Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
LET’S START WITH A QUICK SHOT & CHASER
NOW, LET’S THROW OUT THERE THREE HOT RUMORS
#1 – Debra Henley is exiting the Florida Justice Association, three different sources tell FloridaPolitics.com, although FJA spokesman Ryan Banfill would not comment about the organization’s personnel moves. But from the sound of others, it’s almost certain Henley is on the way out, it’s just a matter of timing (she might even stay through next session).
#2 – Former state Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Weatherford’s Right Hand, and soon-to-be former Rep. Doug Holder, R-Governors Club Lounge, will soon hang out their own shingle as lobbyists. The besties were spotted all over Tallahassee this week, fueling speculation that they will open up shop not long after Election Day (and early enough to avoid any of the rule changes Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran is implementing.) Holder told FloridaPolitics.com nothing has been finalized, but he does enjoy the Capital City and believes both he and Schenck still have a lot to offer to The Process.
#3 – Is today the day Paul Tash and the other executives at the Tampa Bay Times follow through on their threat of more layoffs in the newsroom? One veteran reporter thought they were going down Wednesday, but another scribe said the newspaper, if it does let go of anyone, would likely do it sometime near Election Day so that the news gets drowned out.
AND HERE’S OUR SCOOP FROM THURSDAY – LIZ DUDEK IS JOINING THE WHITE SHOES AT GREENBERG TRAURIG – “I am thrilled to be adding a well-respected health care professional like Liz to Greenberg Traurig’s team here in Tallahassee,” said Fred Baggett, managing shareholder of GT’s Tallahassee office. “Her extensive experience in the public sector will complement our existing practice as we continue to grow,” he added. “As a leader in the regulation of health care for many years, her distinctive knowledge and expertise are unsurpassed.” Dudek’s vast knowledge of the federal-state health care system made her a shoo-in for a lucrative consulting job. And she is not subject to the state’s two-year ban on lobbying by former state agency employees because she was hired before July 2, 1989, according to state law. She served in a succession of positions in the agency: bureau chief of Certificate of Need/Budget Review, bureau chief of Health Facility Compliance, assistant deputy secretary of Managed Care and Health Quality, and deputy secretary of the Division of Health Quality Assurance. “By joining Greenberg Traurig, I know I am joining a team that places integrity and professionalism above all else,” Dudek said.
KEY RACE IN FOCUS – FLORIDA’S 7TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
On June 19, Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica of Winter Park, who has almost always cruised to re-election for his 12 terms so far, didn’t even have an opponent, and now he’s in the race of his life.
And on June 19, Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park had hardly a blip of political exposure — and wasn’t even a Democrat yet — but now she’s the darling of national Democrats and rallying a long-dormant Democratic base in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.
This has quite unexpectedly turned into one of the hottest congressional battles in America, between a deeply-established incumbent and a business professor and small investment firm executive. National political and special interest groups such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Rifle Association that love one of them or hate the other and are spending millions of dollars in Orlando to show it.
Experience versus youth. Old school versus new school. Conservative versus Progressive. The 20th century versus the 21st. Man versus woman. White versus minority (Murphy is Vietnamese-American.) Highways and trains, airports and simulation centers, veterans’ hospitals and businesses, versus gun violence solution imperatives, gay rights advocacy, women’s rights advocacy, wage differential concerns, and diplomatic solutions to foreign threats.
Washington establishment versus local. But which one is Washington establishment and which one is local?
Mica, 73, spent at least significant parts of four decades in Washington, including the years he spent as chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Paula Hawkins in the 1980s. But perhaps no politician is more plugged in with the Central Florida chambers of commerce, the business community, civic groups and local governments.
Except for time in Washington as a national security analyst in the George W. Bush administration, Murphy, 38, has been a Winter Park businesswoman and educator, with deep personal ties locally. But she has received the overwhelming backing of Washington Democratic groups, backed with $3 million in outside advertising and support so far.
She contends that Mica and his ideas are outdated and he’s out of touch, especially with the newly drawn CD 7, which is far more diverse than the district he represented for so long.
“We need a leader who has actually lived in the community and not in Washington for the last 30 years,” Murphy said. “but here in Central Florida, in the community, and who understands what the needs of working families, are and knows how to address those.”
Mica contends the backing of Murphy is all about Democratic U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s strategy to win back the House, saying he’s “caught in Washington power politics.”
Murphy, he contends, has “limited accomplishments., limited activity in the community. She’s embellished her record. She seems to be a nice lady. But she’s also being used in this election by both Pelosi and those who want to gain more power in Washington. That’s unfortunate.”
The policy differences are apparent, though Mica contends Murphy and her allies have mischaracterized his, which he said are more pragmatic than portrayed in numerous TV commercials and mailers.
She’s supportive of efforts to end the wage gap; believes foreign affairs must be addressed diplomatically and with limited strategic military strikes; supports the Iran deal; wants to see Social Security and Medicare improved without cutting or limiting them; is pro-choice; an advocate of full equality for women and gays; and sees closing gun background check loopholes and terrorist access to guns as paramount.
