U.S. Senate Archives - Page 5 of 28 - SaintPetersBlog

Poll: Marco Rubio has double-digit lead over Patrick Murphy

Marco Rubio is poised to win re-election, according to a new Suffolk University poll.

The survey showed Rubio is walloping Republican Carlos Beruff, with 62 percent of likely Republican voters saying they were leaning toward voting for Rubio in the primary. About 12 percent of respondents said they would vote for Beruff, while nearly 24 percent of voters polled said they were undecided.

The lead over Beruff is unsurprising. Since announcing his re-election bid in June, Rubio has been considered the front-runner in the Republican primary. He’s been racking up endorsements, and has the backing of establishment Republicans.

And when it comes to the general election, Rubio maintains that double-digit lead over both Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson.

According to the poll, 46 percent of respondents said they would pick Rubio in November, while 33 percent said they would vote for Murphy. About 19 percent of likely Florida voters polled said they were undecided.

In a match-up between Rubio and Grayson, Rubio would receive 45 percent of the vote, while Grayson would receive 31 percent. About 22 percent of likely voters said they were undecided.

The seat has become one of the most watched Senate races in the country. Outside groups are prepared millions of dollars on the race, and Republicans have said Florida is critical to keeping control of the Senate.

The survey of 500 likely voters was conducted Aug. 1 through Aug. 3. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

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Patrick Murphy won’t debate Alan Grayson

Patrick Murphy will not participate in any forums or debates with Alan Grayson amid allegations of domestic violence.

The announcement came as Grayson and Democrat Pam Keith held a press conference at the Palm Beach County Courthouse to call for more debates in the U.S. Senate race.

“Over the last week, I have heard from many people, including survivors of domestic abuse, that Alan Grayson’s continued presence in this race is an insult to the countless Floridians whose lives have been affected by this kind of violence,” said the Treasure Coast Democrat said in a statement. “When a survivor of domestic abuse comes forward, we owe it to them to listen with an open heart.”

POLITICO reported last week that Grayson’s “ex-wife repeatedly went to the police with accusations of domestic abuse.” The accusations, POLITICO reported, were over a two-decade period. Grayson denied those allegations.

In the days following the POLITICO report, Grayson lost a few of his most prominent endorsers. According to the Tampa Bay Times, MoveOn.org, a nationally known progressive organization, is withholding an endorsement in the race in light of the allegations.

“Alan Grayson has refused to address these issues. Alan Grayson’s words have disqualified him from public service, and I cannot in good conscience give him a platform to promote himself and his campaign,” said Murphy. “As result, I will not participate in any forums or debates with Alan Grayson.”

Michael Ceraso, Grayson’s campaign manager, said Murphy was “exploiting this very personal family struggle for his own political gain.”

“Alan Grayson, like all of us, is a flawed individual. But he’s always been driven to help as many people as he can, especially the most vulnerable,” he said in a statement. “The media, in its attempt to cover his often-controversial style, hasn’t always been able to draw a complete picture of the man. Whether it is these allegations, or just his record of legislative accomplishment, the whole story isn’t being told.”

Ceraso said Grayson has discussed “these allegations and any other allegations openly with the press,” and would continue to do so for the rest of the campaign.

The two men were scheduled to participate in a debate Aug. 12. The debate, hosted by Channel 9 Eyewitness News, would have been the sole televised debate between the two men before the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

Murphy’s campaign did not agree to a debate hosted by WFME, a public radio station Central Florida. That decision prompted the press conference with Grayson and Keith, who were expected to call for more debates.

Ceraso said Keith was “unequivocal” about her willingness to debate Grayson alone or with Murphy.

“Perhaps Patrick Murphy has an issue debating with anyone in this primary, whether it’s Alan Grayson, or the only woman in the race,” he said.

Victims’ advocates were quick to support Murphy’s decision.

