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Touting support for TPP, Bob Buckhorn to attend White House State Dinner tonight with Singapore’s Prime Minister

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, taking a summer respite from his daily duties in the Bay area, will be attending Tuesday night’s White House State Dinner in honor of Singapore’s Prime Minister & Mrs. Lee Hsien Loong. 

“Joining the President and First Lady in welcoming Prime Minister & Mrs. Lee Hsien Loong is both an honor and a privilege,” said Buckhorn, who will be joined by his wife, Dr. Cathy Lynch Buckhorn, for the festivities.

“Singapore remains one of our closest allies in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Buckhorn said. “I look forward to working with the government of Singapore and the Obama administration to increase global trade and create American jobs as the recent widening of the Panama Canal opens up significant opportunities to increase trade with the Asian market.”

While the Trans-Pacific Partnership has roiled parts of the Democratic Party, Buckhorn remains an unflagging supporter of the controversial trade deal in his role as chair of the TTP task force with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The deal is opposed by both major party political candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Clinton only came around in opposition after her chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, made his opposition to the TPP one of the principal parts of his candidacy.

Singapore is one of the 12 signatories to the agreement, which has yet to be approved by Congress. Conventional wisdom has it that the House and Senate will deal with it during a lame-duck session later this year.

The Tampa City Council — all Democrats — also passed a resolution earlier this year urging Congress to reject the deal.

President Obama stressed earlier on Tuesday that he still he plans to move ahead with the deal while he’s in office despite bipartisan opposition on trade.

Right now I’m president, and I’m for it,” Obama said at a midday news conference with the Singaporean Prime Minister. “And I think I’ve got the better argument. I’ve made this argument before. I’ll make it again. We are part of a global economy. We’re not reversing that.”

It’s been a heady couple of weeks for Tampa’s Mayor.

Buckhorn spent last week in Philadelphia taking in the Democratic National Convention, which included attending a lunch of Clinton alumni during the middle of the week. He also gave a strong speech to the Florida Democratic Delegation at a breakfast, reviving talks that he good be gubernatorial timber.

Kathy Castor says DNC message of optimism is in tune with where America is at

Nearly three-quarters of voters believe the nation has gone off on the wrong track, the highest mark of pessimism in three years. That’s according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released two weeks ago that things gone off-course, with 73 percent saying that things gone off-course, and only 18 percent saying the country is headed in the right direction.

Yet at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week, the message was that, in contrast to the dark vision expressed in Cleveland at the RNC a week earlier,  that things are pretty darn good in America.

“While this nation has been tested by war and recession and all manner of challenge,” President Obama declared in his primetime speech last Wednesday night, “I stand before you again tonight, after almost two terms as your President, to tell you I am even more optimistic about the future of America. How could I not be, after all we’ve achieved together?”

Hillsborough County area Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor says her party’s message is in synch with the mood of the country.

“We have a lot going for us,” Castor said after attending a press conference regarding the restoration of voting rights for ex-felons in Florida.”If you look at how far we’ve come since the Great Recession: unemployment is low, inflation is low, gas prices are low, the housing market has recovered. But that doesn’t mean that everything is going fabulously, yes we have work to do,” she says.

The Tampa Representative says the key is to focus on higher wages for workers in Florida. “The Democrats have a plan to do that, and (Donald) Trump has no plan at all. Everyone has the right to be optimistic in the United States of America. This is the greatest country on Earth. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges that we’ve got to work on and right here in Florida, that means higher wages, support for public education and then fundamentally we’ve got to keep our neighbors safe here at home and abroad.”

Although the public is down on the immediate future, President Obama’s approval ratings are above 50 percent, a key figure to watch going into this fall’s general election.

 

Mitch Perry Report for 7.28.16 — Hillary’s turn

President Barack Obama certainly set the bar high for Hillary Clinton‘s acceptance speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention, but most fair-minded people will know that going in. Even his harshest critics acknowledge that Barack Obama is one of the finest orators our nation has ever had in the White House, and the grading curve should be different from everyone else.

But by this point, it should be obvious about what we’re going to hear tonight — a healthy dose of optimism about this country, and criticism of Donald Trump‘s much darker, and OK, dystopian vision.

I wrote about those themes emerging in Clinton’s speech in Tampa last Friday afternoon.

