Marco Rubio Archives - Page 6 of 196 - SaintPetersBlog

Will Weatherford’s timing off, but only for the moment

Like comedy, politics is most often all about timing. No one knows this better than Will Weatherford, who at the age of 26 rocketed from obscure legislative aide to Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives because of unanticipated, but perfectly placed, events (more about which in a moment).

Now, arguably, this once-rising star of the Republican Party has fallen victim to his breathtaking start. In short, two years after he surrendered the gavel as America’s youngest state House speaker, Weatherford has nowhere to go.

The man said so himself Thursday afternoon:

“While I’m compelled at some point to re-engage in the political arena, I just think the timing right now is not right,” he told the Miami Herald.

At least, nowhere to go that strikes him as being worth the harrowing trade-offs. Thus, shall Weatherford, not so long ago included in everybody’s lists of top politicians under the age of 40, apparently skip the inviting 2018 races, ostensibly to concentrate on business opportunities with brothers Drew and Sam, leadership development within the Florida Republican Party, and — most important — join his wife, the redoubtable Courtney Bense Weatherford, parenting their four young children in their Southern-Living designed neighborhood in Wesley Chapel.

It’s not like Weatherford’s preferences for 2018 haven’t been an enticing target. As recently as Thursday morning, “The Fix,” a Washington Post politics blog, listed him prominently among probable candidates for Florida’s open gubernatorial seat.

Now, despite having jammed his chin into the mix last summer — “Don’t count me out,” he said on the podcast hosted by fellow SaintPetersblog contributor Joe Henderson and me — Weatherford has audibled out, perhaps sensing the defense was stacked against him.

He would, of course, be right. By training — he was a Jacksonville University linebacker — and instinct, Weatherford knows when a play won’t go.

Polk County’s Adam Putnam, the Agriculture Commissioner and presumed GOP frontrunner, opens with better name recognition, a wider base of contributors and the advantage of having twice won — handily — statewide races.

Moreover, if he has flaws, they are less obvious than those of Bill McCollum, the last Central Florida GOP frontrunner in a race for an open governor’s seat. And Weatherford lacks Rick Scott’s self-funding prowess.

Ah, yes. Rick Scott. And his enormous pile of campaign cash left over from 2014.

If he didn’t seek the Governor’s Mansion, conventional wisdom went, Weatherford surely would chase the Republican nomination to sideline Democrat Bill Nelson, Florida’s senior U.S. senator. Republicans had to like the prospects of a Weatherford-Nelson tussle, which would have contrasted the challenger’s youth and conservative bona fides against the septuagenarian representative of an increasingly hard-left partly

But there’s Scott, the two-time governor and early ally of President-elect Donald Trump — whom Weatherford prominently opposed — who’s widely rumored to be angling for a shot at Nelson. And did I mention his enormous pile of leftover campaign cash?

So here is Weatherford, still just 37, deciding to bide his time. Yes, his announcement Thursday cited specifically only the contest for governor, but there was a blanket nature to it as well:

“My focus right now is on raising my family, living out my faith, and growing my family’s business. I look forward to supporting Republican candidates that share my conservative convictions and can keep Florida headed in the right direction.”

Show of hands. Who else detects the careful phrasing of someone who has spent the last two years learning about how to invest?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that the arc of Weatherford’s political career has, to now, suggested, if not impatience, then at least alacrity.

After all, things fell just so to get him launched: Then-Gov. Jeb Bush nominated state Rep. Ken Littlefield to the Public Service Commission after the ballots were printed in 2006, leaving the Pasco County Republican Party to identify Littlefield’s stand-in and successor.

Several prominent east Pasco volunteers were passed over in favor of Weatherford, who grew up the oldest of nine children in Land O’ Lakes but, with college and assorted jobs in the Legislature, hadn’t lived in the district in years.

