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Democrats throughout Florida call on GOP opponents to denounce #TrumpTapes vulgar comments

A newly released videotape showing Donald Trump making crude comments about a married woman he tried to seduce is sending shock waves throughout Florida politics.

“I’ve said some foolish things,” the Republican presidential nominee said overnight Friday in a taped apology posted on Facebook. “But there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women.”

But Florida Democratic candidates statewide are not letting Trump off the hook so easily. Nearly all of them are calling for the Republican nominee — as well their opponents who support him — to either clarify their position or withdraw from the race.

U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy released a statement Saturday calling Trump’s comments “disgusting,” blasting his opponent, incumbent Republican Marco Rubio, for giving a tepid response.

“While prominent Republicans like Senators Mike Crapo and Kelly Ayotte have already withdrawn their endorsements,” Murphy writes. “Marco Rubio issued a tweet with empty rhetoric and continues to stand by his choice for President.”

“Donald Trump’s comments are sickening, inexcusable and dangerous,” Murphy said. “They contribute to a culture that devalues women and makes our society unsafe … Trump is an unhinged misogynist who has no place anywhere near our country’s highest office.”

Murphy points out Rubio claims he ran for re-election to serve as a check on the next president, even if that president was Trump.

“But how can he serve as a check on a Trump presidency if he won’t even hold Trump accountable as a candidate?” Murphy concluded. “If Senator Rubio cannot withdraw his endorsement after this latest sickening news, then he should withdraw from the race.”

Randy Perkins, who faces Republican Brian Mast in the race for Florida’s 18th Congressional District, says that his opponent has regularly ignored the regular flow of Trump’s “crude comments about women.”

In a statement, Perkins accuses Mast of continuing to support Trump, despite frequent comments the GOP nominee made about women, including calling them “fat pigs … dogs … and slobs” and talking about prenuptial agreements as, “There are three types of women, all gold diggers.”

“I am deeply disturbed and disgusted, not only as a husband and a father, but as a human being,” Perkins said. “Bragging about groping women is never acceptable, and this type of language can never be tolerated or condoned.

“This is why I’m calling on Brian Mast to officially revoke his endorsement of Trump’s candidacy for president,” he added. Many prominent Republicans, including Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, have had the courage to denounce Trump’s vile rhetoric toward women, but, unfortunately, Brian has yet to take their lead.”

Perkins concludes with a question: “Whose side is Brian on, the people of District 18 or Trump?”

David Singer, the Democratic candidate for Florida House District 60, calls it a simple issue of “right versus wrong.” He also demanded Jackie Toledo, his Republican opponent for the Hillsborough County-based seat, to immediately denounce Trump’s remarks.

“As a husband and the father of two young daughters,” Singer said in an email. “I am horrified at Donald Trump’s comments. What he described as his normal behavior with women is criminal sexual assault, plain and simple.

“Anyone who seeks public office should immediately condemn him and call for him to drop out of this race as he is unfit to serve. This is not an issue of left versus right. This is an issue of right versus wrong. This does not reflect the values of our community.

“I am joining Democrats, Independents and Republicans across the country who are calling on him to leave this race. I hope that Jackie Toledo would immediately disavow him as well and join with us in opposing his candidacy.

“At the very least, I would hope that she will finally state that she will not vote for him. If she won’t reject Donald Trump’s candidacy after this, she should tell us what it would take.”

Former Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl refers to the release of the video — now trending on Twitter as #TrumpTapes — as the “Moraitis Moment.”

Keechl, a Democrat running for House District 93, was referring to his Republican opponent, incumbent state Rep. George Moraitis, who took to the stage last month to introduce Trump in Broward County.

“He is the kind of President that I want,” Moraitis had said at the rally.

Keechl is demanding an apology.

“The country, and world, now have seen what many Republicans, Democrats and Independents have known for so long — Donald Trump is offensive and demeaning to women and his words on the video released yesterday only show how disgusting and hurtful he is,” Keechl said in a statement. “If my opponent stays silent — or worse — continues to endorse and support Donald Trump, then he not only condones Donald Trump’s words and action, but he too will owe Broward residents an apology.”

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Marco Rubio at 48%, Patrick Murphy at 44% in new Quinnipiac University poll

The race for the U.S. Senate is close, with just four percentage points separating Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Patrick Murphy.

A new Quinnipiac University poll found Rubio has a slight edge over Murphy, with 48 percent of voters backing the Miami Republican. The survey found 44 percent of respondents said they were supporting Murphy.

