punto Florida” will be hosted by Univision 23 anchor Ambrosio Hernandez and Mariana Atencio, of Miami-based cable network FUSION. The one-hour show will be broadcast, beginning at 11 a.m., on five Univision affiliates: Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and Miami.

Hernandez says the show will analyze issues through interviews and journalistic reports on newsworthy topics in Florida and in Latin America. He added in a statement that politics will play a key role in the program, noting Sen. Marco Rubio will be its first guest.

The show is modeled after Univision’s “Al Punto,” a national public affairs show hosted by Univision anchor Jorge Ramos.

Republishing with permission of the Associated Press.

Florida lawmakers support presidential candidates, but forgot to vote in primary

Florida legislators may have publicly backed a presidential candidate, but new research finds that several lawmakers failed to vote in the state’s primary election.

Noah Pransky of WTSP reports that a number of lawmakers — just like in 2012 – simply did not take part in Florida’s March 15 presidential preference primary, including four from Miami-Dade County: Republican Rep. Erik Fresen, Democratic Reps. Daphne Campbell, Cynthia Stafford, and State Sen. Gwen Margolis.

Fresen had endorsed Marco Rubio, who lost Florida and ended his campaign soon afterward. Stafford and Margolis endorsed Hillary Clinton, the winner of the Democratic primary.

Although failing to vote in the primary were Republican Reps. Ben Albritton and Halsey Beshears as well as Democrat Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, Pransky writes.

State lawmaker’s 96 percent voting rate was much higher than four years earlier, with a 90 percent recorded voting rate – the 2012 primary had only Republican participation.

As for the state’s top leaders, each one voted in the PPP: Gov. Rick Scott, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

In response, Pransky notes that Rehwinkel Vasilinda explained in a tweet she didn’t vote as a protest over “closed primaries.”