He’s pro-free-market business; believes America must show more strength against foreign adversaries; believes the Iran deal was a huge mistake; believes Social Security and Medicare can be shored up with private-sector involvement; is pro-life but says he has voted for women’s rights bills; has voted against gay marriage; and agrees that the background check and terrorist access to guns issues must be addressed, but carefully to not risk any rights of law-abiding citizens.
“His values and priorities on women and equality issues and on economic opportunity are outdated,” Murphy said.
“I’m a fiscal conservative in my voting, and I try to work out issues by working both sides of the aisle,” Mica said.
And there is the issue of seniority. Mica, with 12 terms, has lots of it, and credits it for arranging federal approval and money for a long list of Central Florida needs, ranging from the I-4 expansion to the new Veterans Affairs hospital.
“This is about experience and broad-based support in this community, versus inexperience,” Mica said.
It’s about much more than that, Murphy countered.
“Any leader for this community is going to advocate for its economic interests and work to bring federal funds back home. But that’s the bare minimum we should expect,” she said. “We need leaders who are going to represent our interests and values.”
***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business — from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 350 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***
DRAMATIC RISE OF RENEGADE ‘NO PARTY’ VOTERS IS RESHAPING STATE POLITICS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Three simple letters have ignited a civic rebellion in Florida that could reshape the state’s politics for decades to come. The letters are NPA. It’s short for no party affiliation, for voters who refuse to label themselves Republicans or Democrats because they do not identify with either party. They are deserting the two major parties in droves, mostly in South Florida and in greater Orlando, and many are young and Hispanic. Far outpacing both parties, they are the fastest-growing segment of Florida’s electorate, but they are a sleeping giant. Many of them don’t vote, and some are so turned off by the negative tone and extreme partisanship of politics that they have no interest in voting.
More than one of every five no-party voters in Florida is listed as Hispanic. The actual figure is probably much higher because voters do not have to list race or ethnicity on a registration form, and many don’t. The 3.2 million people who avoid both major parties now are 27 percent of all Florida voters as Republicans and Democrats continue to lose political ground in America’s biggest battleground state. Two decades ago, 47 percent of Florida voters were Democrats and 41 percent were Republicans. With the continuing rise of no-party voters, Democrats now make up 38 percent and Republicans 35 percent, but Republicans control two-thirds of the 160 seats in the Legislature. When NPAs are combined with a much smaller pool of minor-party voters, they outnumber Republicans in the three most populous counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, along with Orange and Osceola on the I-4 corridor in Central Florida. They eclipse Democrats in seven counties: Clay, Collier, Lee, Martin, Okaloosa, St. Johns and Santa Rosa. Many are first-time registrants who sign up to vote when they apply for a Florida driver’s license under the federal “motor voter” law. Tax collectors and license clerks must provide voter registration forms to their customers.
CRYSAL BALL: IS CLINTON SLIPPING? via Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley of Sabato’s Crystal Ball — Hillary Clinton has picked an awful time to hit one of the rough patches that has plagued her throughout the campaign. Now with just days to go until Election Day, there’s added uncertainty about the outcome. But while she may not be on the brink of an Electoral College win the size of Barack Obama’s in 2008 or even 2012, her position as the clear frontrunner in this race endures. … While Democrats are quite right to be nervous about the outcome, we as handicappers do not at this point believe there is enough of a compelling argument to believe that the race is truly a Toss-up, let alone that Trump is favored. Does that mean Trump can’t win? Of course not: If some of the national tracking polls showing a tie, like surveys from ABC News/Washington Post and IBD-TIPP, are correct, than the election may truly be something of a jump ball, because in a tied national race we don’t see any additional “blue wall” defense for Clinton in the Electoral College.
In a very close or tied national race, states like Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and others could become Toss-ups too. We just don’t think that’s where we’re at, and state-level polling continues to show Clinton leading in all of those vital states. … These new ratings leave just 31 electoral votes’ worth of Toss-ups: The big prize of Florida (29), and two votes in Maine and Nebraska’s second congressional districts. Our sense right now is that Florida is a total Toss-up, while Trump may have an edge in the two districts, but we’re not ready to lean any of them yet. … We’re holding at 272 “hard” Safe or Likely electoral votes for Clinton, and an additional 21 electoral votes leaning to her (Nevada and North Carolina). Trump is now at 214, better than Romney’s 2012 total of 206, but also without a clear path to add the 56 additional electoral votes he needs to get to 270. Again, even adding Florida, the two Toss-up House districts, and Leans Democratic North Carolina and Nevada would only get him to 266.
CLINTON HOLDS WHOPPING LEAD OVER DONALD TRUMP WITH HISPANICS via Louis Nelson of POLITICO Florida – Sixty-seven percent of Hispanic likely voters who responded to the nationwide poll said they support Clinton, while just 19 percent favored Trump. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate polled at 4 percent while the Green Party’s Jill Stein came in at 2 percent … Just 20 percent of respondents said they held either a very favorable or somewhat favorable view of Trump, compared to 69 percent who said the same of Clinton. Twenty-eight percent said they view Clinton very or somewhat unfavorably, while 76 percent held those views of Trump. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they believe Trump is racist. Among the respondents to The Washington Post/Univision poll, 15 percent identified immigration as the most important issue they will consider in deciding their vote. Only “jobs and the economy” was listed as more important, with 28 percent selecting it as the issue that will most help them decide who to vote for. The Washington Post/Univision poll was conducted from Oct. 26-30, interviewing 1,008 Hispanic likely voters on landlines and cellphones in English and in Spanish. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.5 points.