“Sen. Marco Rubio has led in the polls for re-election since he changed his mind and decided to seek a second term,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a statement. “But his margin over U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Democratic challenger, has never been large enough to make Sen. Rubio comfortable.”

Rubio’s lead over Murphy narrowed since Quinnipiac’s last U.S. Senate poll. That survey, released in early September, showed Rubio at 50 percent and Murphy at 43 percent.

The latest poll showed Rubio leads among independent voters, 52 percent to 41 percent. He also leads among male voters, 59 percent to 30 percent, and white voters. Among white voters with a college degree, Rubio leads Murphy 54 percent to 38 percent. He also leads the Treasure Coast Democrat among white voters without a college degree, 61 percent to 36 percent.

“It looks like the battle to control the U.S. Senate will go down to the campaign’s final days,” said Brown in a memo, noting races in Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania could be key to deciding which party will control the Senate.

According to a Real Clear Politics average of polls, Rubio has a lead of 5.2 points over Murphy. The website has ranked the state’s U.S. Senate race as a “toss-up.” While the Quinnipiac University poll didn’t include a breakdown of demographics, its results are similar to other polls released recently. According to the Miami Herald, a new poll from Associated Industries of Florida showed Rubio was leading Murphy, 48 percent to 39 percent among likely Hispanic voters.

The survey of 545 likely Florida voters was conducted from Sept. 27 to Oct. 2. It has a margin of error of 4.2 percent.

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Patrick Murphy raises $3.3M in third quarter

Rep. Patrick Murphy raised more than $3 million in the third quarter of 2016.

The Murphy campaign announced Monday it raised $3.3 million in the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30. Campaign finance records were not immediately available on the Federal Election Commission’s website.

“I am so humbled by the grassroots support our campaign has received. It is clear that Floridians are ready for a Senator who shows up and fights for them in the U.S. Senate,” said Murphy in a statement. “This election is critical for our state and families and I will not let them down. I look forward to continuing to share my message with Floridians and working hard for every vote until Election Day.”

Records show Murphy raised $1 million between July 1 and Aug. 10. At the time, the campaign reported it had $3.9 million cash on hand.

Murphy faces Sen. Marco Rubio in the Nov. 8 general election. Records show Rubio raised $3.2 million between July 1 and Aug. 10. He had more than $4.6 million cash on hand at the end of reporting period.

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Florida Chamber poll shows Marco Rubio at 46%, Patrick Murphy at 42%

Another day, another poll showing a close race between Rep. Patrick Murphy and Sen. Marco Rubio.

The Florida Chamber Political Institute released a new poll Monday that showed Rubio and Murphy were locked into a tight race. The survey found Rubio was at 46 percent, while Murphy was at 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 has a margin of error of 4 percent.

According to the Florida Chamber Political Institute, Rubio leads Murphy among Hispanics, 46 percent to 43 percent. He also leads Murphy among white voters, 53 percent to 35 percent. Murphy, meanwhile, holds a 68 percentage point lead over Rubio among African American voters, 79 percent to 11 percent.

With just a few weeks until Election Day, Murphy appears to remain unknown. The survey found 29 percent of respondents said they had never heard of Murphy, while 22 percent said they had a favorable view of Murphy. Twenty-four percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of Murphy.

Rubio is well known, and Floridians views seem evenly split. The survey found 43 percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of the Miami Democrat, while 44 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion.

Florida’s U.S. Senate race is one of the most closely watched races in the nation, and could determine control of the U.S. Senate.

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Bill Nelson: NASA reauthorization bill requires feet on Mars

NASA will be required to commit to putting people on Mars in the latest U.S. Senate NASA reauthorization bill, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday.

The Bill, S. 3346, was unanimously approved by the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday authorizing NASA to spend $19.6 billion budgeted for the agency and setting a few new requirements, including that NASA commit to a human settlement on Mars.

That’s NASA’s plan already, though it’ll take 20 years.

Nelson, the Orlando Democrat who sponsored the bill, declared Wednesday that provision and others aim to set consistent policy at the agency through future presidential administrations.

“Fifty-five years after President Kennedy challenged the nation to put a man on the moon, the Senate is challenging NASA to put humans on Mars,” Nelson stated in a news release issued by his office. “The priorities that we’ve laid out for NASA in this bill marks the beginning of a new era of American spaceflight.”