She also criticized his Cleveland RNC speech where he said that he alone could fix so many of the ills that the nation is undergoing.

“I never heard of an American leader, or at least someone who wants to be an American leader, claiming that’s all we need. That’s not a democracy my friends, as I call recall, we had a revolution to make sure we didn’t have someone who said I can fix it alone!”

I saw on Twitter last night how some conservatives and Republicans feel like they’re message is being hijacked by the Democrats. There’s a reason for that. Out of power, the opposition party has to point out that there are problems in this country, and only they could solve that.

Bernie Sanders said the same thing in his own way.

Mrs. Clinton is the establishment, no doubt. By wanting to maintain another four years of Democratic rule after the past eight years, yes, she is portraying an America “that is already great,” another line we’ve repeatedly heard this week.

There were so many other interesting things that happened in the past 24 hours. The chants of “no more war!” being yelled at Leon Pancetta was interesting.

Of all the speeches from last night, I thought Michael Bloomberg’s was the most interesting.

Robbie Mook wants a few good Floridians to house Hillary Clinton staffers for the campaign.

Although it was purely symbolic, a bid to offer an alternative to Tim Kaine in the vice-presidential roll call last night died by indifference by the Democratic National Committee.

This DNC has been all about humanizing Hillary Clinton. A former staffer of hers, USFSP political science professor Judithanne McLauchlan, says the image portrayed by conservative talk show hosts isn’t the woman she knows.

Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, Martin O’Malley and Bill deBlasio all got their turns on the big stage at the DNC on Wednesday night.

Some of the state’s most prominent Democratic mayors took their turns before their fellow Democrats yesterday.

Bob Buckhorn fired up the crowd in Philadelphia.

Philip Levine touted the plan to bring a streetcar to Miami Beach in his speech in Philly.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum spoke before the entire DNC yesterday, but spent some time a the Marriott Hotel in the morning.

Senate Majority PAC airs ad highlighting President Obama’s endorsement of Patrick Murphy

After several weeks of GOP flavored super PACS bashing Patrick Murphy have dominated local cable stations in Florida, a super PAC who supports the Jupiter Democrat in his race for Senate has a new ad on the air.

The ad comes courtesy of the Senate Majority PAC, which on Tuesday released a new ad today released that highlights President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s endorsement of Murphy, a two-term Congressman from Florida’s Treasure Coast who is competing for the Senate nomination against Congressman Alan Grayson. The ad notes that Murphy has a fought to strengthen Social Security and Medicare, protect a woman’s right to choose, and against Tea Party obstructionism in Washington.

Critics note that in fact Murphy said on several occasions after being elected to Congress in 2012 that “we’re going to have to look at some structural changes to some programs like Social Security and Medicare.” He has refrained from such comments as a Democratic candidate for Senate.

“Marco Rubio and his allies are not telling the truth about Patrick Murphy and we aren’t going to let their attacks go unanswered,” said Shripal Shah, spokesman for Senate Majority PAC.  “As President Obama and Vice President Biden noted in their endorsement, Patrick Murphy will stand up for Florida’s middle-class; he has fought to protect Social Security and Medicare and a woman’s right to choose, and will stand up against Tea Party obstructionism in Washington. He’s clearly the best choice for Florida.”

Obama and Biden’s endorsement of Murphy earlier this year demonstrated on how much the Democratic Party establishment backs Murphy, the 33-year-old Representative who is centrist in his political leanings and more temperate in tone than the combative Grayson.

Nevertheless, though there hasn’t been any recent polling done, the two  Democrats are considered to be evenly matched up some six weeks before state Democrats will choose their standard bearer for the November election.

Meanwhile, the Marco Rubio campaign is weighing in. The GOP incumbent is the likely candidate who will face either Grayson or Murphy this November.

“It’s no surprise that Harry Reid’s Super PAC would ride to the rescue for their preferred candidate after he was caught lying about his resume and trying to delay needed aid to Floridians for his own publicity, said Rubio campaign spokesman Michael Ahrens.

You can watch the ad here:

Eric Lynn goes up with first TV ad in HD 68 race

Pinellas County House District 68 Democrat Eric Lynn will begin airing a local 30-second television ad that will run through the primary election on August 30.

