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Mitch Perry Report for 10.25.16 – DCCC ad linking Trump to Jolly goes away, but has the damage been done?

Attention political junkies: not every voter pays attention to politics until right before the election, which is why that ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee “dramatizing” David Jolly standing with Donald Trump was so egregious.

The ad — one of the most controversial of any produced this season in American politics — was immediately denounced by the Jolly campaign, who protested to local television stations to stop airing it. They did not. Nor did his Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, say anything negative when called to denounce it at the time.

But beware the power of the Tampa Bay Times editorial page. On Monday morning, the Times took shots at that ad, and called for Crist to demand his new political party take those dishonest ads off the air. They also criticized other negative ads being aired against Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober and state Senate District 18 Democratic candidate Bob Buesing.

After reading the editorial, Crist did as the Times demanded and called on the DCCC to drop the ad. In his own words, Crist said he was “moved” by the Times editorial, and expressed contrition that he hadn’t asked the DCCC to take it down earlier.

But the damage has been done, and Jolly wasn’t “moved” by Charlie’s about-face.

“I’ll be blunt: Charlie is a liar, always has been,” Jolly said. “Charlie’s opportunity to be moved was two weeks ago when he was confronted at Eckerd College about the ad and he claimed the First Amendment.”

The question that maybe we’ll never know is: how many voters on the fence in the 13th Congressional District were undecided about this congressional race, but are turned off by Trump and thus were persuaded not to scribble in the circle next to Jolly’s name on the ballot in Pinellas County?

The fact is, we can’t allow any candidate or third-party group in the future to allow for such “dramatizations.” They’re outright lies, and there’s already enough of that on an everyday basis in our politics, and in our campaign ads. Faking pictures is going to a new low, and while it may not be illegal, it shouldn’t be allowed.

In other news …

Donald Trump returned to Tampa last night. We hung out with some of his supporters before he came on the stage.

Hillary Clinton returns to Tampa for her fourth time this year on Wednesday.

Marco Rubio began his Monday in Sun City Center, where he added “liberal” to the other epithets he’s been throwing at Democratic Senate opponent Patrick Murphy.

The Hillsborough County Republican Party recently gave a $1,000 contribution to the lone Republican in the Tampa City Council District 7 race, Jim Davison. However, according to the City of Tampa’s charter regarding nonpartisan races, that’s a no-no.

HART has received $1 million to study a driverless bus in the county.

And what happens if Hillary Clinton wins in November, and Barack Obama passes the TPP in December? Chaos in the Democratic Party? Local guy Frank Sanchez agrees with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on supporting the TPP, for what that’s worth.

At Sun City Center, Marco Rubio derides Patrick Murphy as an “old-fashioned liberal”

Marco Rubio has been making the case that Patrick Murphy hasn’t accomplished much of anything during his four years in the U.S. House of Representatives. Now, with the polls tightening, he’s saying that the voting record of his Democratic rival in the U.S. Senate race is also too liberal.

“Why does someone lie about their background, about things that they have done? Apparently because they haven’t done anything,” Rubio told a couple of dozens supporters at a clubhouse in Sun City Center in South Hillsborough County early Monday morning. “Here’s what’s worse: When he’s not lying, he’s actually incredibly liberal.”

Rubio citied Murphy’s support of the Iran nuclear deal and his support for closing down Guantanamo Bay as evidence that the Jupiter Representative is too left for Florida voters.

“I’ve seen this ad the other day. It says he’s an independent voice,” Rubio said, adding, “Not on the issues that count.”

“On the issues that count, he doesn’t just mislead people, he’s a good old fashioned liberal, and Florida cannot afford to have somebody that liberal in the US Senate, particularly on issues of national security,” Rubio said.

“Patrick Murphy is one of the most independent members of Congress and it’s clear that Marco Rubio is desperate,” replied Murphy spokesperson Galia Slayen. “Despite millions of dollars in special interest money being spent against Patrick, we’re tied in the polls, Rubio’s hometown paper endorsed Patrick, and President Obama exposed Rubio for the coward that he is for continuing to support Donald Trump. Marco Rubio is devoid of political courage and lying about Patrick’s record. Floridians deserve better.”