“With printed in black and white domestic abuse allegations against Alan Grayson, Patrick Murphy’s decision to pull the plug on a debate planned before this horrid news broke, is the right decision,” said state Sen. Audrey Gibson. “There should be no place on a platform designed to enlighten voters, for that which could potentially further victimize survivors of domestic abuse.”

Victims’ advocates were quick to support Murphy’s decision. In a statement Wednesday, Rep. Kristin Jacobs said the documented claims against Grayson “coupled with his recent statements — namely calling his longtime wife a ‘gold digger’ — disqualify him as a serious candidate.”

“Patrick Murphy’s decision to not give a platform that would legitimize Grayson’s candidacy was a good one and I support him in this,” said Jacobs, who escaped an abusive relationship after 10 years, in a statement. “Grayson’s repeated public statements amount to public bullying and in my opinion disqualify him from serving.”

Lauren Book, an activist who recently won her state Senate race, also said she supported Murphy’s decision, saying “domestic abuse and public bullying has no place in politics.”

“Rep. Grayson has repeatedly attempted to silence his ex-wife’s voice and has engaged in a public shaming campaign in his attempt to discredit her. While we do not know the specific facts behind her allegations during his lengthy marriage, we do know that Rep. Grayson’s attempts to publicly shame his ex-wife of 20 years are disgusting and outrageous,” said Book in a statement. “We need to stand unified against this kind of public bullying and unacceptable behavior from a sitting member of Congress. Grayson needs to end his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.”

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Another day, another poll showing Marco Rubio walloping Carlos Beruff

With just 27 days until the primary, a new poll shows Marco Rubio continues to hold a commanding lead over Carlos Beruff.

According to a survey from St. Pete Polls, Rubio leads Beruff by nearly 33 points. The survey found 55 percent of likely Republican primary voters polled would vote for Rubio, while 22 percent picked Beruff.

Nearly 19 percent of respondents said they would choose someone else in the Republican U.S. primary, while about 5 percent were undecided.

Rubio, a Miami Republican, has been leading in the polls since he announced he was running for re-election in June. He is believed to be the favorite in the race, and has the support of many top Republicans.

Rubio has strong support across all demographics. The survey found 69 percent of Hispanic voters said they would vote for Rubio, while about 13 percent said they would vote for Beruff. Rubio also saw strong support among millennial voters, with 67 percent saying they would vote for him.

Millions of voters have already received their absentee ballots, and thousands of ballots have already been cast ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

The survey was conducted on Aug. 2, and polled 1,835 likely Republican primary voters through an automated calling system. Voters were chosen at random from the state’s registered voting lists. The margin of error is 2.3 percent.

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Joe Henderson: Jim Norman’s climb to Hillsborough Commission steeper than he realized

Since the start of his campaign for Hillsborough County Commission District 6, Jim Norman has understood that he has a lot of explaining to do.

Right off the bat, he tried to address his checkered political past during a meeting last year with The Tampa Tribune editorial board.

As a metro columnist for that late, great newspaper, I sat in on the meeting.

I think it was basically a fiasco.

It’s not that Jim Norman isn’t one of the most likable people on the surface that you will ever meet. He is a salesman, and the product is himself. But as he hawked his wares that day, it kept coming back to that suspect deal where the late power broker and businessman Ralph Hughes gave Norman’s wife a $500,000 personal loan to buy some fancy digs in Arkansas.

Hughes was notable for, among many other things, having his name removed from the county’s “Moral Courage Award” following a public outrage. Norman was the commissioner who nominated him.

When details of the housing transaction became public, Norman – by then a rising power in the Florida State Senate – saw his political future dashed on the rocks. That was in 2012. He decided, wisely, not to run for re-election to the Senate, where it is entirely possible he would have been the president. That could have set him up to run for governor or even the U.S. Senate.

Instead, he is running now for a seat on the county commission, where he served 18 years before moving on to Tallahassee. His campaign began amid some fanfare, with donors pledging more than $100,000 in the first two months, about four-fifths of that in September.

