Marco Rubio endorsed by National Association of Realtors

Sen. Marco Rubio has scored the endorsement of the National Association of Realtors.

The Rubio campaign announced Friday the Republican incumbent received a unanimous recommendation from the Florida Realtors RPAC Trustees.

“Sen. Rubio has been a strong voice for realtors and homeowners, including an active role in the effort to protect the mortgage interest deduction and establishing fair and affordable flood insurance,” said Matey Veissi, the president of the Florida Realtors in a statement. “Sen. Rubio has most recently been working in the Senate to push for passage of legislation to broaden the flood insurance marketplace and lower rates.”

Rubio announced in June he was running for re-election, and easily won his Republican primary. He’ll face Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Treasure Coast Democrat, in the Nov. 8 general election.

The race is one of the most-watched Senate races in the country, and could play a role in determining control of the U.S. Senate.

The race is expected to be close. A recent survey by the Florida Chamber Political Institute showed Rubio leads Murphy, 46 percent to 42 percent. Eleven percent of Floridians polled said they were undecided.

The poll of 617 registered voters was conducted from Sept. 15 through Sept. 20. The survey had a margin of error of 4 percent.

The National Association of Realtors is one of the nation’s largest trade associations with about 1.1 million members. “I look forward to working with Florida realtors as I continue to earn the support of voters across the state and fight for Florida’s families,” Rubio said in a statement.

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Marian Johnson: Donald Trump needs to get out white voters; Hillary Clinton, independent voters

The close presidential race in Florida offers two very different paths to victory for the candidates, with Donald Trump‘s campaign needing to bring out white voters and Hillary Clinton needing to appeal to independent voters, according to Florida Chamber of Commerce polling guru Marian Johnson.

Johnson laid out the latest findings of the chamber’s political polling Thursday night at the Future of Florida Forum in Orlando, showing Democrat Clinton with a two-point lead overall in a Sept. 16 survey, a five-point improvement for her since an Aug. 16 poll.

The polling shows both candidates are enormously unpopular, but both getting 78 percent of their party base. They’re fighting at this point over 6 percent of voters who declared they are undecided, said Johnson, the vice president for political operations for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson got 8 percent in the latest poll and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, 4 percent.

“This race is just too close to call,” she said at the chamber’s leadership banquet.

The two major candidates each have paths to victory, she said: Trump, who leads among white voters 51 to 34 percent, has to turn out white voters in the election. Clinton leads in almost every other demographic, but finds surprising strength among independent and third-party voters, leading Trump 45 to 25 percent in the chamber poll, she said.

But that does not include many young voters.

“There is no definitive direction. I can tell you Hillary is not getting the millennial vote. She is not going to get the millennial vote. They’ll just undervote,” Johnson said. “They don’t interpret her as being sincere. She says the right things to them, but they are not interpreting her as sincere at all.”

Chamber polling also showed voters down on both U.S. Senate candidates, Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and his Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, with both of them getting slightly more unfavorable than favorable ratings. Overall, Rubio holds a four-point advantage, 46 percent to 42 percent, and Johnson predicted Rubio would win, though she added that it is a race “that is probably going to go down to the wire too.”

All Florida Constitution amendment issues on the ballot appear to be passing.

Amendment 1, dealing with solar energy, is getting 66 percent approval and just 18 percent disapproval. Amendment 2, medical marijuana, has 73 percent approval and 23 percent disapproval. Amendment 3, tax exemptions for disabled first responders, has 85 percent support. Constitutional changes need 60 percent of the vote to pass.

Johnson said there appears to be little change in the wind in the makeup of the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives. So many seats already have been decided, and so few are in play, she said. Republicans certainly will retain control of both houses.

Another finding of the polls indicates Floridians are feeling better about themselves and their futures. 39 percent now say they are better off than before and another 37 percent, “about the same.” That means only 24 percent feel they are worse off, a strong improvement over recent years.