BARACK OBAMA TAUGHT TRUMP A POLITICAL LESSON IN JACKSONVILLE via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Obama and Trump both made plays in the Jacksonville media market … Each man gave a speech; Trump in the early afternoon, then President Obama later on. One man looked presidential. The other was left gasping for air. Trump gave a speech intended as a blasting indictment of Clinton, yet the optics under-delivered. There are those who say entry was closed at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, where the speech was held. Maybe that was the case. But there was plenty of standing room in the back of the house, and even room to sit up top. And though the front of the house was packed and looked that way in photographs, the crowd was a fraction of Trump’s previous Jacksonville rally in August, which saw the candidate filling the Veterans Memorial Arena downtown. As has been the case during all of Trump’s rallies, the crowd began to leave halfway through the speech; as if they saw the spectacle and wanted to beat the traffic. And, though he tried, he couldn’t quite get the local color right: he talked up JAXPORT, but called it “Jack Port.” Soon after, President Obama gave a speech across town at the University of North Florida. Here’s a measure of how good a politician he is: he started off the speech with the UNF Osprey “swoop,” which has become iconic in recent years, but never more so than Nov. 3, 2016. The 6,000 seat UNF Arena: packed, with a line of people outside who couldn’t get in, and an overflow room.
OBAMA TRIES TO SUMMON LAST-MINUTE POLITICAL MAGIC FOR CLINTON IN MIAMI via Patricia Mazzei and Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – Banging his fist and pounding his lectern … Obama tried in Miami to conjure a little last-minute political magic for Clinton, the sort of excitement that twice elected a president of hope who was nevertheless unable to prevent a 2016 presidential race of gloom. “It’s about what can be achieved by us, the people, together, through the heart, soul and, yes, sometimes frustrating work of self-governing,” he said. “That’s not what Donald Trump stands for, but it is what Hillary stands for: The idea that in this big, diverse country of ours, we don’t demonize each other. We reach out and try to work together.” Casting Trump as a vapid entertainer, Obama seemed intent on jolting disenchanted voters who, ballot returns show, have lagged in voting early and by mail and as a result left Florida once again in pure toss-up territory ahead of Tuesday’s election. “This isn’t a joke. This isn’t ‘Survivor.’ This isn’t ‘The Bachelorette.’ This counts,” Obama said. “All of you are uniquely qualified to make sure that this uniquely unqualified person does not become president.”
THE FINAL CAMPAIGN PUSH — Both the Trump and Clinton campaigns are making one final push through the Sunshine State this weekend. Expect to see top surrogates from both campaigns crisscrossing the state making one last appeal to voters before Election Day. Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential nominee, will stump for Trump in South Florida today. He’s scheduled to hold a rally at 7 p.m. at the Renaissance Ballroom, 5910 SW 8th St. in Miami. Doors open for the event at 5 p.m. Hillary Clinton is scheduled to hold a public campaign event in South Florida on Saturday. Details about the visit weren’t immediately available. Democrat Tim Kaine is scheduled to hold a get out the vote event at 5:15 p.m. at the Florida Institute of Technology Clemente Center, 3011 Panther Place in Melbourne. Kaine will continue his swing Saturday with a canvassing kickoff event at 1:30 p.m. at Florida SouthWestern State College, Thomas Edison (Lee) Campus, 8099 College Parkway in Fort Myers. He’ll then head to a canvassing kick-off at 4:45 p.m. at the Sarasota Democratic National Committee Organizing Office, 1963 12th Street, Unit A, in Sarasota. The Virginia Democrat will finish up the day at a get out the vote concert with Jon Bon Jovi at 7 p.m. at the State Theatre, 687 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. On Sunday, Obama will return to Florida for a get out the vote rally at 1:30 p.m. at the Osceola County Stadium, 631 Heritage Park Way in Kissimmee.
FOR FLORIDA’S FUTURE, OTHERS HOST ‘SOULS TO THE POLLS’ EVENTS ACROSS THE STATE — The statewide organization, along with Faith in Florida, AFSCME Florida and SEIU, will host a dozen “Souls to the Polls” events across Florida. The events are meant to facilitate African-American voters of faith across the state to make sure their voices are heard. The events — scheduled for Jacksonville, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, Orlando, Palm Beach area, Tallahassee, and Tampa area — will feature a variety of live entertainment, family fund and speakers to support community spirit. For more information, visit this link.
DONALD TRUMP FOCUSES ON FBI INVESTIGATION IN NEW AD — The Trump campaign released a new ad Thursday. The 30-second spot, called “Corruption,” accuses Clinton of pay to play politics. “The Clintons, from dead broke to worth hundreds of millions. So how did Hillary end up filthy rich? Pay to play politics, staggering amounts of cash poured into the Clinton Foundation from criminals, dictators, countries that hate America,” a narrator says in the advertisement. “Hillary cut deals for donors. Now the FBI has launched a new investigation. After decades of lies and scandal, her corruption is closing in.” Click the image below to watch the ad.