Murphy’s voting record was certainly not considered that liberal to Florida progressives  when he first declared his candidacy for senate in early 2015. Murphy actually was a Republican before switching to becoming a Democrat, and his votes in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline and for a House Committee to investigate Benghazi were frequently invoked by Alan Grayson, Murphy’s top opponent in the Democratic primary.

Campaigning on the first day of early voting in Hillsborough County (and in 49 other counties in Florida), Rubio said that while much of the focus is on the presidential race, he emphasized the importance of his senate race, referring to the power that a senator has in approving or rejecting Supreme Court justices. He said if the next nominee happens to be in their mid 50’s, they’ll likely be on the court for the next 20-25 years, “which is the equivalent of three eight-year presidencies.”

“That means that for the next 25 years, the very balance of the Supreme Court is at stake,” he added.

With Donald Trump speaking in Tampa on Monday night, the Murphy campaign issued out a statement with the headline, “Will Today Be The Day?” asking mischievously if the two could end up on stage together. “We’re not doing presidential events,” Rubio said, not looking pleased to answer the question.

The Florida Senator continues to be hammered by members of the media for not disassociating himself from the GOP nominee, who he blasted during the presidential primary season, but is now backing because he says he’s preferable to a Hillary Clinton presidency.

On “This Week in South Florida” on Sunday, Miami WLPG-TV host Michael Putney blasted Rubio as a “smart, talented guy who earned our respect when he first sought elected office,” but “now it seems he’ll do or say anything to say in office, even swallow his pride and vote for a presidential candidate he clearly detests, all to advance his own political ambitions.”

Rubio said when it comes to Trump, he’s letting such criticism roll off of him.

“I’ve talked about that race repeatedly. People know how I feel about it,” he said regarding his continuing support for a Trump presidency. “I’m focused on the senate race. If people want to continue talking about other things, they certainly have the right, it’s  a free country. We’re blessed to have such freedoms in this country.”

“We’ve reached this point in America where people hate each other because of who they’re voting for,” Rubio later said, alluding to how divisive the Clinton-Trump race has become. “People hate each other because of what bumper sticker they have on their car. We’ve got to back away a little bit from that. We should feel passionately about our issues, but ultimately we all have to share the same country. There is no scenario where half of us do better and the other half does worse, that’s not a country that works. We can all be better off, and we should be able to disagree on political issues while still working on issues that we agree on.”

Rubio has spoken critically for years about Hillary Clinton, prompting FloridaPolitics to ask the Senator if he could work effectively with her if the two of them both won on November 8?

“When she agrees with me,” he immediately quipped. “I’ll look forward to working with her.”

He then went on to say that the majority of his major legislation he’s passed in his six years in the Senate have had major buy-in from Democrats, referring specifically to his “Girls Count Act” with New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen (that will direct current U.S. foreign aid to support the rights of women and girls in developing countries by working to establish birth registries in their countries) and proposed higher education legislation with Virginia’s Mark Warner .

“When we agree on something, I enjoy working with people who I disagree with on other issues,” he said.

Rubio was scheduled to then attend a forum on the opioid crisis with Congressman Vern Buchanan in Bradenton.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.24.16 — The Donald’s Contract with America

Donald Trump is in Tampa tonight, speaking at the facility formerly known as the 1-800-Gary (it’s actually called the MidFlorida Credit Union something or other). Among the many criticisms even his most fervent supports have expressed about his flagging candidacy is the lack of specific policies that could persuade undecided voters to support him in November.

To that end, on Saturday in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, The Donald unveiled what his team is calling his own “Contract with the American Voter” — a list of policy prescriptions he promises to deliver if elected.

Being the flawed candidate he is, however, he ended up stepping on that message by declaring he would sue each of the women who have come forward in the past two weeks to say he made unwanted advances.