Gov. Rick Scott is benefiting from that, as voters now believe he’s doing a good job. His job performance approval now is positive by 10 points, even though voters still do not like him personally, with a slight majority still having an unfavorable opinion of him.

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NRA targets Patrick Murphy in new ad

Patrick Murphy is being attacked for defending Hillary Clinton’s role in Benghazi in a new television ad now airing in Jacksonville, Panama City, and Pensacola.

The ad features Mark “Oz” Geist, a retired Marine involved in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi that led to the deaths four Americans, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

“Hillary Clinton’s State Department denied requests for more security,” Geist says in the ad.

“Then she lied to protect herself.”

The ad then cuts to a quick shot of a grinning Murphy saying, “Hey, Hillary, I don’t think you did anything wrong.”

“Congressman Murphy’s weakness is a threat to your freedom,” Geist says ominously.

The NRA Institute for Legislative Action paid for the ad.

Murphy is running against Marco Rubio in the race for U.S. Senate in Florida.

 

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PPP Florida poll gives slim lead to Hillary Clinton, 7 points to Marco Rubio

Hillary Clinton enjoyed a slim lead over Donald Trump in a Public Policy Polling survey of Florida voters released Thursday.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio extended his lead over Democrat Patrick Murphy in their race to seven points when respondents were asked to choose between the two and Libertarian Paul Stanton.

Rubio pulled 42 percent support compared to 35 percent for Murphy and 9 percent for Stanton, with 15 percent undecided.

In a head-to-head match between Rubio and Murphy, the Republican leads 47-44 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

In the presidential race, Clinton pulled 45 percent support compared to 43 percent for Trump, 3 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson, and 1 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

In a head-to-head match, Clinton led Trump, 48-45 percent.

The survey of 826 likely voters was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday on behalf of VoteVets.org Action Fund with a plus-or-minus 3.4 percent margin of error.

Public Policy Polling surveyed voters in five battleground states and found solid leads for Clinton in Colorado (46-40 percent in a four-way match), Pennsylvania (45-39 percent) and Virginia (46-40 percent).

She enjoyed a modest lead in North Carolina (44-42 percent in a four-way contest).

“If these results hold up, Donald Trump has no path to victory,” Public Policy Director Tom Jensen said in a written statement.

Among the Floridians surveyed, 52 percent thought Clinton won Monday night’s debate, compared to 35 percent for Trump. The other states surveyed returned roughly similar results.

Clinton picked up support among voters under 30; they favored her over Trump by 64-23 percent.

Among women, 59 percent viewed Trump unfavorably compared to 49 percent for Clinton. Among men, half said they didn’t care for Trump. Forty-seven percent of women chose Clinton in a four-way match, as did 42 percent of men. Trump enjoyed 50 percent support among men.

Asked whether Trump was prepared to be president, 55 percent of the Florida respondents said no; whether he has the temperament to hold that office, 53 percent said no; and whether he could be trusted with nuclear weapons, 52 percent said no.

Half thought Clinton was prepared for the office; 51 percent thought she has the right temperament, and 49 percent would trust her with nuclear weapons.

In Florida’s U.S. Senate race, Rubio led even though most respondents, 52 percent, disapproved of his job performance; 32 percent approved and 16 percent weren’t sure.

Murphy, who has represented Florida’s 18th Congressional District since 2013, was also underwater in this regard: 35 percent viewed him unfavorably and 27 favorably, with 38 percent unsure.

Respondents were asked whether they favored a proposal in Congress to privatize Veterans Affairs benefits via a voucher system. Only 10 percent in Florida strongly supported the idea. Seventeen percent were somewhat in favor; 18 percent somewhat opposed; 43 percent strongly opposed; 12 percent were not sure.

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DCCC pushes total Charlie Crist ad buy to $2M, sending mixed signals in CD 13

National Democrats are boosting former Gov. Charlie Crist with another $462,000 of TV advertising in the race against incumbent Republican David Jolly for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

The extra cash – coming from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee –  could result in a “lopsided air war in the Tampa Bay area,” writes Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida, which could represent either an opportunity for Republicans or a sign of trouble for Democrats.