Not mentioned in the bill nor Nelson’s comments is neither Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton nor Republican candidate Donald Trump has said much about space policy, nor made any definite commitments for the agency’s “Journey To Mars” program, which now is driving much of NASA’s agenda.

The bill requires NASA to develop and submit a plan to Congress on a strategic framework and critical decision plan, based on current technologies, to achieve the exploration goals and objectives of a human mission to Mars.

The committee’s passage of the bill Wednesday may be significant but getting the bill into law remains a challenge. No NASA authorization bill has passed both chambers and gotten signed into law since 2010.

That earlier bill, written by Nelson and Texas Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, remains the agency’s blueprint for operations and planning, including authorization to build America’s biggest, most powerful rocket ever, the Space Launch System, and a space capsule called Orion, which would be used to take astronauts to Mars.

S. 3346 also requires continuation of the SLS and Orion programs, as well as the agency’s commitments to encourage the development of private space companies and programs, and to turn over much of the lower-Earth orbit business to them. That includes ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station, starting as early as next year.

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Patrick Murphy releases new TV spot aimed at Marco Rubio’s position on abortion

Patrick Murphy is taking a swing at Marco Rubio’s stance on abortion.

In a new advertisement, a 30-second spot called “Reckless,” the Murphy campaign tries to highlight Rubio’s position on abortions, saying the Miami Republican is “reckless on choice.” The new campaign spot comes on the heels of an endorsement from Planned Parenthood.

“Marco Rubio is reckless on a woman’s right to choose, radical in his attacks on women’s health funding, and irresponsible in his anti-woman rhetoric. Florida women deserve a senator who will stand up for their right to make their own health care decisions, but instead Marco Rubio opposes a woman’s right to chose even in cases of rape or incest,” said Murphy in a statement. “Florida families deserve a senator who will lead on funding for Zika research, but instead Marco Rubio attacked women’s health care funding. Marco Rubio has no right to make decisions for Florida women. Floridians deserve a fighter, and I will always stand with Florida women to protect their right to make their own health care decisions. I look forward to showing up and working hard as Florida’s next senator.”

Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday it was backing Murphy in the Florida’s U.S. Senate race. In a statement, Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said Murphy “has been a fighter for Florida women.”

A spokeswoman for the Rubio campaign said 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,” said Olivia Perez-Cubas, a spokeswoman for the Rubio campaign. “Murphy’s extreme positions on abortion put him out of touch with the vast majority of Floridians.”

Murphy will face Rubio in the November general election. The race is expected to be close, and new polling released Tuesday showed Rubio leads Murphy, 47 percent to 45 percent.

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Marco Rubio campaign hits Patrick Murphy over resume in new ad

Another day, another TV ad raising questions about Patrick Murphy’s credentials.

Marco Rubio released a new ad aimed at Murphy and allegations he embellished his resume. In June, CBS Miami ran a two-part report where it revealed he did not meet the minimum requirements to become a CPA in Florida and wasn’t a small business owner.

“In an ad called ‘Truth,’ Marco Rubio manages to lie three times in 30 seconds. These discredited lies are all Marco Rubio has to run on after he lied about showing up for Florida in the U.S. Senate and abandoned Floridians on the issues that matter,” Galia Slayen, a spokeswoman for Murphy’s campaign, said in a statement. “Marco Rubio should stop smearing Patrick and tell Floridians the truth about why he won’t commit to a full Senate term. Hint: so he can abandon Florida again to run for President in 2020.”

PolitiFact rated a similar ad by the National Republican Senatorial Committee “mostly false.”

The new 30-second spot — called “Truth” and released by the campaign Tuesday — features clips of the CBS Miami report as well as a report focused on his academic achievements.

“Patrick Murphy has trouble with the truth. … No wonder a non-partisan study ranked Murphy one of the least effective members of Congress,” a narrator says in the spot. “Patrick Murphy: Just too many lies.”

Rubio faces Murphy in the November general election. The race is one of the most-watched Senate races in the nation, and outside organizations are expected to pour millions of dollars into the race.

The Rubio campaign also released a Spanish-language ad Tuesday. The spot — a translated version of one he’s already airing — is airing in Miami, according to the Miami Herald.

 

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Poll: Marco Rubio leads Patrick Murphy, 50% to 43%

Sen. Marco Rubio has a seven-point lead in the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

The survey of likely Florida voters found Rubio leads Rep. Patrick Murphy, 50 percent to 43 percent. Six percent of respondents said they still didn’t know who they would vote for.

