New PAC using old Voters Coalition name makes endorsements, draws fire

The old Voters Coalition disbanded in 2013, but a new PAC using its name recently mailed out endorsements.
The old Voters Coalition disbanded in 2013, but a new PAC using its name recently mailed out endorsements.

A new entity using the name “Voters Coalition” — the same name as a respected nonpartisan organization that disbanded in 2013 — has emerged just in time to send out endorsement mailers on the eve of Tuesday’s primary elections.

 

It’s drawing condemnation from some candidates who weren’t endorsed and say using the Voters Coalition name is deceptive.

 

The Palm Beach County Voters Coalition PAC filed its first report with the Palm Beach County Elections Office on Aug. 19. On Friday, it reported that Mary Brandenburg, a former Democratic state House member and former West Palm Beach city commissioner, had given the group a $25,000 contribution.

 

Brandenburg is listed on the group’s website as its treasurer. The chairman is attorney Leonard Feuer.

 

Mary Brandenburg
Mary Brandenburg

“I think the website makes it clear that this is a new organization…Len and I intended to be very transparent,” Brandenburg said this morning.

 

The website says the organization is “carrying on in the tradition of the former Voters Coalition” and that it was formed “to carry on the name of the highly respected Voters Coalition that was disbanded in 2013. The Old is New Again.”

 

Mailers that were sent to voters in the past few days don’t mention that the old Voters Coalition disbanded, though the mailers do list the website of the new entity, so curious voters could go there to see the explanation.

 

“Sadly, unsuspecting candidates and the public think these endorsements are legitimate,” said former state Rep. Kelly Skidmore, whose Democratic primary rival in the state House District 91 race, Emily Slosberg, is endorsed on the new mailers. “We are all being duped by a sham group that has now tarnished the reputation of a revered organization.”

 

State Rep. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, called the Voters Coalition PAC “phony” after his Democratic state Senate primary rival, trial lawyer Michael Steinger, was listed as an endorsee of the PAC. County Commissioner Shelley Vana, who’s running for property appraiser, blasted “fake palm cards or committees” after her opponent, Dorothy Jacks, was endorsed by the new PAC.

 

Brandenburg said she and Feuer decided on the endorsements. But the PAC plans to form a countywide board and organize “community education forums” in the fall.

 

Steinger, Jacks and many of the other candidates endorsed by the new Voters Coalition of Palm Beach County PAC are clients of Cornerstone Solutions, the West Palm Beach consulting shop headed by Rick Asnani.

 

Brandenburg, who hired Cornerstone when she was a candidate, said Asnani is a friend and that her business, Connection Strategies LLC, and Cornerstone occasionally refer business to each other.

 

But Brandenburg said there’s no connection between the PAC and Asnani or Cornerstone.

 

“Rick is not involved with this,” Brandenburg said.

 

Brandenburg dismissed complaints about the new PAC’s endorsements as sour grapes.

 

“Those are people we did not endorse,” she said of Powell, Vana and Skidmore. “If they’re unhappy about that, I’m sorry, but we didn’t endorse them.”

 

 

 

 

Palm Beach County key Jewish vote battleground for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump

Hillary Clinton campaign buttons in Hebrew offered by the National Jewish Democratic Council.
Hillary Clinton campaign buttons in Hebrew offered by the National Jewish Democratic Council.

Florida Jewish voters favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by nearly a 3-to-1 margin in a poll released last week.

 

In a state that President Barack Obama carried by less than 1 percent in 2012, the estimated 5 percent of voters who are Jewish could be a significant factor in who wins Florida’s 29 electoral votes and the White House.

 

Democratic firm GBA Strategies estimates nearly one-third of Florida Jewish voters are in Palm Beach County.
Democratic firm GBA Strategies estimates nearly one-third of Florida Jewish voters are in Palm Beach County.

And Palm Beach County, home to nearly one-third of Florida’s Jewish voters, will be a key battleground.