All told, Crist supporters have reserved $2 million in TV ad time in the race, with only about $310,000 for Jolly.

Part of the problem, Caputo notes, is how Jolly has been at odds with National Republican Congressional Committee, which is, for the most part, staying out of the race. Jolly has been branded a “liar” by the NRCC earlier this year for promoting his controversial “STOP Act” on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” program.

“Jolly’s own party appears to have given up on him and Charlie Crist is in a strong position to win FL-13, but Democrats won’t take anything for granted,” DCCC spokesman Jermaine House told POLITICO. “The voters of Pinellas County know David Jolly’s real record, including the fact that he’s supported overturning Roe v. Wade, raising the retirement age for Social Security, and has voted against increased VA funding.”

Jolly’s campaign is portraying the influx of support as a sign of trouble for Crist, particularly since recent polling has the two of them virtually tied.

“Charlie Crist is in trouble,” said Jolly campaign manager Max Goodman. “The DCCC knows it. Why else would the national committee pull money away from Patrick Murphy to try to save Charlie?”

Crist’s advertising advantage seems to come at the expense of Patrick Murphy in the race to unseat Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

The DCCC ad time was formerly reserved for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – to run Oct. 10-17 to support Murphy. As Murphy trails Rubio in recent polling, the DSCC canceled its buy, replaced by the DCCC for Crist.

Democrats are eyeing CD 13 as a good chance for a pickup in the U.S. House, especially since redistricting – and the inclusion of the many African-American voters in South St. Petersburg – made it much more Democratic. Also, as a St. Petersburg native, Crist has near-universal name recognition and a distinct home-field advantage.

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President Obama signs Florida disaster declaration

It’s been a long time coming, but President Obama signed off Wednesday on declaring a major disaster exists in Florida, ordering federal aid to areas affected by Hurricane Hermine earlier this month.

Obama’s actions now make federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Citrus, Dixie, Hernando, Leon, Levy, and Pasco.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding will also now be made available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Hurricane Hermine in the counties of Citrus, Dixie, Franklin, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Pasco, Pinellas, Suwannee, Taylor, and Wakulla.

“Hurricane Hermine was the first hurricane to hit our state in over a decade and following the storm, I met with many businesses and families who were severely impacted,” said Governor Rick Scott. “While the state immediately stepped in to provide resources and assistance to families, this funding will help our local communities rebuild.”

The federal response comes eight days after Scott wrote a toughly worded letter to the president, where he said that there had been more than $36 million in damages due to the effects of Hermine. And he noted how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) neglected to aid Florida for numerous incidents over the past year after the state requested assistance.

The governor referenced a handful of events, beginning with severe flooding the state suffered in August of 2015, to the fallout of extreme El Nino-led rainstorms in January and February of 2016, to tornadoes that affected several Florida counties, as well as damages incurred from June’s Tropical Storm Colin.

Scott also cited the lack of any federal help after the Pulse nightclub shooting in June in Orlando, which led to the deaths of 49 people, the deadliest single-gunman massacre in U.S. history; nor from the toxic algae bloom that emanated near Lake Okeechobee earlier this summer.

“During the preceding 12 months, the state of Florida experienced repeated emergencies that required the deployment of significant state resources,” Scott wrote. “Individually these incidents may not have overwhelmed the ability of the State of Florida to respond. Cumulatively, however, these emergencies significantly impacted the state’s capability to provide financial support following Hurricane Hermine.”

Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio also wrote to the president requesting federal aid.

FEMA head Craig Fugate has named Terry L. Quarles as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

FEMA said residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

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Patrick Murphy Spanish radio ad hits Marco Rubio on Planned Parenthood, abortion

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy‘s first Spanish radio ad is about Planned Parenthood and woman’s choice for abortion, attacking his opponent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for opposing both.