His contract includes these provisions:

1 – a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on all members of Congress;

2- a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);

3- a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;

4- a five-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;

5- a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;

6- a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

This is in addition to his previous declarations that he will withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, renegotiate NAFTA, go forward with the Keystone XL Pipeline, and cancel billions in payments to the U.N. climate change programs to use that money to “fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.”

He’d also repeal every executive order by President Obama, cancel all federal funding to “sanctuary cities” and, yes, begin his program of “extreme vetting.”

It’s also becoming popular among some commentators to bemoan the fact that if Trump had just gotten out of his own way and been “sane” (to quote Peggy Noonan), he would have won this race easily.

Still 15 days to go …

In other news …

Call it pandering if you prefer, but Hillary Clinton made sure to talk about reforming the criminal justice system in an interview on a Tampa hip-hop radio station Friday afternoon.

It’s a busy week as the Hillsborough County PTC holds an emergency meeting which could decide Kyle Cockream’s fate.

The candidates for Florida’s State Senate 18 district met up on Friday at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club. Well, most of them, anyway.

Hillary Clinton praises Black Lives Matter movement in Tampa radio interview

Hillary Clinton called into Tampa hip-hop radio station 95.7 The Beat late Friday afternoon and gave praise to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I think they’ve played a really important role in our country,” she told Anjali “Queen B”.

“These young people who came together to raise questions and also offered solutions. It’s not just been one-sided. I’ve met with them, I’ve listened to them. They come up with a lot of important recommendations. I think they’ve played a very constructive role in helping us all to face up to the work that we need to do to confront systemic racism in America.”

She said she would take on the challenge of criminal justice reform. That would include signing an executive order on “banning the box” for federal employers and contractors. That’s been a popular item in the criminal justice reform movement, which calls for hiring agencies to remove the criminal record from its application form.

Clinton also said she would eliminate sentencing disparities for crack and powder cocaine, and end racial profiling to attempt to restore trust between the police and the black community, “because I think we are all safer when the police respect the people in communities and communities respect the police, and we’re going to work hard to make that happen.”

Clinton talked up the fact that early voting starts Monday in Hillsborough County and other parts of Florida.

President Obama called into the same radio program on Wednesday.

You can here the entire interview here.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.21.16 — Rick Scott in 2020?

Forget about Marco Rubio in 2020, what about Rick Scott?

Troy Kinsey from Bay News 9 reports that “some GOP operatives are floating him as a potential presidential contender in 2020, should Trump lose in November.”

Kinsey then quotes all of one lone such operative in his story. But it does make for a good headline.

Now, what about Marco Rubio? The Florida lawmaker made news this week when he declared in his debate against Patrick Murphy, “I’m going to serve in the Senate for the next six years, God willing.”

Even if Rubio does break that pledge, will the GOP primary voters in 2020 become warmer to his candidacy than they were this year? Well, a Bloomberg poll of 404 Republicans nationally taken last week doesn’t even put Rubio in the top five contenders for 2020.

Mike Pence, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and John Kasich finished in the top five, with five percent listed as “other,” including, presumably, some Rubio fans.

Meanwhile in South Florida yesterday, the President of the United States continues to enjoy his freewheelin’ campaign style in the waning months of his tenure, slamming Rubio mercilessly for his continued support of Trump.

“How can he call him a con artist and dangerous, and object to all the controversial things he’s said, but then say, ‘I’m still going to vote for him?’,” Obama said at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.

“C’mon, man,” he said.

“That is the sign of someone who will say anything, do anything, pretend to be anybody just to get elected. If you’re willing to be anybody just to be somebody, man, you don’t have the leadership that Florida needs in the United States Senate.”

Closer to home, a quick correction to Patrick Manteiga’s column in today’s La Gaceta. Patrick reports Lisa Montelione has “failed to receive any endorsement of her peers on Tampa City Council” in her House District 63 race versus Republican Shawn Harrison.