On the other hand, he had the benefit of being Speaker Allan Bense’s top lieutenant and son-in-law. One thing led to another and — badda-bing — there was Weatherford, winning election under Littlefield’s name one day and rounding up the commitments from fellow House freshmen to become speaker-designate-designate-designate the next.

So fast. So very, very fast.

Still, the Sunshine State politician to whom Weatherford has most often been compared — Marco Rubio, Florida’s once-and-still junior U.S. senator — learned a tough lesson about being a young man in a hurry earlier this year. Sitting out 2018 might well mean Weatherford spent the autumn channeling Yogi Berra, who famously noted “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

So, 2018 isn’t Weatherford’s time. That doesn’t mean his time won’t come.

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Will Weatherford’s decision enhances, not removes, future options

I think Will Weatherford’s just-announced decision not to run for governor in 2018 merely delays the inevitable. I believe he will be Florida’s governor eventually, and that will be a good thing.

Weatherford, the Land O’Lakes Republican, is a smart, articulate, center-right conservative in the Jeb Bush tradition. He has a strong legislative resume, including a turn as House Speaker. At age 37, he also is young enough that he can afford to wait eight years, which is another way of saying “Merry Christmas, Adam Putnam.”

The sea certainly does seem to be parting among Republicans for Putnam to make his move on the governor’s mansion. Florida CFO Jeff Atwater has shown no appetite for the job. Attorney General Pam Bondi is more likely targeted for a job in Washington.

Weatherford would have been a formidable challenger, but says his top concern right now is family.

He has four children – the oldest is 8, the youngest is 2. Last year he and his brothers Drew and Sam launched Weatherford Partners, a venture capital group, and serves as managing partner. Tellingly, he did not fall into the Republican conga line in the presidential race. He said he did not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

His decision to sit out the governor’s race this time removes a lot of drama, for sure. Weatherford and Putnam are pals, but so were Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and we saw how that went.

If Weatherford had gotten into the race, it could have gotten bloody for Republicans. Having two candidates as strong and well-known as Putnam and Weatherford could have split the party, but what this does is increase the likelihood of a Putnam coronation for the nomination.

It allows Putnam to stay low-key for the next year or so, stockpiling cash and support while waiting for the Democrat slugfest between Gwen Graham (assuming her husband’s prostate cancer doesn’t worsen) and possibly Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Weatherford can campaign now for Putnam, and wouldn’t a photo of the two of them together on a platform make for a mighty fine poster for Republicans?

Weatherford will need to find a way to stay in the public eye. As he saw with Jeb Bush, sitting on the sidelines for too long in politics means someone else is getting all the headlines. A cabinet job or gubernatorial appointment to a public post could both keep him in the news and allow him to tend to family matters.

Deciding for now to wait doesn’t remove Weatherford’s options. If anything, it enhances them. If his aim is to one day sit in the governor’s chair – and, really, why wouldn’t it be – then stepping back now doesn’t hurt his chances one bit.

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Marco Rubio rolls out staff changes

Two familiar names will have shifting roles in the office of Sen. Marco Rubio, as the Florida Republican prepares for his second term.

Alberto Martinez, who had been chief of staff, will become a senior adviser to the senator.

And Rubio’s 2016 campaign manager, Clint Reed, will take the chief of staff position.

Rubio offered comment on both moves via press release.

“For the past ten years, going back to my time in the state house, Albert has been a trusted and loyal advisor on policy, politics and communications. I am extremely grateful to him for his loyal service and the outstanding job he did managing my Senate office over the past two and a half years, a period where we passed more bills into law than any other during my term,” Rubio said of Martinez.

Rubio also addressed the move of Reed from the campaign side to the policy sphere.

“For over a year, I’ve gotten to know and work closely with Clint on my campaigns, including two in Florida. He’s a superb manager who loves Florida, has earned my trust, and relishes the challenge of solving tough problems,” Rubio said of his new chief of staff. “The next six years will undoubtedly present many challenges but also incredible opportunities to make an even bigger difference in the lives of Floridians and people throughout the country, and I’m excited to be surrounded with a team of devoted professionals who are passionate about public service.”