Quinnipiac University polled 601 likely Florida voters between Aug. 31 and Sept. 7. The survey has a margin of error of 4 percent.

Rubio leads 55 percent to 35 percent among men, but lags behind Murphy when it comes to female voters. Among female voters, Murphy leads with 51 percent support, while Rubio has 45 percent.

The Miami Republican also has a leg up among white males, with 63 percent saying they would vote for him. The survey found 27 percent of white male voters picked Murphy.

The race is more evenly divided among white females, with 49 percent picking Rubio compared to 48 percent picking Murphy. Among non-white voters, Murphy received 56 percent support, while 38 percent pick Rubio.

Rubio has a double-digit lead over Murphy when it comes to independent voters. The survey found 53 percent of independent voters said they would vote for Rubio, compared to 37 percent who picked Murphy.

The race is one of the most-watched in this election cycle, and could be key to control of the Senate. Outside groups are pouring millions of dollars into the state, and both candidates have already spent weeks attacking each other.

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Abortion rights group hits Marco Rubio over Zika

A top abortion rights organization is taking a swing at Sen. Marco Rubio.

NARAL Pro-Choice America released a new campaign ad Tuesday, hitting Rubio over his decision to support legislation that didn’t fund women’s health clinics in the wake of the Zika outbreak. The advertisement — part of a six-figure ad campaign — also takes a swing at Rubio for not allowing women infected with the disease to get an abortion.

“Sen. Rubio is putting the interests of extreme right-wing groups ahead of the women of Florida. Rubio’s actions are putting women and families in Florida, ground zero for this outbreak, at much greater risk,” said Sasha Bruce, senior vice president for campaigns and strategy at NARAL, in a statement. “Women deserve a full range of health care options, including abortion, not options limited by Sen. Rubio’s extreme and out-of-touch political beliefs. This is true always, but especially during a public health crisis. Sen. Rubio should stop playing politics and do the right thing for women and families of Florida.”

Rubio backed several Zika funding bills, including a House GOP-backed bill that, among other things, included provisions to defund Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico. Senate Democrats blocked that $1.1 billion funding bill in June.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill again Tuesday.

“The Zika virus is here; it’s dangerous to pregnant women, and it has no cure. But Marco Rubio voted against funding health clinics that provide critical care during this public health emergency,” an announcer says in the ad. “Marco Rubio continues to be against a woman’s right to choose an abortion even they’re infected with the Zika virus. Tell Marco Rubio to stop putting his agenda ahead of the health and safety of women and families.”

The ad will air on TV in Orlando and West Palm Beach, while digital ads will run across the state.

“Patrick Murphy is the only candidate to have voted against every measure to fund Zika – once again putting himself and his political aspirations before Floridians,” said Olivia Perez-Cubas, a spokeswoman for Rubio’s campaign. “Marco was one of the first Republicans to support the president’s funding request and has supported every single Zika proposal that has come up in the Senate. Meanwhile, Murphy continues to exploit this public health and economic emergency in order to score political points.

There were 705 cases of Zika in Florida as of Sept. 1. According to the Department of Health, 80 of those cases involved pregnant women, while 49 cases were locally acquired cases.

The organization is running similar ads in Tennessee and Mississippi.

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Bill Rufty: Polk becoming a two-Party county?

Polk County will likely never return to the Democratic bastion that was home to four U.S. senators, three governors, and four presidents of the Florida Senate.

But from Tuesday’s primaries and the fielding of candidates for the Nov. 8 general elections, Polk Democrats are slowly learning to make the now-GOP bastion a two-party county again.

There was a big Democratic Primary in eastern Polk County for Florida’s 9th Congressional District, but not one of the four candidates were from Polk.

However, for the first time in a decade, there was a Democratic Primary for Florida House District 41, which is fully contained within the county’s borders.

As the I-4 corridor begins to turn Democratic in performance, eastern Polk County appears to be following the trend. But the western side, which includes Lakeland, Bartow and Mulberry, is still the Republican stronghold it has been since 1996.

The highest level race in the county and much of Central Florida was a congressional race where a Democrat is almost certain to win a general election run after court-ordered redistricting.

State Sen. Darren Soto’s win over former Alan Grayson aide Susannah Randolph, Grayson’s wife Dr. Dena Grayson, and former Osceola County Democratic Party Chair Valleri Crabtree can be credited to the significant margin in Osceola County, a Democratic stronghold among the three counties making up the district. He barely won the Orange County section and came in third in the Polk County section of his district.