 

Jewish voters are overwhelmingly Democratic. But Republicans hope that shaving a few points off Obama’s 68 percent Jewish support from 2012 will benefit Trump. That’s why the Republican Jewish Coalition spun Clinton’s 66-to-23 percent lead among Florida Jews as good news.

 

Read more about it in this week’s Politics column.

Although polls show no contest, Murphy, Rubio running hard to primary finish line

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

Polls would suggest that Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republican Marco Rubio are on a glide path toward their parties’ U.S. Senate nominations in Tuesday’s primary.

But the two front-runners are driving hard toward the finish line.

Rubio, seeking a second term, has four appearances planned today in Lee County’s Cape Coral, Lynn Haven in Bay County, Pensacola and Miami. They’re designed to rally supporters and get-out-the-vote in what is certain to prove a low-turnout primary.

Murphy, the Jupiter congressman who has drawn support from the White House and much of the Democratic establishment, has appearances planned in Tampa with incoming state House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz and later, in Orlando, with that city’s mayor, Buddy Dyer.

Murphy’s leading rival is U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, in a field of five Democrats on Tuesday’s ballot. Rubio faces three rivals Tuesday, with the closest competitor Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff, who has spent about $8 million of his own money but remains far back in most polls.

Scott to open week with another Zika virus round table in Palm Beach County

Gov. Scott met earlier this month in Delray Beach with school officials on the Zika virus
Gov. Scott met earlier this month in Delray Beach with school officials on the Zika virus

Gov. Rick Scott travels to Palm Beach County for another round table Monday on the Zika virus, a move prompted by last week’s report of a second local case of the mosquito-borne illness.

Scott is set to meet with community officials, business leaders and tourism representatives at 1:30 p.m. in the Boca Raton Resort and Club’s Mizner Room. Those looking to attend the event are being asked to respond to: alexis.newman@waldofrastoria.com.

Scott has been touring the state, hosting Zika virus events for weeks. The events seem to follow a pattern, where Scott and state health officials provide the latest updates on the spread of Zika and detail the efforts underway to reduce the mosquito population in areas where the cases have been identified.

There are 42 Floridians who have contracted the illness within the state. Cases have been identified in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Pinellas counties. More than 600 cases of residents with non-travel Zika have been reported — with victims having contracted the virus outside Florida.

Scott earlier Monday plans to host a similar discussion in Naples, at the Collier County Health Department.

Donald Trump running mate Mike Pence to campaign in Florida this week

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his family onstage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last month.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his family onstage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last month.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will campaign in Sarasota on Wednesday afternoon.

 

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence at a 2014 Republican Governors Association meeting at the Boca Raton Resort and Club.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence at a 2014 Republican Governors Association meeting at the Boca Raton Resort and Club.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump‘s running mate is scheduled to appear at a 4 p.m. rally at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota a few days after Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton‘s running mate Tim Kaine campaigned in Tallahassee and South Florida.

 

Pence is making three appearances this week in Georgia — a state that hasn’t been carried by a Democrat since 1992, but where polls show a tight race between Trump Clinton.

 

Pence will also appear Tuesday in North Carolina, a state went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 by narrow margins.

About $3 million spent on Irv Slosberg- Jeff Clemens Democratic Senate primary

State Sen. Jeff Clemens (left) and state Rep. Irving Slosberg.
State Sen. Jeff Clemens (left) and state Rep. Irving Slosberg.

State Rep. Irving Slosberg has put nearly $1.9 million of his own money into his Democratic state Senate primary against Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Atlantis, whose campaign and allies have spent about $1 million on the race, according to reports filed Friday night covering activity through Thursday.

 

Slosberg pumped another $770,000 of his own money into his campaign during the last two weeks, bringing his total personal stake in the race to $1.878 million.

 

The Clemens campaign has spent $295,830. The pro-Clemens committee Each Vote Counts has spent $732,695. The pro-Clemens Committee for a Prosperous Florida has spent another $272,140 — although $81,500 of that was contributed to Each Vote Counts. A small portion of the committee money could also have been spent on other races.

 

The Florida Democratic Party has also spent money to help Clemens, including buying TV advertising, but that figure couldn’t immediately be determined.