The ad begins with Lynn taking a stroll with his wife, kids and dog, and then places him in front of the Vinoy Hotel. A photo with President Barack Obama also makes an appearance. Lynn began working for then Senator Obama in 2006, and then went to work in his Defense Dept. after Obama became president in January of 2009. Lynn stepped down from the DOD in 2015.

Lynn is in a fiercely contested primary contest vs. St. Petersburg attorney Ben Diamond. The winner will face Republican J.B. Bensmihen in November.

Lynn certainly has the funds to air an ad all the way through early voting and until Election Day. New fundraising totals show that he has raised over $75,000 in his campaign account, and maintains more than $300,000 in his political committee, the Pinellas County Voters Fund.

Diamond has raised more than $159,000.

Here’s the ad:

Mitch Perry Report for 7.13.16 – Conservatism is still running strong, Jeb Bush insists

Jeb Bush says whatever you want to call Donald Trump, don’t call him a conservative.

“Conservatism is temporarily dead,” the former Florida Governor told Nicole Wallace on an MSNBC special that aired Monday night. “I mean, if you look at it, we have two candidates. Donald Trump is barely a Republican. He’s certainly not a conservative.”

Bush makes the point, however, that while that might not matter much in the presidential sweepstakes, conservatism is still powerful across the country.

“I mean, the– the conservative cause isn’t just about the, you know, a presidential race. It’s about core beliefs that, if implemented properly will lead people to a better life. And so I think outside of the hot presidential campaign, this message still resonates and it’s still important. It certainly resonates around the country.”

As has been well documented, Republicans have won a ton of elections since President Obama won office in 2008, with Democrats in control of the House and Senate. In the states, Republicans have won 900 legislative seats since ’08, and there more governors with an ‘R’ next to their name than a “D.”

Let’s look at Florida for example, where Republicans have dominated in the Legislature for two decades now (I had to laugh at loud when Mr. Conventional Wisdom, Mark Halperin, in trying to explain why Donald Trump is now leading  Hillary Clinton in a new poll out this morning, said that Florida “has been trending red recently.” Say What??)

Bush says he now understands where the GOP primary electorate is at: they’re pissed off, essentially.

“I think the difference is people don’t believe anything anybody says anymore…in politics. I don’t know if they even heard what I said. That’s the point. They– they– they didn’t– they wanted their voice heard. They still do. They’re angry for legitimate reasons. They latched onto the big horse. All of which is logical to me in retrospect. In the midst of it, it wasn’t very logical. I mean,” he said.

Nearly five months after dropping out after finishing a disappointing fourth in South Carolina, Bush now says he’s not sure he could have done anything to change the outcome. “There is some weird solace in that I guess that I don’t have to think about it that much. … Looking back on it, I’m not sure what I could’ve done. Having a conservative record, offering conservative solutions, hopefully giving people a sense that I could’ve done the job wasn’t– wasn’t enough. And it may not have ever been enough– given the circumstances.”

Bush says he can’t vote for Trump, nor Hillary Clinton. What about the Libertarian ticket of former GOP governors Gary Johnson and William Weld? “Well, I don’t know, ” he said. “They don’t get a lot of airtime  yet.”

That ticket is getting in the high single-digits in some polls, though Johnson won’t be invited into the presidential debates until he hits 15% in the polls, which seems doubtful, but who knows?

In other news…

Elected officials, religious figures and law enforcement officers attended a press conference at City Hall in Tampa yesterday to discuss the tensions that exist between the police and the black community. No fewer than three of the public speakers all spoke about getting pulled over by local law enforcement recently.

Manatee County lawyer and activist C.J. Czaia is among the candidates vying to win the House District 70 seat being vacated this fall by Darryl Rouson.

And Brian Willis won an important endorsement in his bid to win the Hillsborough County Commission District 6 seat.

Mitch Perry Report for 7.11.16 — Donald Trump gets closer to naming his VP choice

We’re just a week out from the Republican National Convention, which means we’re just days away from learning who will be Donald Trump‘s vice presidential choice.

Of all the issues that make Americans fear a Trump presidency, the fact that he would have access to the nuclear codes is probably the most dominant concern, which is why it makes some sense if he were to nominate someone from the military.

Enter retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. The 57-year-old Flynn is a 33-year Army veteran who served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, but his tenure was reportedly cut short over clashes with top Obama administration officials. He’s been serving as an informal adviser to Trump during this campaign season.