TRUMP’S MAN IN FLORIDA A BELIEVER FROM START OF LONG-SHOT BID via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Joe Gruters forged a relationship with Trump in 2012 after party leaders snubbed the New York real estate magnate at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Then the Sarasota Republican chairman, Gruters knew something GOP elites did not — Trump’s celebrity resonated with rank-and-file party members. He cold called Trump’s businesses to invite him to speak in Sarasota the night before the convention where he was denied a speaking slot … Trump agreed. “This Joe’s some piece of work,” Trump said when he took the stage that night. Now that “piece of work” is Trump’s campaign co-chair in Florida. It was Gruters who convinced Trump to put his Florida primary headquarters in Sarasota. Gruters established early on a network of Trump-loyalists in all 67 counties, acted as a press surrogate and was responsible for the list of delegates that would go to the Republican National Convention. Often the opening act at Trump’s Florida rallies, Gruters has come a long way from a childhood where a speech impediment made it hard for him to say his name. Having overcome the impediment, Gruters now finds himself leading crowds in “Trump-Pence” chants. If Trump wins the White House, Gruters would be in an enviable spot — an early Trump supporter with access to the upper levels of Trump’s circle. It seemed improbable in early 2015, when most high-ranking Florida Republicans lined up behind Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. “Joe’s taken some risks, but those risks are paying off,” Florida Republican Party chairman Blaise Ingoglia said.
JEB BUSH HAS VOTED, BUT WE DON’T KNOW FOR WHOM via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Miami-Dade County election records show his mail ballot was received Oct. 17. But a Bush spokeswoman … wouldn’t say which candidate Bush picked in the presidential race. The former Florida governor has said he won’t vote for Trump or Clinton. One of Bush’s sons, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, speculated … that both his grandfather and uncle — the two former Presidents George Bush — might vote for Clinton. “Potentially. But hard to speculate,” the younger Bush said … “I don’t know how they voted. I’m speculating, to be honest.” George P. Bush, who’s said to be eyeing the Texas governorship, is the only current or former elected member of the clan who’s said he’s backing Trump.
POLL: ‘SHY TRUMP’ VOTERS ARE A MIRAGE via Steven Shepard of POLITICO – A new study suggests an army of hidden Trump supporters is unlikely to materialize on Election Day … According to a new study … a hidden army of Trump voters that’s undetected by the polls is unlikely to materialize on Election Day. The study — which was comprised of interviews with likely voters conducted over the phone with a live interviewer, and other interviews conducted online without a personal interaction — showed only a slight, not-statistically-significant difference in their effect on voters’ preferences for president. That’s despite an emerging disparity in the public polling: Clinton leads Trump by 4 percentage points in national, live-interview phone polls, according to HuffPost Pollster’s average as of Wednesday night — but only by 2.6 points in online and automated phone polls.
MOST VOTERS HAVEN’T CHANGED THEIR MINDS ALL YEAR via Dan Hopkins of Five Thirty Eight — For many Americans … this election can’t end soon enough. Fifty-nine percent of Americans reported that they were “exhausted” by election coverage — and that was in early summer. Since then, those following the campaign have been drinking from a fire hose of election news: the conventions, the Khan family, Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia and stumble, Donald Trump’s taxes and the Access Hollywood tape, and James Comey’s latest announcement, to name just a few. But how much have these story lines actually changed the race? That’s a hot topic these days, with some polls showing dramatic swings toward Trump while others have hardly budged. Writing at YouGov, Ben Lauderdale and Doug Rivers make the case that a lot of what we are seeing is driven by changes in who responds to surveys, not in who voters intend to support. If so, this presidential race might be more stable than you would think by looking at polls on a given day. … There is very little movement between the two major-party candidates. 0.5 percent of respondents were with Clinton in January and are now with Trump, while only 1.5 percent of our respondents moved from Trump to Clinton. There is far more movement from not supporting either candidate to backing one than from supporting one major-party candidate to supporting the other. That, in turn, stabilizes the horse race to some degree: Voters who can be persuaded to switch sides are twice as influential, since they affect both candidates’ tallies simultaneously. … With Nov. 1 happening to fall on a Tuesday this year, Election Day is slated for Nov. 8, the latest date on which elections can take place under the “first Tuesday after the first Monday” rule. And with daylight saving time providing an extra hour this weekend, it feels a bit like the fates have conspired to make this an asymptotic election, one that gets closer but never ends. Still, from this data, it looks as if a snap election in January might just have produced similar results.
ELECTION HOTLINE RECEIVES 1,700 CALLS FROM FLORIDA VOTERS via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Groups that operate an election help hotline have received 1,700 calls from Florida voters with questions or concerns, more than they’ve received in any other state. The national Election Protection hotline (1-866-Our-Vote) is run by a group of voting rights groups, including Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Florida C3 Civic Engagement Table, the ACLU, and Common Cause. Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said that a majority of the calls have been related to vote-by-mail. “Many are calling to inquire about vote-by-mail,” she said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday. “In fact, more than 700 inquiries have involved vote-by-mail issues in Florida.” Clarke said the largest number of phone calls have come from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties…. On election night, the coalition will have 200 lawyers, law students, and volunteers at polling places in Mimai-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Orange, Hillsborough, and Duval Counties. Among the groups helping will be the AFL-CIO and other “friends in labor,” Clarke said.