One of the $1,000 donations came from Cast-Crete, a company Hughes owned.

Since then Norman has hit a wall, raising only about $20,000 as questions about his electability increased.

Republican challenger Tim Schock has all the momentum now for the Aug. 30 primary. Schock won the endorsement of the Tampa Bay Times and Monday, as reported by FloridaPolitics.com reporter Mitch Perry, basically doubled up Norman in a straw poll at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Political Hob Nob.

Unscientific or not, the poll showed the hill Norman has to climb may be steeper than even he realized.

During that meeting last year at the Tribune, Norman tried to confront his history. He quickly pointed out that he had passed a polygraph regarding his wife’s arrangement with Hughes, and the U.S. Attorney’s office investigated and decided to charge Norman with any wrongdoing.

It still looked, and looks, fishy.

At least as big an issue, though, is Norman’s record on the commission. He voted consistently in favor of developers, while helping turn Hillsborough into a misshapen hodgepodge of subdivisions, strip malls and car-clogged roadways.

He said he will do things differently this time if elected.

Although it was generally assumed Norman would be a formidable candidate, it is starting to look like he might not get that chance.

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GOP hits Patrick Murphy in Florida Senate race, and Barack Obama hits back

Republicans aren’t waiting until the primary to start attacking Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy in an effort to define him before he can define himself, a sign they believe that the U.S. congressman will be the nominee and the tougher candidate to beat in November.

The race in Florida is being closely watched since it could it tilt the U.S. Senate back to Democrats. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio initially said he wasn’t going to run for a new term, but changed his mind at the last minute.

The GOP focus so far has largely targeted Murphy as someone who embellished his resume by highlighting his work as a certified public accountant and a small business owner who helped clean the Gulf oil spill. Murphy was only licensed as a CPA in Colorado, not Florida, and the small business he refers to was set up by his wealthy father and only had a minuscule role in the Gulf cleanup.

But Murphy has some big supporters helping him fight back. President Barack Obama has recorded radio and television ads for Murphy, one of which tells viewers to not believe the attacks.

Murphy’s campaign ran them at a perfect time – during the Democratic National Convention when the most devoted party faithful were glued to their televisions. Vice President Joe Biden is also planning his third Florida stop on behalf of Murphy this week and a PAC attached to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is also plunking down $1 million in ads to boost Murphy.

“There’s millions of millions of dollars being spent against me by outside groups,” Murphy said. “They decided that they were going to attack me, and I’m sure from here on out, because they would probably love to run against Congressman (Alan) Grayson, but that doesn’t change who I am, that doesn’t change what I’m fighting for and what I want to do for Florida.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent $1.5 million and the Senate Leadership Fund PAC has spent $1 million on Murphy attack ads, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee has spent a much smaller amount on ads hitting Murphy in the Washington area. A PAC attached to Reid has spent $1 million defending him and the Murphy campaign spent about $1.7 million on ads featuring Obama, who told viewers not to believe the attacks against Murphy.

The Obama ad was a smart strategy, said Democratic pollster David Beattie, who isn’t working for either campaign.

“Obama is very popular with Democratic primary voters,” he said. “It’s saying, ‘Don’t believe the other things that you’re hearing’ and it’s delivered by a credible messenger.”

Still, Grayson’s campaign is grateful for the assist ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

The negative ads will hurt Murphy even though they may boost his name recognition, said Grayson campaign manager Mike Ceraso.

But Grayson, a Democrat from Orlando, has troubles of his own.

While he’s been popular with progressives, last week he was hit by allegations from the mother of his children that he abused her for two decades. Grayson denied the allegations, and said that she is the one who hit him and their five children. Still two progressive groups have rescinded their endorsements.

He’s also been dogged by ethics complaints over an offshore hedge fund he managed.