In 2013, Martinez became the first Cuban-American to serve as a chief of staff in the U.S. Senate and had been a long-serving adviser to Rubio.

Before being chief of staff, he served as deputy chief of staff in the Senate office and was a senior advisor to Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC and the 2012 Romney for President campaign. Previously, Martinez served as communications director for the Republican majority during Rubio’s term as speaker of the Florida House. In 2009, he stepped down as chief of staff to the majority whip in the Florida House to work as a senior adviser to Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign.

Before his work with Rubio, Martinez served as deputy speechwriter for Governor Jeb Bush and Florida communications director for President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004.

Reed most recently managed Rubio’s successful U.S. Senate re-election campaign, which earned the most votes of any candidate, at any level, in Florida’s history.

Before that, he managed Rubio’s presidential primary campaigns in Iowa and Florida.

A native of Arkansas, Reed has been a partner at Impact Management Group (IMG), a public affairs firm headquartered in Little Rock with clients that have included federal, state and local political campaigns; the Republican Governors Association; trade associations; and businesses. Earlier in his career, Reed served as Southeast Regional Political Director for the Republican National Committee (RNC) from 2007-2009, a multi-state portfolio that included Florida.

During this period, Reed led the get-out-the-vote program that re-elected Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss in a special election and played a key role in re-electing Republican governors in Mississippi and Louisiana. He has also served as Executive Director of the Republican Party of Arkansas and successfully managed grassroots operations for the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election in Arkansas.

Reed earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, where he has been inducted into the school’s Basketball Hall of Fame. He received his Masters of Public Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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Deb Tamargo battles Jonny Torres for future control of Hillsborough County Republican Party

November 8 was a pretty great night for Florida Republicans.

For the first time since 2004, the Sunshine State went red in the presidential race; Marco Rubio easily won re-election in his race for the U.S. Senate. And despite the redistricting of every state Senate seat, the GOP lost no seats in the Legislature’s upper chamber.

One not so bright place for the GOP was in Hillsborough County, where Hillary Clinton won decisively against Donald Trump, putting a dent into the county’s reputation as a reliable bellwether for the presidential race.

Now Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee Chair Deb Tamargo is being challenged in her bid for another two-year term by her second vice chair, Jonny Torres. The two engaged in an hourlong debate Wednesday night at La Teresita Restaurant, sponsored by the Hispanic Republican Club of Hillsborough County.

It began amicably enough, with Tamargo confessing that while the party could have apparently fared better in the election, it’s never been in better shape when it comes to issues like transparency and accountability. Torres agreed with her that party members have a stronger voice than under previous party chairs. But that would be the last time the two agreed on virtually anything the rest of the evening.

“The reason I’m running is there are candidates who were unsuccessful and elected officials who really felt that they were on their own,” Torres said flatly. “They weren’t getting the kind of support financially or with volunteer efforts.”

“I have to disagree with Jonny that we did not provide candidate support because we provided more candidate support than in previous years,” Tamargo replied. And she challenged Torres to name names of unhappy Republican candidates.

Torres responded that he has been endorsed in the race by Hillsborough Republican state House members Ross Spano, Dan Raulerson and Jamie Grant and said there were more“Out of respect to Chairwoman Tamargo, not everyone is willing to step forward,” he said. “What I keep hearing from the campaigns and the consultants time and time again is that they saw little to no members from the REC supporting their efforts.”

Tamargo strongly disagreed, saying that she knew that virtually everyone in the room had worked on the campaigns of at least one of the several Republicans who were on the ballot last month. She boasted of having the ability to fund first-time candidates for the first time, as well as providing slate cards, messaging and campaign “walkers” who went door to door to advocate for Republicans.