HOW A TALLAHASSEE AUTHOR WITH CLOSE TIES TO TRUMP WOUND UP AT THE EPICENTER OF THE CLINTON FBI INVESTIGATION via Brian Burgess of The Capitollist – Late Wednesday, news broke that the FBI had obtained secret recordings of a suspect talking about potential illegal dealings at the Clinton Foundation. In the same story, the Wall Street Journal reported that FBI agents used an anti-Clinton book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” as a road map to aid their investigation. The author of that book, Peter Schweizer, lives in Tallahassee and works at the little-known Government Accountability Institute, which is nestled in a quiet office complex hidden off Thomasville Road just south of I-10. Schweizer also has close ties to Trump campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon, who is listed as “executive chairman and co-founder” of GAI. The connection between Schweizer and Bannon is well-known, but news that Schweizer’s book helped spur the FBI investigation has not previously been disclosed, nor was it known that officials at the U.S. Department of Justice were not inclined to pursue the investigation, possibly because of Schweizer’s conservative background … the Government Accountability Institute houses an impressive array of “lawyers, data scientists and forensic investigators.” The organization also employs a high-tech data mining operation that relies on a $1.3 billion computer network to scour the “Dark Web” for information and data, that, according to Bloomberg, “yielded a slew of unreported foundation donors who appear to have benefited financially from their relationship with the Clintons.”
MARCO RUBIO HAS A 6-POINT LEAD OVER PATRICK MURPHY IN NEW FLORIDA POLL via Florida Politics — A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows Rubio has a 6 percentage point lead over Murphy. According to the poll, 50 percent of respondents backed Rubio, compared to 44 percent for Murphy. Five percent of voters said they either didn’t know who they were voting for or were voting for someone else. The poll of 626 likely Florida voters has a margin of error of 3.9 percent. The new Quinnipiac University poll found Rubio has support from 54 percent of independent voters and 87 percent of Republicans. He also leads among white voters with a college degree (56 percent-40 percent) and without a college degree (59 percent-35 percent). Murphy, the poll found, is supported by 59 percent of non-white voters. He also has the backing of 83 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Republicans.
ALAN GRAYSON UNLEASHES ON MURPHY, DEMOCRATIC PARTY via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Grayson unloaded to his supporters … In a scorched-earth rant entitled “What $10 million buys from the Democratic Party,” he vented his bitter frustration about Murphy and Democratic Party leaders. The piece is riddled with attacks and accusations against Murphy, his wealthy father and Democratic leaders and fundraising groups — none of whom have responded to requests for comment from the Herald/Times. So given his clear disdain, whom is Grayson voting for this fall? The soon-to-be outgoing congressman reiterated in an email … “I will be voting for Hillary Clinton for president. I haven’t decided who will get my Senate vote, but it will not be Patrick Murphy.” In his email blast, Grayson claims a “Murphy political operative” told someone within his own campaign earlier this summer that Murphy’s father, Tom Murphy Jr., had made a promise wherein “the Democratic Party could expect to see $10 million if it delivered the nomination to [Patrick] Murphy.” Tom Murphy has given large sums of money to support his son’s candidacy, but his nearly $3 million in contributions so far is still a far cry from the $10 million Grayson alleges he promised. Grayson argues it’s “implausible … without Tom Murphy’s promised cash” for both the Senate Majority PAC (a Democratic super PAC) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to have afforded pledges last spring for $10 million each in fall ad time to help Murphy.
FOR MURPHY AND FRIEND IBRAHIM AL-RASHID, POLITICAL GIVING WENT TOGETHER via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Years before Ibrahim Al-Rashid began causing problems for his friend Murphy, they were in synch down to their political giving. Beginning with matching $2,300 contributions to Mitt Romney on the same day in 2007, Murphy and Al-Rashid, who met years earlier at prep school, made a series of corresponding donations to politicians just as Murphy was trying to become one. On March 18, 2010, for example, Al-Rashid and Murphy maxed out to Charlie Crist’s U.S. Senate campaign, giving two donations each of $2,400, maxing out. Family members of Al-Rashid’s did the same. … The contributions help fill out the picture of Murphy’s connections and access to political money that has propelled his career. An unknown in politics, the early donations likely helped gain him access to key figures, from Crist to Bill Nelson. Al-Rashid was back in the news on Wednesday when The Hill reported that the FBI is looking at an alleged illegal straw donor scheme. Murphy sought to discredit the report Wednesday. “I haven’t been contacted, nor has my team,” the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate said. “Please point out one sentence in my story that Patrick Murphy disputes. Just one,” shot back the reporter. Not in dispute: Murphy’s ties to Al-Rashid, son of a Saudi billionaire. As the Palm Beach Post noted Wednesday, Al-Rashid has given nearly $400,000 to Murphy’s campaigns over the years and to outside groups supporting him.