Murphy, of Palm Beach Gardens, attempts to link Rubio and Republican presidential nomineeDonald Trump, as the ad accuses them both of wanting to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, putting at risk a variety of noncontroversial women’s health services the organization provides. But at the same time, the ad is not shy about addressing abortion directly.

“Marco Rubio has consistently opposed basic rights for Florida women, and this new ad makes that clear,” Murphy campaign spokesman Freddy Balsera stated in a news release issued by the campaign. “Rubio wants to defund Planned Parenthood and take away a woman’s right to choose even in cases of rape or incest. He stands with Donald Trump.”

In the minute-long commercial Protegerá [protect,] a woman narrator decries, in Spanish, the positions taken by Rubio and Trump, interspersed with English statements by Rubio and Trump illustrating their positions.

A Rubio campaign spokeswoman said the ad distorts Rubio’s record but did not specify how.

“Patrick Murphy is distorting Marco’s record like he distorted his own resume. Not only does Murphy support using taxpayer money to fund abortions, he also supports late-term abortions. Murphy’s extreme positions on abortion put him out of touch with the vast majority of Floridians,” Olivia Perez-Cubas stated.

In the ad, the narrator declares, “Thousands of Florida women rely on Planned Parenthood for critical health services, like cancer screenings. But Donald Trump and Marco Rubio want to defund Planned Parenthood — putting women’s health at risk.”

“Planned Parenthood should absolutely be defunded,” Trump says.

“I’m gonna vote to defund it,” Rubio says.

“Worse, Rubio he would take away a woman’s right to choose for victims of rape or incest,” the narrator adds. “And while Florida struggles with the Zika virus … Rubio would even take away the right to choose her medical services for infected women. Patrick Murphy will protect women’s health. That’s why President Barack Obama and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorse Murphy for Senate.”

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Senate Leadership Fund takes aim at Patrick Murphy over Iran deal

A conservative super PAC is focusing on Rep. Patrick Murphy’s support of the Iran nuclear deal.

Senate Leadership Fund launched a new ad Tuesday aimed at highlighting his support of the nuclear deal. The 30-second spot, according to the Tampa Bay Times, will run on cable and broadcast in Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.

The ad criticizes Murphy for support of the Iran nuclear deal.

“They still chant ‘death to America,’ help kill our troops and sponsor terrorism,” a narrator says in the ad. “But Patrick Murphy supports the dangerous nuclear deal that releases billions of dollars to Iran and puts Iran on the path to nuclear weapons. Murphy supports this bad deal, even though Iran keeps building weapons and brags about restoring the nuclear program.”

It ends with the narrator saying: “Don’t take the risk with Patrick Murphy.”

Murphy faces Sen. Marco Rubio in the Nov. 8 general election.

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Mitch Perry Report for 9.27.16 – The ‘what difference does it make?’ debate

Was it as good as you hoped it would be, America?

For months, people have talked about how they could not wait to watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump battle it out in their first presidential debate. We all know that excitement wasn’t because of Clinton’s sterling debate style. No, it was because of the unknown about how The Donald would perform.

And … ?

Let’s put it this way: Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, just said on MSNBC this morning that Clinton failed to deliver the knockout punch. Absolutely true; so is that how we’re grading this thing?

Look, under any which way you score a debate, Mrs. Clinton had the winning hand. But as Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush can tell you, traditional scoring points don’t necessarily mean much in debating against Donald J.

Conservatives are upset at the question selections offered by moderator Lester Holt — no Benghazi, no Clinton Foundation, no immigration. But as some said about the criticism of NBC’s Matt Lauer after the “Commander in Chief” forum, if you’re complaining about the moderator, you’re probably losing.

Many of the questions did put Trump in a vise — his explanations for not disclosing his income taxes felt hollow (where he boasted about not paying them), and his attempt to blame Sidney Blumenthal and Patti Solis Doyle regarding where Barack Obama was born seemed weak.