There are approximately 39,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Hillsborough County today. Some of that is attributable to the growing Latino population in the county, a demographic that both candidates agreed needs more attention from the Republican Party. But that led to another dispute about how much of that outreach has already occurred.

Tamargo said that the Hillsborough County REC for the first time had purchased airtime on urban radio and Spanish-language radio, and made those spots available for all candidates. “Some made themselves available, some did not,” she added.

Torres, who worked on Hispanic outreach in the Tampa Bay area for the Republican National Committee in 2015, said the most important thing was for the party to simply show up at events designed around the Hispanic community.

Approximately 50 people gathered to watch the debate, with the crowd occasionally making remarks indicating their support for a specific candidate.

During the Q&A session, the two candidates were asked how much time they would have available to chair the committee each week (the position is a voluntary one).

“I dedicated more than 40 hours a week to the mission,” said Tamargo. “I’m a workaholic. I can’t balance very well.”

With a full-top job and a family, Torres said he couldn’t specify exactly how much time he’d have available. He said he looked up to other GOP chairs like Blaise Ingoglia (the chair of the Republican Party of Florida), Joe Gruters or Nick DiCeglie, but then attempted to put the focus back on Tamargo. “No one can take away the hours, but what do we have to show for it? My philosophy is that we work smarter, not harder.”

The two also voter registration numbers, with Torres saying that Tamargo waited too to begin an all-out effort this year. Tamargo said she actively began those efforts a year-and-a-half ago. Torres says he would hire a political director to concentrate on those efforts year round.

Members of the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee will decide between Tamargo and Torres on December 20.

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Mitch Perry Report for 12.14.16 – Fun with Guccifer 2.0

Over the summer, a hacker who went by the nom de guerre of Guccifer 2.0 began distributing internal documents from the Democratic National Committee to a variety of reporters and bloggers here in Florida.

I was one of those recipients.

I bring that up this morning because of the story in Wednesday’s NY Times which revisits the issue, and highlights the document dumps in the CD 26 Democratic primary between Annette Taddeo and Joe Garcia.

And it reviews the correspondence between Guccifer 2.0 and a blogger who created the website HelloFLA!,, who the Times reports was run by a former Florida legislative aide turned Republican lobbyist.

I know we published one, maybe two stories from the information that Guccifer 2.0 provided. I then remember he sent me a link to some “new” material in mid-September that didn’t seem that all that new, and that I didn’t use. And some of it was about congressional races in places like Arizona and Texas. When I informed him of that, he then sent me this link to a post written on the HelloFla! site. I never responded, and that was pretty much the end of our correspondence.

There’s no question that some of this opposition research material was used by Republicans in some congressional races, despite Nancy Pelosi’s pleadings to Paul Ryan that Republicans not exploit that.

With all the discussing about how the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta hurt Hillary Clinton, the fact is most of those emails were more on the gossipy and embarrassing side. There were hardly any smoking guns in the thousands of emails that were produced, which in October were released virtually everyday. But these DNC internal documents documented in today’s Times story, yeah, that could have definitely hurt some Dems in some congressional races around the nation.

In other news…

FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold had some interesting remarks to make about the extremely controversial Tampa Bay Express project at a Senate Transportation committee meeting yesterday.

Marco Rubio serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, the committee of U.S. Senators who will vote on confirming Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state.

The National Urban League is taking Equality Florida to court over what they claim is infringement of their logo.

The ACLU of Florida and other groups and individuals have gone to federal court to remove another provision of that controversial abortion bill passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee Chair Nick DiCeglie was re-elected on Monday night, and now is hoping to lead the entire state of Republican DEC chairs next month in Orlando.

Newly elected Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren will kick off a listening tour starting this Friday.

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Marco Rubio says he has “serious concerns” about Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State

Marco Rubio had already weighed in negatively about Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson being floated as Donald Trump‘s possible choice for Secretary of State, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that now that it’s official, Rubio is still expressing his doubts.