***Smart employers know an inclusive workforce makes good business sense and helps secure Florida’s future. Only 30% of Floridians with disabilities are working. Explore the talent in the untapped 70%. Find out how at AbleTrust.org***
OUT-OF-STATE GROUPS DOMINATE FUNDRAISING IN FINAL MONTHS OF FLORIDA’S MEDICAL MARIJUANA FIGHT via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Since Sept. 1, for every $1 donated to the two political committees behind the Yes and No on Amendment 2 campaigns from inside Florida, $2 has come from out-of-state. In all, $3.7 million in donations have been made in the last two months to United for Care, the political committee supporting medical marijuana, and Drug Free Florida, the group opposing it. Of that, roughly $2.6 million has come from out-of-state donors. Much of it can be attributed to one big donor, Las Vegas casino mogul and anti-marijuana crusader Sheldon Adelson, whose two checks totaling $1.5 million represents almost half of Drug Free Florida’s funds all year. But United for Care, too, has attracted more than $1 million from business interests and activists, particularly those in Washington, D.C., New York and Colorado. Most of it has been from activist group New Approach PAC, but United for Care’s donors include companies based in Denver and Seattle, like social media platform MassRoots, marijuana edibles and infusion company Allied Concessions Group and cannabis investors Privateer Holdings. A few things explain this trend, but one of the most obvious is this: Florida is one of the biggest states that does not yet have marijuana. For companies in the growing marijuana industry, that could mean big profits.
DCCC LAUNCHES RADIO AD CAMPAIGN FEATURING BARACK & MICHELLE OBAMA IN TWO FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced it would begin airing radio ads featuring President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in Florida’s 7th Congressional District and Florida’s 13th Congressional District. The radio spots featuring the the Obamas will run through Nov. 7 in Orlando and Tampa markets. The ads are slated to run on hip-hop, R&B, and urban contemporary radio stations in hopes of maximizing “impressions to African-American voters in these two districts, impressing upon them the stakes of this historic election and urging them to Get Out the Vote,” according to the organization. “Each and every voice will make a difference in this high-stakes election, and this radio advertising effort courtesy of Barack and Michelle Obama is a critical part of the plan for House Democrats to pick up seats in Florida on Election Day,” said Ben Ray Luján, chairman of the DCCC. “We have long recognized the need to engage critical Democratic base voters, including African-Americans, Latinos, and millennials, and I am thankful that the Obamas are urging the American people to turn out early and strongly in Florida and key districts across the country.”
NYDIA VELAZQUEZ HELPING STEPHANIE MURPHY WITH PUERTO RICAN VOTE IN CD 7 via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Velazquez, a New York Democrat with a high profile in her native Puerto Rico, has joined Murphy for the closing days of her campaign to help her mobilize votes in Florida’s 7th Congressional District’s sizable Puerto Rican communities. Murphy … is trying to unseat Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica in a district that, since redrawn, is about 20 percent Hispanic, with a preponderance of that population being people of Puerto Rican background. Enter Velazquez, who’s got her own election to win in New York City — but she said she’s going to stick around Orlando for a few days to help Murphy. This afternoon the pair were meeting people at the Lechonera El Jibarito Restaurant on Semoran Boulevard. “I am here today. I will be here every single day. I will be knocking on doors. I will be making phone calls, to make sure that they know her record and her desire to do right by Puerto Ricans,” Velazquez said. “This is too important. I am fine. The margin of victory could be defined here by the Hispanic vote, particularly the Puerto Rican vote. And I need for them to understand that this, for them, the presidential election, and who will be their representative, is the most important election.”
THUY LOWE PROMOTES HER HISTORY, CONSERVATIVE VALUES IN NEW VIDEO IN CD 10 RUN via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics – Lowe is marketing her campaign as the sensible conservative alternative to the gridlock and disconnect in Washington D.C. in a new video … The video runs for two minutes and consists of Lowe sitting in front of a blank wall, lending a personal air to the way she delivers the recounting of history: her parents arrived in America in 1975 from Vietnam, and worked hard at multiple jobs while she and her siblings grew up. “We went through an extensive vetting process before being allowed in,” she said. “My parents worked multiple jobs as my siblings and I learned English and assimilated ourselves into the fabric of American society.” After working as a business owner for years, Lowe retired to raise her own children, becoming involved in the public school system as they grew up. It was all of these things, she says in the video, that led to her run for Congress. She says America’s future, regardless of one’s political affiliation, is “facing some pretty serious safety issues.” … “Our physical safety, our personal financial safety, and the protection of our Constitution,” she says. “Things have never been more at risk than they are today.”
7 MIAMI-DADE LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES CAN’T VOTE FOR THEMSELVES via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – When she votes this fall … Anitere Flores might not be able to vote for herself. Because if she votes in her current precinct, the ballot she receives will have neither her name nor her District 39 Florida Senate race on it. It will list the District 40 race instead. The same goes for House District 103 candidate Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich, a Doral Democrat in her first bid for public office. Rather than seeing her own name on a ballot for the first time, she’ll see candidates for House District 116 if she votes in the precinct she’s assigned to now. That’s because Flores and Gonzalez Petkovich — along with five other legislative candidates in Miami-Dade — don’t currently live in and aren’t registered to vote in the district that they’re seeking to represent. The five other candidates are: Carlos Puentes Sr., a Democrat registered to vote in House District 111 and challenging Republican Rep. Jose Oliva in District 110; Sevi Miyar, a Democrat registered in House District 110 and challenging Republican Rep. Bryan Avila in District 111; Daisy Baez, a Democrat registered in House District 112 and running against Republican John Couriel for the open District 114 seat; Dan Horton, a Democrat registered in House District 105 and challenging Republican Rep. Holly Raschein in District 120; Phillip Brutus, a Democrat registered in Senate District 35 and running as a no-party affiliated candidate against Democratic Rep. Daphne Campbell in District 38.