Republicans would rather face Grayson, a firebrand liberal, than Murphy, a moderate who has the backing of the party establishment and the resources that come with it. But considering how large Florida is – there are nearly 12.3 million registered voters – the GOP strategy is to try to knock Murphy down now before he gets a boost from a primary victory. He’s still largely unknown, and Republicans want to cast a negative light before voters pay more attention to him.

“Republicans are going to use every tool we have to make sure voters know Patrick Murphy is a fraud,” said Greg Blair, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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Marco Rubio focuses on national security in first re-election campaign ad

Marco Rubio is focusing on national security in his first Senate campaign advertisement.

The advertisement calls Rubio as a “national security leader,” and highlights opposition to, among other things, the Iran nuclear deal.

“Clinton, Grayson and Murphy. Three liberals with dangerous ideas on fighting terror. All three support the disastrous Iran deal, and would close Guantanamo. Standing in their way? Marco Rubio,” an announcer says in the 30-second spot. “A national security leader, Rubio wrote the toughest sanctions on Hezbollah ever passed. He led the fight against the Iran deal, and took on Obama, to block refugees from terrorist counties. Marco Rubio. Fighting to keep America safe.”

POLITICO Florida on Wednesday reported the campaign’s first ad buy was nearly $800,000 in ads in five media markets across the state.

Rubio announced last month he was running for re-election, and has spent the past two weeks campaigning across the state. He has a significant lead over Carlos Beruff, the Manatee County Republican challenging him, and is widely believed to come out on top in the Aug. 30 primary.

“Considering Marco Rubio’s record of missing votes and ignoring his duties as Senator, it’s no surprise his campaign and his establishment allies in Washington would have to make things up,” said Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the Beruff campaign about the new ad. “But his record is clear: Marco Rubio just can’t make up his mind on the issues that matter to Floridians and only fights the Obama Administration when it is politically convenient. Florida voters are fed up with this kind of failed leadership.”

Beruff, according to POLITICO Florida, has spent nearly $6 million in television ads thus far this election cycle.

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Carlos Beruff unveils immigration plan that includes ban on travel from Middle East

Build a wall. Ban travel from the Middle East. Stop funding for sanctuary cities.

Those are just some of the proposals included in Carlos Beruff’s plan to fix the immigration system. The plan, released Tuesday, focuses on three areas, securing the border, modernizing the legal immigration system, and ending abuses of the system.

“A country without borders is not a country. We must fix our immigration system, so we control who comes and goes, and that starts by securing our southern border,” said Beruff.

The first priority, Beruff said, is to secure the borders. In order to do that, Beruff proposes building a wall along the southern border — a proposal championed by Republican Donald Trump. In his proposal, Beruff said those who “mock the idea of building a wall do not want a secure border for our country.”

The Manatee County Republican also said the country needs to “temporarily ban all travel from from Middle East countries known to be a base for ISIS and other terrorist groups.” Beruff said Israel would be excluded from the temporary ban. So would Christians fleeing persecution, as long as their “personal histories can be verified by church records.”

“Many people from around the world want to come to this country to build better lives for themselves and their children. We should embrace America’s place in the world, but we must do so in a strategic, common-sense way,” said Beruff. “ISIS and others intent on doing us harm are looking to use any means possible to get into this country.  We need to be vigilant.”

Beruff also calls on lawmakers to modernize the legal immigration system. To do that, Beruff said he would implement an entry-exit visa tracking system and implement private sector solutions.

The plan also calls for a crackdown on H1-B visa abuses, cuts funding to so-called sanctuary cities, creates a mandatory E-Verify system, and creates a system where information is shared with state law enforcement officers. Beruff also calls on lawmakers to enact Kate’s Law, which creates mandatory minimum sentences for undocumented immigrants who were deported and then reenter the country.

“It is essential that we take our country back, and that starts by common sense reforms to our immigration system,” he said.

Beruff faces Marco Rubio in the Aug. 30 primary. Rubio, who announced he was running for re-election, currently leads in the polls and is widely expected to win the primary.