Flynn went on ABC’s This Week with Martha Raddatz on Sunday, where he may have alienated some social conservatives with his stances on abortion and same-sex marriage.

”What people do in their private lives, these are not big issues that our country is dealing with that will cause our country to collapse,” Flynn told Raddatz. “I’m more concerned that our country could collapse because we are not dealing with education issues, immigration issues.”

Flynn says he grew up in a family that supported the Democratic Party, but he doesn’t recognize that party now.

On abortion, he said, “I think it’s a — I think for women — and these are difficult issues, but I think women have to be able to choose what they — you know, sort of the right of choice, but I think that that’s a difficult legal decision that — and I think that women are so important in that decision-making process.”

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are reportedly also thick in the mix for Trump. Either way, we should know who his No. 2 is within the next few days.

In other news …

There was no time off for this reporter this week. Jennifer Granholm headlined the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee’s annual fundraising event on Saturday night in Clearwater.

Ed Narain went after Augie Ribeiro at an SD 19 candidates forum in South St. Pete, also on Saturday.

Before the weekend, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Police Chief Eric Ward addressed the traumatic week of violence between police and the public in Dallas, Baton Rouge and suburban St. Paul.

In response to Dallas, conservative Florida Republicans Neil Combee and Dennis Baxley say they’ll introduce a “Blue Lives Matter” proposal in the Legislature if they make it back to office this November.

And outspoken conservative talk-show host Joe Walsh has somehow become an issue in the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s race, after his incendiary tweet about President Obama after the Dallas shootings.

Bob Henriquez wants Todd Jones to renounce Joe Walsh endorsement in Hillsborough Property appraiser race

Inexplicably, controversial conservative talk-show host and former Illinois GOP Congressman Joe Walsh has become an issue in the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s race.

Walsh lit up a firestorm on social media Thursday night when he tweeted after five Dallas police officers were killed during a Black Lives Matter protest that, “This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you” (the tweet has since been deleted).

Walsh also sent out subsequent tweets, once of which read, “You did this Obama. You did this liberals. You did this #BLM.”

Walsh was in Tampa a few months ago, where he endorsed Todd Jones, the Republican challenging Bob Henriquez in the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s race in November. Now Henriquez is calling on Jones to repudiate Walsh’s comments and reject that endorsement.

“I’ve always gone by the axiom my mother told me: tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are,” Henriquez said Friday afternoon. While acknowledging that candidates cannot be responsible for everything their supporters say or do, Henriquez says that a basic Google search should have been good enough for Jones to understand how controversial Walsh has been with some of his remarks since first getting elected in the big Tea Party explosion of 2010.

Walsh’s time in Congress was limited to a single term after his district was altered in 2012. He ended up losing that year to Democrat Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both her legs in a helicopter crash. During that campaign, he accused her of talking too much about her military service, and ultimately lost to her by 10 percentage points.

Walsh now hosts a talk-show in Chicago that is syndicated by Salem Media.

“I don’t know anybody who would want to be associated with him,” Henriquez says, adding that Jones has run as a “purple candidate” who says the job should be above politics.

Jones said he had no problem repudiating the tweet by Walsh, calling it “an undisciplined emotional reaction to a truly tragic incident.”

Unlike Henriquez, who served in the Florida Legislature for eight years, Jones is a political novice. A lifelong property appraiser, he’s running for office for the first time, and has said on the campaign trail that the position should be about who has the best qualifications for the job.

Saying that he’s “green to politics,” Jones said he’d have to “think about that a little bit” when asked if he would disavow the Walsh endorsement, which he said he was flattered to receive after the two met at an event at the University of Tampa. Jones said he had never met Walsh before that event, and hasn’t spoken to him since.

Jones initially spoke to this reporter while he was driving. A few minutes after our initial conversation, he blasted Henriquez for politicizing the events out of Dallas.

“Shame on Bob for exploiting such a tragedy for political gain,” he said. “I’m sorry, the congressman’s comments are obviously reprehensible and inappropriate and don’t help the situation, but Bob ’s motivation is pretty clear and I think it’s sad.”

Mitch Perry Report for 7.8.16 – America in crisis

The world awoke to the news this morning that five police officers in Dallas were killed at a police protest last night, with another six wounded. It’s the worst attack on law enforcement officers since 9/11. As I write this morning, CBS News reports that there were three and maybe four snipers involved. There’s been no other information reported on them at this point.

Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown said the officers were shot by two snipers in “elevated positions” near the protests and said the department believes the attackers coordinated the ambush. “How would you know to post up there?” he said, referring to the elevated position the snipers were in.

“We have yet to determine whether or not there was some complicity with the planning of this, but we will be pursuing that.”

In Warsaw, Poland, President Barack Obama called the shootings a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.”

The incident comes after the two shooting deaths of black men in suburban St. Paul and Baton Rouge earlier this week by the police, and has led many in the black community saying they are sick and tired of such incidents continuing to occur in this country.

The Washington Post reports this morning that the number of fatal shootings by officers has increased from 465 in the first six months of last year to 491 for the same period this year. They also report that this year has also seen more officers shot and killed in the line of duty and more officers prosecuted for questionable shootings.

One of the things that seems to be a consensus is that there needs to be more training of the police. The Post reports that while police chiefs around the nation have embraced such reforms, with 18,000 police departments in the country, many with their own training academies and unions, “making it impossible for them to move in lockstep.”

One of the legislative reforms that has come out of the police shootings in 2014 was the increase in body cameras for officers. However, the footage in Baton Rouge and suburban St. Paul from cellphones this week shows that the number of instances of deadly force haven’t been reduced at all.

In other news…

Today is the deadline for two media organizations in Florida who say they’re waiting on Patrick Murphy on whether or not they will hold a senate primary debate before voters go to the polls at the end of next month.

Murphy, incidentally, raised more than $2 million in the past 3 three months in his bid for the senate.

Marco Rubio joined nine other GOP senators early yesterday in calling for Sec. of State John Kerry to deny Hillary Clinton and her top aides access to national security information, following Jim Comey’s statement on Tuesday that she was “reckless” in handling classified material.

The Tampa Bay Times investigative editor, Chris Davis, has earned a promotion as the man now leading the investigative team at USA Today.

Avis Harrison becomes the sixth candidate (and first woman) to enter the Tampa City Council election to succeed Lisa Montelione.

Tim Canova has raised more than $2.25 million in his insurgent campaign against DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

House District 61 Democratic candidates in Tampa discuss their financial disclosure forms.

Mitch Perry Report for 7.5.16 – Bernie Sanders says the DNC’s platform still needs work

The Democratic Party platform’s most recent draft was published Friday, and is ready for your reading enjoyment, before it’s reviewed and ultimately approved this coming weekend in Orlando.

With Bernie Sanders‘ only leverage these days to exert as much of his influence as possible on this hallowed document, it is instructive to learn the Bernster thinks it’s a good start but needs more work, according to a piece he wrote on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s website Sunday.

On the issue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Democrats have a bit of a problem. That’s because their leader, Barack Obama, is 100 percent behind it, as are a number of Democrats.

Hillary Clinton used to be one of those Democrats, but no longer, undoubtedly pushed to oppose something she formerly called a “model” agreement by Sanders. Donald Trump rails against it daily as well, but the language in the platform says only there are “a diversity of views in the party.”

Sanders doesn’t understand that, since both he and Hillary oppose it. “If both Clinton and I agree that the TPP should not get to the floor of Congress this year, it’s hard to understand why an amendment saying so would not be overwhelmingly passed,” he writes, forgetting about Obama’s stance on the issue.

On the minimum wage, the DNC says they do support calls for raising it to $15, but support what Governors [Jerry] Brown in California and [Andrew] Cuomo in New York have proposed — doing it incrementally, year-by-year.

On Social Security, the platform calls for taxing “some of the income of people above $250,000.”

Regarding Wall Street, the platform says “we acknowledged that there is room within our party for a diversity of views on a broader financial transaction tax.”

On campaign finance, the platform calls for reversing not only 2010’s Citizens United decision, but also the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, which equated speech with money.

Bernie’s thoughts on the rest?

“We need to have very clear language that raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour, ensures that the promised pensions of millions of Americans will not be cut, establishes a tax on carbon, and creates a ban on fracking,” he writes. Currently, there is no ban on fracking, nor anything at all about a carbon tax.

Sanders says amendments on those items will be introduced in Orlando, so stay tuned.

In other news …

Well, the only thing we’ve reported on since last week was the fact that Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick has endorsed Betty Reed in Senate District 19 race, which may move some votes Ms. Reed’s way.

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