FINAL POLL OF KEY STATE SENATE RACE SHOWS DANA YOUNG HOLDING LEAD OVER DEMOCRATIC OPPONENT via Florida Politics — A new poll by St. Pete Polls, conducted for FloridaPolitics.com, showed 40 percent of Senate District 18 voters are backing Young, compared to 35 percent backing Buesing. The poll found 14 percent of voters said they were backing Joe render, while 3 percent picked Sheldon Upthegrove. Eight percent of voters said they were undecided. The automated poll of 1,087 people was conducted on Nov. 2. It has a margin of error of 3 percent. The poll showed Young had support from 36 percent of independent voters, 65 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of Democrats. Buesing was backed by 33 percent of independent voters, 52 percent of Democrats and 19 percent of Republicans. While Young is maintaining her overall lead, the latest St. Pete Polls survey indicated her supporters need to turnout to make sure she comes out on top come Election Day. The poll found 60 percent of respondents said they already voted. Nearly 39 percent those respondents backed Young, while 38 percent supported Buesing.
SHAWN HARRISON SLAMS LISA MONTELIONE IN NEW TV AD IN HD 63 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — Shawn Harrison is hitting Lisa Montelione hard in the final days of their competitive House District 63 race. The ad begins as an homage of sorts to Montelione’s own television ad released last month, which depicted a commercial film set with a director, cameraman, technical crew — but no candidate. “Seen the Lisa Montelione commercial? You know, the one where she doesn’t show up,” asks the narrator at the beginning of Harrison’s ad, titled, “Where’s Lisa?” “Well, Montelione doesn’t show up as a Tampa City Council woman either,” as the narrator says that Montelione has a 33 percent absent rate on the Council. The HD 63 race is considered to be one of the most competitive of any state legislative race in the Tampa Bay area. The swing district was captured by Harrison in 2010, but he lost it to Democrat Mark Danish in 2012. He then came back to defeat Danish in 2014. Click the image below to watch the ad.
BAL HARBOUR SHOPS SPENDS BIG TO GET FRIENDLY COUNCIL CANDIDATES ELECTED via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald – The biggest spenders in the tiny, wealthy seaside community of Bal Harbour may not be the shoppers going to the village’s high-end mall. It’s the mall itself. The Bal Harbour Shops, who has dropped more than $200,000 to back two candidates who are friendly to the upscale mall’s plans to expand. That’s a big number for a tiny village of 2,800. The current council has not allowed the Shops’ expansion to move forward. On the council of five, a two-vote swing could pave the way for expansion plans to proceed.
BBQ THE GREAT UNIFIER IN A CITY OF NONSTOP POLITICAL ADS via Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times – If only for an hour or two, political detente came to Tampa’s Joe Chillura Courthouse Square … enticed by free barbecue, mac and cheese and thick-cut cream pies. The only catch to a charcoal company’s promotion? Diners had to post a bipartisan political message, as creative or noncommittal as they deemed fit, to a social media site using the hashtag #BipartisanBBQ. “Don’t move to Canada, stick around and enjoy a BBQ,” Josh Robertson, 30, said on Facebook. “Left wing. Right wing. Chicken wing,” wrote Lauren Morgan, 30, borrowing a slogan printed on paper signs handed out to the crowd. Tampa landed the free lunch because it has endured the nation’s highest rate of negative ads in the presidential race, according to Kingsford Charcoal, which cited research by Kantar Media. Since Jan. 1, an average of 55 negative ads have played here each day. Part of the lunch crowd was drawn from nearby offices by the smell of a large smoker, tended by World Champion Pitmaster Chris Lilly of Georgia’s Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q. “There’s way too much politicking, and it’s turning people mean, evil,” said Evie Williams, a legal assistant and “total Democrat.” That’s why Williams has stayed off social media since the election began, and voters began to take sides. “I don’t even want to know what’s on there,” she said. “I want to keep my friends.”
ST. PETE TECHIES CAME TO LUNCH AND VOTE via Anne Lindberg of Florida Politics – The Surf and Turf food truck was the first to arrive at Williams Park. It was soon followed by a trickle, then a flood of mostly millennials from St. Petersburg tech startups. They ate. They chatted and got to know each other. Then they walked down the block to the Supervisor of Elections early voting site. The event was the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce’s “Startup & Vote” event. St. Pete is one of four cities across the U.S. to try the idea, which is to make voting a social affair. The idea appealed to several local startups like Check I’m Here, which provides student engagement software to colleges. Founded in May 2014, the company now has 15 employees and most of them came with CEO and founder Reuben Pressman. Pressman said he liked the idea of Startup & Vote because it was an easy way to give employees a chance to vote. Gary Fustino of Des!gn for Communication, a chamber ambassador, came from Clearwater for the event. Fustino had already voted but thought the concept of getting the tech community together was a worthy idea.
