County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett says the party has booked Mar-a-Lago for March 16 for its annual Lincoln Day fundraising dinner.
The party paid Mar-a-Lago about $150,000 for this year’s dinner, which drew about 700 people and raised about $300,000 in March. Trump — who keynoted the 2016 dinner at his club and also showed up in 2014 to introduce “special guy” Ted Cruz — did not attend this year’s dinner. First lady Melania Trump made a brief appearance at a VIP reception, however.
“It’s just a beautiful venue,” Barnett said of Trump’s winter White House. “Everybody loves it. We’ve had great attendance going back to 2013 just because it’s Donald Trump’s house. Our goal was to turn Lincoln Day into an attraction by itself regardless of who the speaker is.”
Wasserman Schultz sent a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, and Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, asking for the legislature to accelerate the already-in-the-works replacement of the statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, which is one of two statues representing Florida in the U.S. Capitol.
Scott signed a 2016 bill calling for the replacement of the Confederate statue. But legislators haven’t settled on a new Florida figure to honor. A committee has recommended three finalists: Educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune; Everglades preservation icon Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Publix founder George Jenkins.
Wasserman Schultz says legislators can convene a special session and pick a replacement when they gather in Tallahassee for committee hearings in September. When she initially raised the matter, a Scott spokesman said no special session is warranted and the issue can be brought up when the legislature meets in its regular session in January. Corcoran accused Wasserman Schultz of “grandstanding.”
Wasserman Schultz’s letter has been signed by all 11 Democratic members of Florida’s U.S. House delegation.
Clinton’s last Florida appearance during the 2016 campaign was a rain-shortened affair in Broward County the weekend before the election. Florida, which Barack Obama carried by 0.9 points in 2012, was won by Republican Donald Trump by 1.2 points in 2016 — one of several formerly blue states that went red and allowed Trump to win an Electoral College majority and the presidency.
Clinton’s book, scheduled for release Sept. 12, is being promoted as an unguarded account of the 2016 campaign.
“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down,” Clinton says in an excerpt from the book’s introduction that is splashed prominently on the website promoting the book.
“Our prayers go out to everyone there” in Texas, said Scott, who has deployed Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers and equipment to Texas.
FWC said Tuesday that it has helped rescue 200 people from rising waters after sending more than 125 officers, 40 boats, 17 high-water vehicles, two mobile command centers and eight shallow draft vessels to Texas.
Scott said he spoke Monday with Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon about Florida’s readiness for massive rainfall. Between mid-Friday and mid-Monday, some areas around Houston were deluged with more than 40 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.
“If we had 40 inches of rain, in let’s say the Palm Beach-to-Miami area, are we ready?” Scott said he asked Koon. “He’s assured me that we work our plans all the time, we do drills every year and we’re ready. And I hope it never happens here.”
Scott this year pushed for $50 million in the state budget to “jumpstart” a $930 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to upgrade the earthen dike around Lake Okeechobee by 2025. Scott wants the project complete by 2022 and says he hopes the state will get reimbursed by the federal government for its expenditures.
Scott said the Texas flooding “just shows you the importance of it. We have thousands of people that live south of the dike. Unfortunately under Barack Obama we didn’t get the money to really fix the dike. President Trump has committed that he’s going to be a partner to get it done.”
WEST PALM BEACH — Before he was a two-term Florida governor and three-term U.S. Senator, Bob Graham was a state legislator unknown to 97 percent of the state’s voters and ready to abandon his gubernatorial ambitions.
A year before the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary in which his daughter, Gwen Graham, is a candidate, Bob Graham recalled his own dismal prospects at a similar juncture 40 years ago.
“I almost dropped out of running for governor in August of 1977, the same relative position that we are today, because I had just gotten back a poll which indicated not that I had 3 percent potential vote but I had 3 percent of people of Florida who knew who my name was,” Graham said Monday before a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch where Gwen Graham appeared with fellow Democratic candidates Andrew Gillum and Chris King.
Despite the bleak August 1977 poll, Bob Graham decided to stick it out. A year later, in the seven-candidate 1978 Democratic primary for governor, Graham finished second with 25.2 percent. First-place finisher Robert Shevin got 35.2 percent. Because Shevin didn’t get a majority of the vote, Florida law at the time required a runoff between the top two finishers. Graham beat Shevin in the runoff by 7 points, then went on to an easy general election victory over Republican Jack Eckerd.