On style, it was interesting to see how long Trump would stay relatively subdued before he became the more blustery, bombastic candidate who dominated most of the Republican presidential debates in 2015 and early 2016.

The momentum has been moving Trump’s away in the past two weeks. Does that get stalled now? Does Clinton pick up some of the undecided voters, or Berniebros flirting with Jill Stein and/or Gary Johnson?

So many questions. My favorite line this morning, though, is the phrase “this really doesn’t change much.”

Then why all the hype in the first place?

In other news …

House District 68 Republican JB Benshimen insists he’s still in it to win in in his race against Democrat Ben Diamond, but his poor fundraising numbers aren’t encouraging.

Dover Republican Ross Spano’s House District 59 seat is one Democrats are targeting this fall. He tells us what he’s done in office since his 2012 election.

Former Pasco County DEC Chair Alison Morano is now leading a group targeting Marco Rubio for his past statements regarding Social Security.

Today is National Voter Registration Day, and various Latino advocacy groups are working on signing up people to vote in advance of Florida’s Oct. 11 deadline.

And Dana Young gets the firefighters unions in Tampa and Hillsborough County’s endorsements in the Senate District 18 race.

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Joe Henderson: 5 things we’re curious about the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump debate

Things we are curious about for the Trump-Clinton I: The Debate.

The television audience

How many people will be watching? Well, a lot – that’s for sure. Some predict the audience could exceed 100 million people. The record audience for a presidential debate is 80 million people for Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter in 1983. By comparison, the audience for the first 2012 debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was 67.2 million. Even at 100 million though, Clinton and Trump will have to go some to top the 115 million people who watched the Broncos and Panthers February in the Super Bowl. It could surpass the 105.9 million people who watched the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983, which was the most-watched regular TV show ever. For both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, this likely is their best (and last) chance to make a dynamic impact. Even though there are two more scheduled debates, it is likely neither will be watched as closely as this one.

Lester Holt

Being the moderator at an event like this is almost an impossible task, especially considering the volatility of emotions from supporters of either candidate. Lester Holt accepted the seat on the dunk tank for this one and both camps already raised doubts about him. He can expect to have more barbs thrown in his direction if he challenges either candidate on their answer or if, like Matt Lauer, he lets things pass. Trump already labeled Holt a Democrat (he’s a registered Republican), and since facts don’t much matter in social media, that’s red meat for the hungry hordes. If either candidate, but most likely Trump, decides to make Holt an issue during or after the debate, Twitter might explode.

What’s at stake for Florida

With polls showing a tight U.S. Senate race between Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy, a bad performance by either candidate could create a down-ballot tsunami that swamps either Senate candidate. Rubio could have the most to win or lose there, since the person at the top of his party’s ticket is potentially volatile. If Trump appears presidential and in control, it could be a boost to Rubio’s campaign. But if Trump is goaded into saying something stupid, or worse, Republican candidates everywhere could be affected – including Rubio.

What they need to show

Clinton is on a tightrope. Likeability is one of her major deficiencies according to the polls, but even with the need to gain wider acceptance she can’t just let Trump walk on her. On the other hand, Trump trails by large amounts among women and various minority groups. That creates a special dilemma. He has gotten this far by stoking anger among white males against immigrants, against – well, basically anyone who doesn’t look or talk like them. But he also can’t win in November unless he cuts into Clinton’s margin with all those groups. Trump also needs to show that he has a mastery of the complex global and domestic issues that would confront an American president, although saying “Make America Great Again” without explaining how he would do that has served him well so far.

Oh those pesky facts

One of the great unknowns is the impact of real-time fact-checkers. This has the potential to really mix things up, especially if Holt decides to engage either candidate on misstatements. Trump likely would be the one affected most by this, given his penchant for making statements that get graded pants-on-fire. Even if Holt decides to stay out of that arena, social media will be a major part of this debate and people there aren’t known for their restraint when someone is guilty of a lie or gaffe.

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