Au contraire. Mike Suarez and Harry Cohen did announce their endorsement earlier this week.

The Cubs thrashed the Dodgers last night, and are looking pretty up 3-2 going back to Chi-town tomorrow night. I may be the only man in the Tampa Bay area rooting for the Dodgers, which is really weird. I mean, I’m a Giants fan, for heaven’s sake.

And the Bucs travel to San Francisco, Santa Clara this weekend to play Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. Will any Bucs take a knee in solidarity with the now nationally famous activist?

In other news …

Victor Crist is calling for an emergency meeting next week of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission to deal with the negative fallout of recent press reports.

Speaking of which, newly released emails show PTC executive director Kyle Cockream communicated freely with officials of taxicab and limousine companies his agency is supposed to be regulating.

After getting his column on the more unseemly side of the Clintons spiked, Chris Ingram quit the Tampa Bay Times.

Republican Eric Seidel continues his campaign against Democratic incumbent Pat Frank for the clerk of the court.

Sarasota U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan hopes to get federal assistance in cleaning up Sarasota and Manatee County’s red tide problem.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.20.16 — #Badhombres

Donald Trump enjoyed mocking Hillary Clinton earlier this week for all the time she’s taken off the campaign trail recently, but with all three debates now history, it’s clear she knew exactly she was doing — working to be totally prepared for these debates.

I know folks like to lower the bar considerably when grading how well Trump performed in these encounters, but the fact is Clinton has been sharper and better prepared in all three, and they really could be the deciding factor in this election.

“It’s completely heartbreaking to see Clinton so outclass a Republican nominee across 3 debates,” tweeted the National Review’s Rich Lowry last night.

It’s not like there isn’t ample material to use against Mrs. Clinton, and one can’t help but wonder for a moment how another candidate — such as Florida’s Marco Rubio — would have performed.

I don’t want to sound like I’m parroting the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith, but it’s really true that a political athlete like Rubio would have been so much more formidable in this setting. Seeing him in Ybor City yesterday, I was reminded of just how quick-witted and sharp he is.

But forget all of that — Republican primary voters overwhelmingly rejected Rubio, just as they did John Kasich, who I believe would be the next POTUS if the GOP had nominated him. But the voters didn’t want Kasich, either.

In his presser at the J.C. Newman Cigar Company yesterday, Rubio again said he would not capitalize on the WikiLeaks release of emails of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. At this point it seems like Rubio feels he can’t completely distance himself from Trump, but as his lead over Patrick Murphy grows narrower, look for him to continue to move to the center before Nov. 8.

In other news …

Critics of Amendment One on the ballot next month seized on the discovery of an audio tape of an official with the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee boasting that the utility industry is trying to deceive voters into supporting restrictions on solar power by supporting the amendment.

Hillsborough County has approved a 10-year, $600 million plan for transportation, but a lot of people remain unhappy about it all.

President Obama has cut a new television ad where he advocates for the election of Charlie Crist next month in Pinellas’ CD 13 race.

The president also called into local hip-hop station 95.7 The Beat yesterday to urge Tampa Bay area citizens to vote.

Rubio was in Tampa Wednesday, where he learned to roll cigars and discuss his disdain for regulations that could seriously jeopardize cigar factories like the J.C. Newman Company.

And you can mark the Pat Kemp-Tim Schock Hillsborough District 6 race as yet another local matchup that won’t feature a single debate between the main candidates.

President calls into Tampa hip-hop station to urge Floridians to vote

Stressing the importance of Floridians voting in the presidential election, President Obama called into Tampa local hip-hop radio station 95.7 The Beat in Tampa on Wednesday afternoon.

“Your vote matters,” he told DJ Anjali “Queen B” in a nine-minute conversation. “And if we’re going to protect and build on the progress we made in the last eight years I need everybody in the Tampa Bay area to vote. So don’t wait.”

The president referred to the fact that early voting begins in many parts of the state next Monday, Oct. 24.