Graham was re-elected governor in 1982, then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, 1992 and 1998.
Graham was asked why he decided against dropping out in 1977.
“For one thing, I felt very passionately about the reasons I was running. Much like Gwen today, I felt like education needed to get more attention,” Graham said.
An expected 2018 Senate race between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott is a virtual tie, according to a new Florida Atlantic University poll, which also finds wide-open Republican and Democratic primary races for governor and mixed views on President Donald Trump‘s “both sides” remarks about Charlottesville.
FAU’s poll of 800 registered Florida voters, conducted last Thursday through Saturday, shows three-term incumbent Sen. Nelson getting 42 percent and term-limited Gov. Scott getting 40 percent in a hypothetical Senate race. That’s a virtual tie considering the poll’s 4 percent margin of error.
In the race to replace Scott as governor, 53 percent of Republican voters say they’re undecided on a nominee a year before the primary. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is the leading GOP candidate with 27 percent, while recently declared state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, gets 2 percent. Two potential candidates — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast — get 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
The Democratic gubernatorial race is also very much up for grabs, with a 47 percent plurality saying they are undecided and trial lawyer John Morgan — who hasn’t said whether he’ll run — leading the field with 19 percent. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham gets 14 percent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum 9 percent, undeclared Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine 8 percent and Winter Park businessman Chris King 4 percent.
Part-time Palm Beach resident Trump gets a 37 percent job approval rating in the FAU poll, with 47 percent disapproving. Nationally, the RealClearPolitics.com average of polls shows Trump with a 38.5 percent approval score and 55.6 disapproval rating.
Asked about Trump’s declaration that “both sides” bore blame for the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, 44 percent of Floridians disagreed and 42 percent agreed, with 14 percent undecided.
U.S. Rep. and potential 2018 Republican governor candidate Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, wants to restrict special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation of President Donald Trump.
With Mueller looking into possible links between Russia and the Trump 2016 presidential campaign, DeSantis filed an amendment to a House spending measure that would cut off financing for Mueller’s investigation after six months.
The DeSantis amendment would also bar Mueller and his team from probing “matters occurring before June 2015,” which is when Trump launched his presidential campaign.
“Congress should use its spending power to clarify the scope and limit the duration of this investigation,” DeSantis said, according to Politico. DeSantis said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “has said that the DOJ doesn’t conduct fishing expeditions; the corollary to this admonition should be that Congress will not fund a fishing expedition.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has spoken against interfering in Mueller’s investigation, so it’s not clear if DeSantis’ amendment will get a hearing or vote.
DeSantis, a favorite of national conservative groups, has said he’ll decide in the fall whether to enter the GOP race for governor, which already includes Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R- Land-O’Lakes, is also considering a GOP run.
In only their second joint appearance, Democratic candidates Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham and Chris King steered clear of major policy conflicts but highlighted biographical differences that each said would make him or her the most electable candidate in a state where Democrats haven’t won a governor’s race since 1994.
The three fielded questions from Michael Williams of WPTV Channel 5, then from members of the audience of more than 600.
A student from the Benjamin School asked about Confederate monuments, which have drawn renewed attention since a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. this month and President Donald Trump‘s response that “many sides” were to blame for the violence.
“It’s time and it’s right to take down our Confederate monuments across the state of Florida. All of them,” said King, a Winter Park businessman who said his private sector experience and outsider status are what Democrats need to end their gubernatorial losing streak.
Tallahassee Mayor Gillum, trying to become the first black governor in Florida history, joked that “you can probably guess” his position on Confederate monuments.
“I’m totally interested in the retaining of history because it’s important that we not repeat it. But can we put these monuments in places where you can actually put them in context and not in celebrated, exalted parts of our society?” Gillum said.
Former U.S. Rep. Graham agreed that “we need to move the Confederate monuments to places that reflect history or in our textbooks.”
She added: “Shame on Donald Trump from fueling hatred, for placing KKK, Naziism and white supremacy on an even plane with those that were protecting and talking about their value systems, which are the right value systems for this country.”
After the forum, all three candidates were asked what they’d do as governor if a local community insisted on keeping a Confederate statue or monument in a public place. Check out their responses later today at MyPalmBeachPost.com