“While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination,” Rubio said in a statement released Tuesday morning.

Other than John McCain, no other Republican has been so outspoken as Rubio in questioning the validity of the Tillerson nomination. Both men have been critical regarding Tillerson’s ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Tillerson negotiated an energy partnership with Putin in 2011 that the Russian president said would be worth as much as $500 billion. The next year, the Exxon Mobile CEO received the Russian Order of Friendship from the Kremlin, one of the highest honors that Russia bestows on foreigners.

The energy deal was put on hold when the U.S. levied sanctions against Russia for annexing Crimea. Reuters reported earlier this year that Exxon vowed to resume the agreement once sanctions are rolled back, a process Tillerson would be heavily involved in as secretary of State.

“The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America’s interests, and will be a forceful advocate for America’s foreign policy goals to the president, within the administration, and on the world stage,” continued Rubio in his statement. “I look forward to learning more about his record and his views.‎ I will do my part to ensure he receives a full and fair but also thorough hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”

Rubio has also been out front in taking seriously the questions of Russia’s involvement in the just concluded presidential election.  Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that the CIA‘s private conclusion that Russia’s activities were intended to tip the scales to help Trump. Senators from both sides the aisle says there will be a congressional investigation into that matter, but Rubio has been saying for months that he has concerns about possible Russian involvement.

While campaigning for re-election to the U.S. Senate in October, Rubio said“We don’t want to be in a country where foreign governments are able to blackmail our officials or interfere with our politics.”

Not too many other Republicans were saying that two months ago, when the WikiLeaks dumps of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta were hurting the Democratic presidential nominee.

“Do we really want to live in a country where foreign intelligence agents can blackmail our public officials if they threaten that if we don’t do what they want, they’re going to release your daughter’s emails, or your son’s emails, or your wife’s emails?” Rubio said. “Today it’s [Democrats]. Tomorrow it could be us. Or everyone for that matter.”

“This is what Vladimir Putin does to the former Soviet republics: he blackmails leaders and interferes with their elections,” Rubio added. “This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. This is an American issue.”

Undoubtedly, there should be plenty of tough questions coming from the Florida senator when Tillerson comes before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next month.

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Women slam Donald Trump in Tampa as part of a national day of protest

Approximately thirty people gathered in Tampa’s Lykes Gaslight Park on Monday to participate in a protest by women and their “allies in solidarity” against what they call Donald Trump’s hate.

The event was one of at least two dozen being held around the nation. In New York, protesters were gathering at Columbus Circle at 2 p.m., where they were then scheduled later in the day to march to Trump Tower to speak out against the president-elect.

“Part of the objective was to do this before the 19th to try to get the attention of the electoral college voters, however far fetched that might be,” said Suzanne Young, the organizer of the Tampa event.

December 19 is when the 538 members of the Electoral College will cast their ballots for president. Those electors are picked by their political parties, and in the states where Trump took the popular vote like in Florida, the Republican party’s slate of electorate will get to vote.

But a group of rogue electors known as the Hamilton Electors have been engaged in a last-ditch effort to stop Trump from becoming president. To do they must convince at least 37 of the 306 Republican electors currently pledged to Trump to instead support a moderate Republican alternative. Democratic electors have taken the lead in this long-shot effort, which if successful at denying any candidate 270 electoral votes could ultimately throw the presidential election into the hands of the House of Representatives.

“I have a fear for their own safety, because they can’t vote their conscious,” said one anonymous demonstrator about the electors at the Tampa rally. She told this reporter she feared retribution from her boss if she said her name while attending the event.

Others at the rally spoke in dark terms of what a Trump presidency could mean for the nation.

“I’ve lost a lot of elections, but I always had the security of knowing that the U.S. was going to be in pretty good hands. This time I feel that the entire world is at stake,” said Laura Manson from Dade City.”I’m an older women. I have studied some history. And I see some similarities, quite frankly, to Hitler, and I always said to myself, that couldn’t happen. Now I think it could happen. And if history has taught me anything, it’s that there’s a time to stand up.”