Hillary Clinton will also be seizing on the start of early voting by appearing in the Sunshine State next Tuesday and Wednesday, though the times and locations of her visits have yet to be announced.

Obama also gave out website and text addresses for people to learn how to vote by mail, which has been happening in Florida for the past two weeks.

Speaking about the election and the choice of Clinton or Donald Trump, the president said, “This should not be a tough election for people who care about opportunity, equality, justice, common decency, bringing the country together.”

The president emphasized how easy it is to vote, referring to how his eldest daughter Malia voted this year in the District of Columbia and was surprised it only took 10 minutes. “Young people I think sometimes think ‘aw, this is going to be some huge hassle.'”

Obama is scheduled to campaign for Clinton in Miami Gardens on Thursday, making up for a previous appearance canceled because of concerns of an approaching Hurricane Matthew. He was also scheduled to speak about the Affordable Care Act at the University of South Florida, which he will now do at Miami-Dade College on Thursday.

Marco Rubio decries FDA regulations over cigars while visiting Tampa factory

Marco Rubio‘s re-election campaign brought him to a 13o-year-old cigar factory in Tampa Wednesday, where he blasted proposed federal rules which could severely harm it and other cigar manufacturers in the U.S.

A recent FDA ruling initially intended to regulate smokeless tobacco products, but summarily expanded to include cigars, would compel manufacturers like the J.C. Newman Company to go through a rigorous and costly application before any new product could go on the market. Officials said the imposed verification process would radically slow the rate of new cigars going on shelves as well as the number of new cigars in general.

“This is one more added cost to production. It’s going to put these companies unfortunately out of business,” said Rubio, who received a tour of the factory before addressing the media. “When you tell any company you can no longer offer new products, without going through a very expensive process, any industry … I don’t care what you sell … you’re going to struggle to survive, especially facing unfair foreign competition.”

Eric Newman, president of the 130-year-old J.C. Newman Company located in Tampa’s V.M. Ybor section, calls the new proposal “draconian,” and said it would cost his company $2.5 million in compliance costs to fully implement.

Rubio and his U.S. Senate colleague from Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson, initially introduced legislation called the “Traditional Cigar Manufacturing & Small Business Jobs Preservation Act” in 2011, which would remove the FDA’s jurisdiction over the premium cigar industry by amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor filed similar legislation in the House. They’ve introduced similar bills in the 2013 and 2015 sessions, to no avail. Rubio said that he and Nelson would again push for that bill’s passage before the end of the year.

Rubio was joined by Tampa state House District 60 Republican Dana Young, who, like Rubio, is on the ballot next month, where she is running for the Senate District 18 seat.

“This is a classic example of how in a bipartisan way, at the state and federal level, we can work together and try to stop both regulations of small businesses like this one and needless red tape involved with lumping in one product that is part of our culture with others that cause harm to the public,” she said.

Adding insult to injury, both Newman and Rubio said, was President Obama’s announcement last Friday that it is eliminating a $100 limit on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that American travelers can bring back from the island. Travelers can now purchase unlimited quantities of Cuban cigars in any country where they are sold but they can only be for personal use and cannot be sold.

“We love the competition,” insisted Newman, but said it wouldn’t be a fair fight between his cigars and the ones imported from Cuba, since they won’t be required to do the compliance costs the FDA requires of American cigar manufacturers.

“At a time when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton talk about bringing back American manufacturing jobs … the American government wants to shut us down, ” Newman said. “We’re horrified by that.”

Rubio also fielded questions on his Senate campaign, where the polls have suddenly tightened with Democrat Patrick Murphy with less than three weeks to go before Election Day.

“You don’t win in Florida in a presidential year as a Republican by 10 points. Or even by five points,” he said. “It is becoming the race I knew it would, which is a close race.” He then spent several moments listing what he said were his achievements in the Senate in the past six years.

Rick Scott wants feds to declare ‘major disaster’ in Florida after Matthew

In St. Augustine Monday for an event promoting tourism in America’s oldest city, Gov. Rick Scott reiterated his call for the federal government to approve Florida’s entire request for a “major disaster declaration.”