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America’s future space policy still a mystery from Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton

With wars, terrorism, gun violence, economic problems, national debt, immigration issues and other national crises, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton might be excused for focusing on them, yet many Floridians and particular Central Floridians are eagerly waiting to hear what they aren’t yet talking about, space.

The futures of NASA, commercial space initiatives, and defense programs are critical to the economy and future of Florida’s Space Coast and Central Florida, and by extension to the entire state, and to a rapidly evolving space industry that includes players ranging from giants like Boeing and Lockheed Martin to tiny space entrepreneurs trying to make a go on the Space Coast, in an uncertain political economy.

By this time in the 2012 presidential race Republican vice presidential designee Paul Ryan already had come to Orlando to deliver a major speech on the future of space, and the Mitt Romney campaign had issued a detailed white paper about the goals, objectives, and priorities of what his administration would pursue beyond Earth. President Barack Obama‘s space policies were official national policies, so they too were well-known.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and his Republican opponent U.S. Rep. Connie Mack also had talked extensively about space policy, and the issues were being robustly debated in key congressional races.

This year? Neither Trump nor Clinton has addressed space, except, reportedly, in occasional, short, simple answers to left-field questions at press conferences, while most Senate and congressional candidates haven’t said much more.

The Republican National Committee did add a space plank to its platform last week – the Democrats so far have not. The Republican space plank declares, “we must sustain our preeminence in space, launching more science missions, guaranteeing unfettered access, and maintaining a source of high-value American jobs.” Yet it offers no specifics.

Lost in those specifics is the potential for sweeping federal policy changes, as there are significant political differences about where America’s space priorities ought to be, and the implications can be profound.

“I don’t think we know what the platforms are,” said Mary Lynne Dittmar, executive director of the Coalition For Deep Space Exploration, which put out a white paper last month on space policy, suggesting what the federal candidates’ platforms should be, but haven’t heard back yet. “I wish we did have more information.”

Another white paper has been issued by an ad-hoc coalition, loosely competing with some of the deep space coalition’s interests. That group includes such players as the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, the Aerospace Industries Association, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Astronautical Society, and Space Florida.

Dale Ketcham, chief of strategic alliances for Space Florida, Florida’s space industry development arm, said he expects the candidates’ space platform details to emerge as the candidates begin considering how to win Florida.

“The success we’ve had in the past in promoting space policy during a presidential campaign really has only gained traction late in the campaign, late August … September … when the campaigns are beginning to hone their messages to geographic areas,” Ketcham said. “The closer we get to election day, the more those campaigns refine their messages to specific regions. No region has been more important than the I-4 corridor. So we’re continuing to work that communication between the four purple states, Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Colorado [which all have huge NASA, DoD and private space communities,] because as those messages refine we should be able to gain more position in discussing space policy.”

There is ample room for debate, even between the two big space industry coalitions’ white papers.

The Obama administration has several major space policies with which not everyone agrees. For human space exploration, NASA has set its sights on Mars and is investing much of its research,  energy and tens of billions of dollars to get there in about 20 years. For that to happen, NASA is turning over almost all lower-Earth-orbit activity to the private sector, including not-to-distant-future ferrying of American astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

To do that, NASA is investing billions of dollars in private space companies, to make them viable until they can profitably take over all that activity.

Meanwhile, NASA’s non-human exploration programs, including sending orbiters and rovers all over the solar system, using satellites to study the Earth and cosmos, and developing particular sciences and technologies aboard the space station, all are in me-first tugs-of-war for scheduling and funding.

Not everyone in politics or the space industry thinks NASA should be abdicating lower-Earth dominance to private businesses. Not everyone thinks Mars is all that good of an idea. And what about the moon? What’s this plan NASA has for sending astronauts to an asteroid?