Nearly all the protestors in Lykes Gaslight Park were women, some of whom said they feared that under a Trump administration they could lose fundamental rights, such as the right to have an abortion. Trump has said that he supports pro-life justices to sit on the Supreme Court.

“We’ve got to stand up or we’re going to lose,” Geanne Marks from St. Petersburg said with concern. “All that we’ve fought for is going to go down the tubes. We have got to stand up. He’s in. We can’t do anything about that. But we can sure let our voice be heard, that we’re not going to put up with the kind of things that he’s shown while he was campaigning.”

Marks said she has only become more alarmed in the five weeks since the election by the choice of Trump’s Cabinet selections. “I mean you choose somebody for EPA who doesn’t believe in global warming?” she asked incredulously about the choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead that agency“You chose a woman for education who doesn’t believe in public education?” she added, referring to Betsy DeVos, Trump’s selection to head the Dept. of Education.

Over the weekend Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio slammed Trump for considering ExonMobil Corporation head Rex Tillerson as be his choice for secretary of state. The 64-year-old Tillerson, who took home $27 million last year, also has close ties with Russia, which has led to the objections by Rubio, John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

Tampa resident Erin Feichtinger said after reading Rubio’s tweet about Tillerson, she called his office on Monday to tell him she appreciated the comment. “We should identify these issues that I don’t think should be partisan, that affect all of Americans, and so I think it’s important that I call him,” she said. “I’m going to continue to call the office and hold him to that and let him know that his constituents do see that and do support that.”

Protests against Trump began the night after the election and continued for over a week in the Tampa Bay area and around the nation.  There haven’t been as many recently, but several people who attended Monday’s rally say they’ll be active the entire time that Trump is in office.

Susan from St. Petersburg (she did not feel comfortable giving us her full name) said uncertain whether the Democrats are up to being the opposition party in full in challenging Trump, but she says she won’t quit.

“I believe that radical change and incremental change can co-exist,” she said. “I believe in both kinds of change and it doesn’t hurt me to participate in incremental change while I advocate for radical change.”

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Mitch Perry Report for 12.9.16 – Will Bud Selig’s entry into the HOF ease the way steroid users?

Happy Friday, y’all. Hey, can we talk baseball this December morning? Okay, how ’bout hypocrisy?

Bud Selig, the commissioner who presided over the game’s golden age of steroid use, was named to the sacred Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this week by what is called the “veterans committee.”

That’s not to be confused with the Baseball Writers Association of America, who will most likely once again diss Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens when they vote next month on who should make the hall.

There were a lot of other elements of the Selig era, but the press certainly was fascinated by the explosion of people using performing enhancing drugs (PED’s) during the late 1990’s and early aughts, and none were better on (or off them) than Bonds and Clemens.

Of course, it should be noted, steroid use was completely legal in the game at the time. A weak policy was put in place in 2003, but it was strengthen in the fall of 2005 after Congress threatened to intervene. Leading the game at that time was Selig, who, like most of the baseball establishment (including us fans) pretty much ignored the controversy until it centered around a guy that nobody liked named Barry Bonds.

Bonds owns both the all-time home run record for one season, hitting 73 in 2001, as well as the most in the history of the game, when he eclipsed Hank Aaron in 2007.

Bonds was a universally loathed man, but he was beloved in San Francisco. The same for Clemens in the towns that he played in. Alex Rodriguez? Well, when people were throwing fake needles at Bonds during his run-up to breaking the all time home run record in ’07, A-Rod was hitting 54 homers in the Bronx, and NYC sports writers were saying that he would ultimately surpass Bonds. Then A-Rod got busted again for steroid use himself a couple of years later, and ultimately became the whipping boy of the New York city dailies.