 

 

Kaine links Donald Trump values to Ku Klux Klan values at FAMU stop

Kaine goes full Rattler at FAMU appearance
Kaine goes full Rattler at FAMU appearance

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine attempted the two-fingered thrust of a “Rattler Strike” while attending a voter-registration rally Friday at Florida A&M University, part of a two-day swing through the nation’s biggest presidential battleground state.

Wearing a green FAMU cap, Kaine threw out the school’s signature gesture. Then he urged students to register – and get family and friends to do the same before Florida’s Oct. 11 deadline for voting in the November election.

But Kaine also linked Republican presidential contender Donald Trump to racism at Florida’s only public, historically black university — picking up a theme aired this week by Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“He has supporters like David Duke, connected with the Ku Klux Klan, who are going around and saying Donald Trump is their candidate, because Donald Trump is pushing their values,” Kaine said.

“Ku Klux Klan values, David Duke values, Donald Trump values are not American values,” Kaine added. “They’re not our values.”

New polls, familiar story: Florida a toss-up in race for White House

Trump, Clinton
Trump, Clinton

New Florida polls released Friday are basically showing the same old results: The Sunshine State is a toss-up in the presidential contest.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research gives Democrat Hillary Clinton a 44 percent to 42 percent lead over Republican Donald Trump. But that gap is well within the survey’s 4 percent margin-of-error.

An online survey from icitizen gives Clinton a 5 percentage point edge, in a survey with a 4 percent margin-of-error.

Mason-Dixon adds that its findings underscore another hardy perennial in Florida politics. The Interstate-4 corridor will prove decisive. And right now, the two leading contenders split the region.

“The battleground once again is in the I-4 corridor. The race in that area is essentially tied, with Clinton leading 44%-40% in the Tampa Bay region and Trump leading 46%-42% in Central Florida,” according to Mason-Dixon’s analysis.

Mason-Dixon surveyed 625 registered Florida voters by phone Monday through Wednesday. Icitizen relied on 600 registered Florida voters who went online from Aug. 18-24.

Negativity pervades Michael Steinger-Bobby Powell Democratic Senate primary

Democratic state Senate rivals Michael Steinger, left, and state Rep. Bobby Powell.
Democratic state Senate rivals Michael Steinger, left, and state Rep. Bobby Powell.

You’d think a guy whose father is in federal prison for fleecing investors might avoid bringing up parental misdeeds in a political campaign.

 

But trial lawyer and Democratic state Senate District 30 candidate Michael Steinger — whose father Joel Steinger was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for masterminding an $800 million insurance scam —  has been hammering his primary foe, state Rep. Bobby Powell, for Powell’s father’s 2014 arrest for aggravated battery and firing a gun in a home he and his son have shared.

 

It’s just part of the negativity between the rival Democrats as Tuesday’s primary approaches in the north-county district.

 

Click here to read Palm Beach Post reporter Bill DiPaolo’s overview of one of Florida’s nastiest primaries.

With storm coming, Scott and elections officials urge early voting

State officials encourage early voting, with bad weather coming.
State officials encourage early voting, with bad weather coming.

With rain, wind and possible flooding threatening Florida by early next week, Gov. Rick Scott and state elections officials joined the chorus of local supervisors urging voters to take advantage of early voting.

The state’s primary elections are Tuesday. And Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner said voters would be wise to vote ahead of that date.

The National Hurricane Center expects the weather to hold until early Sunday. But after that, it’s uncertain what kind of tropical system could be over the Sunshine State.

“While it is too premature to determine if voters will be impacted by adverse weather conditions, I encourage all Florida voters who have not voted by mail to get ahead of any possible weather disturbances by voting early,” Detzner said. “All 67 Florida counties are offering early voting through Saturday, August 27.”

Palm Beach County is among 10 counties also allowing voting on Sunday.

Read all The Post’s Aug. 30 election coverage at myPalmBeachPost.com/2016primary

Get the Aug. 30 candidates’ background and views in their own words in the Know Your Candidates guide, myPalmBeachPost.com/kycp2016.