Meanwhile, Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are being turned into a multi-user, public-private-military spaceport, where government space projects become a small part of the action. Yet competing spaceports in Texas, California, Virginia and potentially a dozen other states are positioning themselves to compete.

And internationally? Europeans, Russians, Chinese and Indians all are trying challenge America’s space leadership in various segments of the future market, with heavy subsidies or state ownership of the companies competing.

It’s not just Trump or Clinton, though clearly one of them will be setting the stage.

“We have three branches of government. They’re not expected to see things eye-to-eye. But with regard to space policy, cohesion between the White House and Congress is very helpful,” said Dittmar, whose group includes big players such as Aerojet Rocketdyne, Orbital ATK, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. “There is some disconnect. The White House and NASA have made requests for the budget that are not consistent with where Congress was coming down.”

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In Philly, Keith Ellison compares Marco Rubio to Donald Trump

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison gave a fiery speech to the Florida Democratic Party delegation Tuesday morning, where he slammed Marco Rubio, unfavorably comparing him to GOP standard-bearer Donald Trump.

“A lot has been made about Trump’s hatred all the time, but some of you might want to remember that he wasn’t the only one pumping out hate all the time. He was not the only one talking hate — I remember a guy named Marco Rubio talking a lot of hate. I have not forgot the hate of Marco Rubio talking about Syrians and kicking them out of our country and they can’t come here, and they’re bad and we don’t want them.”

“This guy — Marco Rubio — he’s not different than  Trump; he’s just not as slick. He should not get credit just because he’s not as slick a salesman as Trump. He is the same kind of guy,” Ellison continued.

In 2015, Rubio did give qualified support to accepting Syrian refugees, but then reversed his position after the Paris bombing attacks last November, with the exceptions for certain groups like young orphans and elderly widows.

Still on a roll, Ellison then recalled how Rubio had said on numerous occasions last year he would not run again for his U.S. Senate seat. “I don’t know why he would want to run again, he said he didn’t like the job. He didn’t show up for it very much. “

“I’m telling you right now: He. Must. Go. The whole lot of them must go!,” Ellison said of the Florida senator, who is running against Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff in the Republican Senate primary. The winner will take on the Democratic candidate in the fall.

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Marco Rubio disappointed by ‘politicization of Zika’

Marco Rubio said he was disappointed a $1.1 billion Zika funding plan did not clear the Senate before summer recess, as the number of cases in Florida rose to more than 300 this week.

“One of the most disappointing things I’ve ever seen is the politicization of Zika,” said Rubio, a Miami Republican, during a stop in Fort Myers Monday. “I voted for every Zika bill. Every one of them. I just want the money to flow so we can get ahead of this.”

The U.S. Senate left for summer recess last week without passing a $1.1 billion bill to combat the Zika virus. The House-approved bill included a provision to block Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rick from receiving money to fight the virus. Democrats opposed the measure, saying Republicans were playing politics with Zika funding.

The mosquito-borne illness can also be sexually transmitted, and has been shown to cause birth defects in children. During a Senate foreign relations subcommittee hearing last week, Sen. Barbara Boxer said lawmakers restricted “funding for birth control, even though they know it is the first line of defense.”

“There’s no room for politics,” she said during the hearing.

Rubio echoed that this week, saying both sides need to come together to act on the issue. Funding, he said, would allow federal officials to provide “more money for mosquito control, more research to help us get a vaccine, and the ability to make commercially available a test.”

“Today the only way to get tested for Zika is to send it to the state Department of Health, which means a lot of people who potentially have it aren’t being tested,” he said.

There are 319 cases of travel-related Zika in Florida. Of that number, 43 cases involve pregnant women regardless of symptoms. Nationwide, there are more than 1,305 cases of travel-related Zika.

While the administration has some Zika funding at its disposal, inaction on the issue could lead to delays in developing a vaccine and advanced mosquito-fighting techniques. Lawmakers aren’t scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., until after Labor Day.

___

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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