The federal government has not approved funding, asserts the governor’s office, “for individual assistance or for permanent work to roads, parks, and government buildings in local communities.”

Scott, who has been pushing for such since Hurricane Matthew, is understandably nettled.

“Since Hurricane Matthew impacted our state, I have continued to travel along Florida’s east coast meeting with Floridians who were affected by this storm. Many families and businesses have lost everything. Homes were destroyed, businesses have shut down and are unable to pay their employees, roads are torn up, and many of our beaches have suffered severe erosion,” Scott said, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

“I am very disappointed that President Obama has not yet approved our entire request for a major disaster declaration. We are waiting on the president to approve funding to help families and businesses pay for things like temporary housing, home repairs, and living expenses,” Scott’s statement continues.

“Today I was in St. Johns County and, while many people are trying to rebuild, they need this key federal funding so they can start the process.

“At the state level,” Scott added, “we are helping our communities any way we can and I am going to continue to fight for every available resource from the federal government so our families and businesses can get back to normal. I am going to continue to call on the president to help our state because Floridians deserve nothing less. I hope President Obama approves our request today.”

While there has been no public statement either way on this from the White House, perhaps that declaration is coming.

Action News Jax reports FEMA officials are in Duval County on Monday, inspecting the damage with an eye toward (perhaps) further relief.

Meanwhile, FEMA was touring St. Johns County Friday, according to News4Jax.

Mitch Perry Report for 9.29.16 — Congress is free to go home. Again.

First of all, congratulations to the uber-hip readers at Creative Loafing who, in their Best of the Bay voting for Best Reporter in 2016, selected a columnist who retired two years ago.

Congratulations also to our U.S. Congress who, by voting for a budget bill last to avoid a government shutdown, now gets to skip town for another two months before returning for an inevitable lame-duck session.

Wait a minute, some of you might think — didn’t they just have a seven-week summer break? Hey, that ended more than three weeks ago, silly.

Actually, let’s look at the details: Part of the deal includes passing a $1.1 billion Zika funding bill, as well as $500 million to Louisiana and other states facing natural disasters.

One of the hangups with why Congress hadn’t previously passed a Zika bill was that the GOP wanted to strip money for Planned Parenthood to combat the mosquito-borne virus. But they lost that gambit, as PP does get funding in the new bill.

Not that all of the Democrats were gracious in victory.

“It is deeply disappointing that until now, Republicans have insisted that the most appropriate response to a virus that overwhelmingly affects pregnant women was to place a politically motivated ban on funding for reproductive healthcare providers,” said Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Indeed, there’s nothing like a deadline. Government funding is scheduled to run out tomorrow. And, of course, there are elections to campaign in. You know, elections for the 435 members of the House where 96 percent of them are expected to win re-election.

Conservatives, meanwhile, are pissed again, saying Republican members sold out — again. POLITICO reports Heritage Action’s Dan Holler is blasting the deal, saying “House Republicans accept being jammed and essentially sit on the sidelines” and Hill Republicans “negotiate behind closed doors with Democrats, essentially giving them what they want.”

In other news …

After several disasters and many attempts, Florida finally scored yesterday when President Obama declared the state after Hurricane Hermine to be a disaster area, which is good news locally for folks in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

Hillsborough County Commission District 1 Democratic candidate Jeff Zampitella is challenging Sandy Murman in her bid for re-election this fall.

House District 66 candidates Larry Ahern and Lorena Grizzle were the only direct combatants at Wednesday’s Suncoast Tiger Bay Club meeting.

Meanwhile, Clearwater state Rep. Chris Latvala is the latest Pinellas Republican to throw some shade at the St. Pete Democratic administration in the wake of “Sewergate.”

And Michelle Obama wasn’t only in Pennsylvania campaigning for Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, but she also cut her first TV ad for the Democratic nominee, pushing the whole “role model” thing in comparison to you-know-who.

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