Democrats in Polk County are hoping to win a Florida House seat in Polk County for the first time since 1998.

Former Circuit Court Judge Bob Doyel handily won the Democratic Party’s nomination over Nicholas Garcia in the primary and now faces former contractor and Republican fundraiser Sam Killebrew, a formidable Republican activist.

Killebrew won the GOP nod by a narrow margin over former 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge Charles Davis.

It was Davis’ first run for a partisan political office and, although running as a Republican, he failed to adhere to what has become a tenant of the GOP: get the absentee voters first.

Davis won at the polls Tuesday, but longtime political planner and activist Killebrew won the race with the mail-in and early vote ballots.

The anticipated overhaul of the sometimes intransigent and stagnant Polk County School Board wound up about 50-50. After a scandal involving the then-superintendent and a top aide and the board’s slowness to do anything, many believed there would be tight contests for the four school board seats up for election this year.

One board member drew no opposition, while another, perhaps in part sensing public anger, did not seek re-election. That left two seats with incumbents and an open seat for the nonpartisan election in Tuesday’s primary.

Incumbent Lori Cunningham received more than 50 percent of the vote and was returned for her fourth four-year term.

But the other incumbent, Hunt Berryman, was a very distant second to the first-time candidate and school board critic Billy Townsend in the three-way race. Still, Townsend must now contend with Berryman in a runoff.

Becky Troutman, wife of former Florida House member and potential 2018 Cabinet candidate Baxter Troutman, led by 9,000 votes in the four-way race for the open school board seat, but did not get the required 50 percent of the vote. She will face Sara Beth Reynolds in the general election.

The most surprising win from a vote-margin standpoint was the re-election of Polk County Judge Susan Flood Barberdisciplined for an alleged romantic relationship with her bailiff.

She had been the target of some Republican leaders, who released photos of her looking at state attorney’s evidence against her while a deposition was in recess. Barber apparently didn’t realize the room’s security cameras were on, they said. It is a nonpartisan race, but so what? Parties don’t care when trying to elect one of their own.

But Barber was returned to the bench, winning by a margin of 5,500 votes over challenger Carson Bassett, due in part to a last-minute Facebook post from a well-known local attorney who endorsed her.

The results of Tuesday’s Primary elections in Polk County:

Polk Democratic Primary 9th Congressional District

Susannah Randolph – 4,791/34.67 percent

Dena Grayson – 4,534/32.81 percent

Darren Soto – 3,526/25.52 percent

Valleri Crabtree – 968/7 percent

Democratic Primary Entire 9th Congressional District

Darren Soto – 14,496/36.26 percent

Susannah Randolph – 11,267/28.18 percent     

Dena Grayson – 11,122/27.82 percent

Valleri Crabtree – 3,093/7.74 percent

Polk Republican Primary 9th Congressional District

Wayne Liebnitzky – 9,662/66.33 percent

Wanda Rentas – 4,904/33.67 percent

Republican Primary Entire 9th Congressional District

Wayne Liebnitzky – 22,725/67.56 percent

Wanda Rentas – 10,911/32.44 percent

Polk Republican Primary Florida House District 41

Sam Killebrew – 5,134/51.26 percent

Charles Davis – 4,881/48.74 percent

Polk Democratic Primary Florida House District 41

Bob Doyel – 5,360/64.95 percent

Nicolas Garcia  2,892/35.05 percent

Polk County Commission (Universal Ballot)

Bill Braswell – 40,889/66.21 percent

J.C. Martin – 20,868/33.79 percent

Polk County Judge

Susan Barber – 36,026/54.13 percent

Carson Bassett – 30,530/45.87 percent

Polk County School Board District 1

Billy Townsend (Runoff) – 27,978/42.64 percent

Hunt Berryman (Runoff) – 21,500/32.77 percent

Ed Shoemaker – 16,135/24.59 percent

Polk County School Board District 2

Lori Cunningham (Elected)  33,391/51.99 percent

Ronnie L. Clark – 17,202/26.78 percent

Kevin J. Kitto – 7,000/10.90 percent

Tim James – 6,634/10.33 percent

Polk County School Board District 4

Becky Troutman (Runoff) – 25,105/38.26 percent

Sara Beth Reynolds (Runoff) – 16,466/25.10 percent

Ed Smith – 16,085/24.52 percent

Rebekah Ricks – 7,956 /12.13 percent

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