***November marks National Home Care Month, which recognizes more than 68,000 Florida nurses, home care aides, therapists, and social workers who provide cost-effective, high-quality health care in the patient-preferred setting. These caregivers represent more than 2,500 home care agencies that serve 180,000 Floridians at home every day. Last year alone, the Florida home care industry created 109,000 jobs at a $3.92 billion net economic growth to the state. Celebrate the home care industry’s contribution to Florida’s families and economy at HomeCareFLA.org***
WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING – POPULATION GROWTH HELPING STATE ECONOMY RECOVER via John Ceballos of The Ledger – Florida’s unemployment rate and job growth are outpacing their national counterparts, while the U.S. economy continues to recover at a faster clip than the rest of the world. Those were among the topics of conversation at the 13th Annual East Polk Economic Summit. The event took place at Polk State College’s Winter Haven campus and was highlighted by presentations from a pair of speakers. Allen Sukholitsky is a vice president and senior market strategist with Goldman Sachs Asset Management in New York, and his presentation focused on the U.S. economy. Sean Snaith is the director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, and his remarks centered on Central Florida and the state as a whole. “Both presenters did a great job,” said Suzie Moraco, a certified financial planner and associate vice president for Morgan Stanley’s Winter Haven branch, one of the event’s sponsors. The summit was also sponsored by Polk State College, the Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, the Winter Haven Economic Development Council, and Six/Ten LLC in Winter Haven. “I think they were both very reassuring that our national and local economies are on steady footing.”
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT DECISION WILL CAUSE ‘NEW WAVE’ OF FORECLOSURES via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – When a mortgage foreclosure action gets dismissed by a Florida court, it resets the clock on the state’s five-year statute of limitations, the Supreme Court decided … That means the lender can try again to get paid, as long as it’s within the next five-year period and the borrower had started paying again and then stopped. “I think this decision will cause a new wave of foreclosure cases to be filed in the next 12-24 months,” said Jonathan Kline, a Westin attorney who practices primarily in foreclosure defense. “Basically, banks are getting a do-over.” He added the ruling applies to “tens of thousands” of foreclosures in South Florida alone, which was hard-hit by the Great Recession of 2007-09. Florida was ranked No. 1 in the country for completed foreclosures in 2015-16, with 55,000 actions, according to real estate data tracking firm CoreLogic. In 2013, Rick Scott signed into law a measure to speed up the state’s residential mortgage foreclosure process. The idea was to “put (foreclosed) homes back onto the housing market and allow Florida families who have experienced a foreclosure to begin working to repair their credit and finances,” the governor said in a signing letter. The decision, which consolidated three separate cases involving U.S. Bank, involves “standard residential mortgages.”
THE STATE’S LICENSE TO SELL YOUR DRIVER RECORDS via Tina Jensen of Fox 13 Investigates – In the past two years, the state of Florida brought in $150 million from bulk sales of private driver records. Despite the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ repeated claims that the state ‘heavily vets’ any third-party company who wants a pipeline to federally-protected data about Florida’s 15.5 million licensed drivers, a FOX 13 investigation has found the DHSVM’s background checks primarily consist of staffers looking up whether a potential buyer has an active business registration with the state.
FDLE SUPERVISOR CHARGED WITH CHILD SEX CRIMES via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News-Journal – Charles Calvin McMullen was arrested after two 8-year-old males independently stated that McMullen had engaged in sexual activity with them on multiple occasions, the report said. Both children reported being present on occasions when the other was being abused. McMullen denied having any inappropriate contact with the juveniles … McMullen is charged with two counts of sexual assault/battery on a victim under 12 and two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior involving a victim less than 12. He is currently being held in Santa Rosa County Jail on $1.5 million bond. In a written statement, FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said, “I am deeply troubled by these serious allegations, and I know I speak for all members when I say we are shocked and disappointed. We will continue to cooperate with the investigators on this case to quickly provide anything they need from us.”
HURRICANE: MANY HISTORIC BUILDINGS IN ST. AUGUSTINE DAMAGED via Jason Dearden of The Associated Press – Experts with the University of Florida said water flooded all seven of St. Augustine’s federally designated historic districts last month, damaging about half of all the 2,000 properties in those areas. Homes and businesses along the city’s waterfront were overwhelmed despite a $6.7 million seawall completed in 2014. “The damage was significant,” said Morris Hylton, director of University of Florida’s historic preservation program, who spent three days helping federal authorities record the damage. “Many, if not a majority, of the historic properties, in particular private residences, were impacted.” Among the famous buildings inundated during the hurricane was Flagler College’s ornate Spanish Renaissance-style main hall, built in 1888. As much as four feet of water surged through its basement and breezeway, but the hall’s higher floors remained untouched. School president William Abare, who has served at Flagler for 45 years in different roles, had never seen storm surge in St. Augustine like Matthew’s. Blamed for at least 42 deaths in the United States, Matthew raked a large part of the Southeast Atlantic coast last month after killing more than 500 people in Haiti. Abare refused to evacuate, watching as water flowed over the campus in St. Augustine. Local historians long have claimed the city as the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the mainland United States. “It was a scary sight for me as water was coming over our perimeter wall,” said Abare, referring to a 3-foot-high wall. “You couldn’t see the top of the wall.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Clay Barker and Nicole Graganella. Celebrating today is Carlos Cruz.