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Mitch Perry Report for 10.16.15 — On DWS, David Jolly and the COS

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Happy Friday, y’all.

I want to draw your attention to two stories in the news this morning.

The first is a Daily Beast piece by Tim Mak with the unfortunate title of, “Scientology could get its own senator,” referring to David Jolly.

Jolly of course represents Clearwater in Congress, the “spiritual home” of the Church of Scientology (COS). While the title of the story is a bit absurd,  the content of the story is accurate in referring to a couple of events that Jolly has participated in with the church since being elected as the representative in CD 13 a year and a half ago.

As the piece notes, “Jolly is unwilling to publicly embrace or distance himself from the Church.”

That’s accurate, because he’s in a bit of a tough position. The politically popular thing would be to distance himself from any activities with COS, yet the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of Scientologists who live in Clearwater, all of whom are his constituents. And most are, as far as I know, good people. It’s the leadership that’s problematic. But I can tell you that his participation in one of those events last year definitely upset some people in the community who have their own issues with the COS — which is, to state the obvious, controversial.

Mak writes that while Jolly’s ties may have “paid dividends on the local level, “his connections with the COS may prove to be a liability. That remains to be seen. I doubt any of the other Republicans running in the U.S. Senate race will make an issue of this — however, there is a network of very alienated former members of the COS out in the world. Who knows what they might do with this intel.

Jolly (or any member of Congress representing Clearwater) is definitely in a tight situation, with the no clear rules of the road. We’ll be watching to see if anything substantive develops out of this.

Meanwhile, the other story of note is a piece in The New York Times today. It quotes R.T. Rebak, the former mayor of Minneapolis and current vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, saying that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz made“flat-out not true” statements about another fellow DNC vice chair, Tulsi Gabbard.

Gabbard, as you know, has been quite outspoken (as have many, many other Democrats) about the high-handed way that DWS has handled the situation regarding the number of presidential debates this year. DWS apparently “disinvited” her from attending Tuesday night’s debate in Las Vegas because of…well, I’m not quite sure why. Wasserman Schultz said that she had consulted with other top-ranking DNC officials about the debate schedule, but Rebak says that’s absolutely not true.

“This is not a back-and-forth between a chair and a vice chair,” he tells The Times. “This is a chair of the Democratic Party wrongly stating that she consulted with all of the party officers. I was not consulted. I know that Tulsi Gabbard was not consulted. And this is becoming about much more than debates.”

“The Democratic National Committee staff has never been stronger,” Rybak added. ”The one thing that could stop us from having a great election coming up is if the chair continues to create these self-made dramas that are below what a chair should be doing.”

There’s been a lot of criticism over the years about DWS’ abilities as head of the DNC. Some of it has been unfair, some, not so much.  Again, to be continued.

In other news…

Lots of fundraising info.

Jeb Bush raised twice as much as Marco Rubio in the third quarter of this year, but Marco has more cash on hand (by a million) going into the fall.

Patrick Murphy raised twice as much cash as Alan Grayson did in their Democratic U.S. Senate primary race.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam raised another $323,000 plus for his political action committee.

Bush incidentally announced his 228-member Hispanic Leadership Committee, which, as you might imagine, includes dozens of Floridians for Jeb.

And Marco Rubio welcomes Barack Obama’s announcement that he won’t be pulling any troops out of Afghanistan anytime soon. But Rubio doesn’t like the fact that the modest 9,800 troops are still scheduled to be reduced to 5,500 by January of 2017.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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