Of course, “Big Papi” David Ortiz also got busted for ‘roids a decade ago, but hey, he’s beloved by everyone, so nobody likes to bring that up. In fact Selig’s successor, Rob Manfred, says that drug test that Ortiz failed back then may have been faulty.

“I think that the feeling was, at the time that name was leaked, that it was important to make people understand that even if your name was on that list, that it was entirely possible that you were not a positive,” Manfred told the Boston Globe on October 3, Big Papi’s final day as a pro. “I do know that he’s never been a positive at any point under our program.”

Whatever. But come on, isn’t it time to end the punishment for these stars for doing better what so many others were doing at the time? At least some sportswriters are seeing the light. Veteran San Francisco Chronicle scribe Susan Slusser tweeted last week that it’s “senseless to keep steroid guys out when the enablers are in Hall of Fame. I now will hold my nose and vote for players I believe cheated.”

Will her colleagues in the baseball media follow suit?

In other news..

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered a letter to Donald Trump earlier this week from 17 big-city mayors, calling on the President-elect  to reconsider his vow to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the provision that protects young, so-called Dreamers who came to the country before the age of 16 from deportation and allows them to study and work in the U.S. Bob Buckhorn wasn’t on the letter, but said he would have signed if he were asked.

Marco Rubio and the Republican Senate isn’t about to give Merrick Garland an up or down vote regarding his nomination for the Supreme Court, but a coalition of progressive groups in Florida aren’t giving up the opportunity to think about it during the lame -duck session of Congress.

And the Tampa City Council District 7 election is over, but the hard feelings aren’t – at least with one fallen candidate.

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Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio applaud NIH funding bill passage; Moffitt money preserved

Florida’s Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson both applauded passage Wednesday by the U.S. Senate of a bill that heads off potential cuts in cancer research at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The Senate approved H.R. 34, entitled the “21st Century Cures Act,” by a 94-5 vote Wednesday. The House of Representatives approved it earlier.

“This bill makes a lot of improvements to our nation’s medical research programs, but the most important thing it provides is hope — hope for patients affected by thousands of diseases, hope for people battling mental illness, and hope for families scarred by the ravages of opioid addiction,” Rubio stated in a news release issued by his office. “This legislation combines some of the best ideas for advancing medical treatment and research, speeding up the development of lifesaving drugs, and reforming our mental health system. It also funds the fight against the heroin epidemic and overdoses sweeping through far too many communities in Florida and around the country.”

The bill provides the National Institutes of Health an additional $4.8 billion over the next ten years.

“This funding will help us retain some of the nation’s best and brightest medical researchers and allow them to continue working on several important projects such as cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s,” Nelson stated in a news release from his office.

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Marco Rubio endorses Blaise Ingoglia for Florida GOP chair

Add Sen. Marco Rubio to the growing list of Republicans backing Blaise Ingoglia for Florida GOP chair.

Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican state representative, announced Tuesday that Rubio has thrown his support behind his re-election bid. In an email to Republican Party of Florida executive committee members, Ingoglia said Rubio has “been a great friend to the RPOF” and thanked him for his leadership.

“We look forward to seeing him shine in the U.S. Senate with Republicans now in control of all three branches of the federal government,” he said in his email.

Ingoglia was elected chairman in 2015, after Republican activists rejected Gov. Rick Scott’s hand-picked chairman. He had served as the party vice chairman, and was backed by grassroots leaders throughout the state.

“The Republican Party’s performance in Florida under Blaise’s leadership speaks for itself. We won tough races across the board in the nation’s biggest swing state, and Blaise’s leadership in the GOP’s get-out-the-vote ground operation this past year was decisive,” said Rubio in a statement. “He has worked tirelessly the past two years traveling the state, meeting with activists, and growing our party. Blaise has my full support for reelection as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.”

Ingoglia will face Christian Ziegler, a Sarasota Republican committeeman, in the race to serve as the RPOF chair. Ziegler, 33, announced his candidacy in November.

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