Ex-Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka weighs in on Florida GOP post

Former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka with Karen Giorno in a picture from Giorno’s website for her campaign for Republican national committeewoman.

The Sebastian Gorka primary is over in the race for Florida’s vacant Republican national committeewoman post.

Gorka, the frequent Fox News guest and former adviser to President Donald Trump, is endorsing West Palm Beach resident and former Trump Florida campaign director Karen Giorno for the committeewoman post.

The committeewoman post, one of three Florida representatives to the Republican National Committee, has been vacant since Trump tapped former Committeewoman Sharon Day of Fort Lauderdale to be ambassador to Costa Rica. Republican Party of Florida officials will choose a committeewoman in November before a January vote by more than 200 GOP activists to fill the remainder of Day’s term through 2020.

Gorka, an outspoken hardliner on Islamic terrorism, left the Trump administration in August, when he declared that “forces that do not support the MAGA promise are – for now – ascendant within the White House” and said he could best help Trump from outside the administration. Others said Gorka was forced out by Chief of Staff John Kelly and others.

Regardless, Gorka is a popular figure with much of Trump’s anti-establishment “Make America Great Again” base. Giorno is stressing her Trump loyalty in her bid for committeewoman.

Gorka’s endorsement statement says Giorno is “the only candidate for Florida National Committeewoman who worked on the campaign to elect Donald Trump the 45th President of the United States and the only one who truly understands that the MAGA agenda is the people’s agenda. Karen as your National Committeewoman puts the Republican Party of Florida in the best position to win majorities and elections in 2018 and beyond. As someone committed to the ultimate success of the President’s MAGA agenda, I support Karen Giorno.”

Other potential candidates for Florida committeewoman include Manatee County GOP Chairwoman Kathleen King, former RPOF Chairwoman Carole Jean Jordan and Brevard County Republican State Committeewoman Cheryl Lankes.

Palm Beach billionaire not ruling out run for governor

Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene hasn’t shut the door on a Democratic bid for governor.

Billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene — ranked 62 spots higher than Palm Beach neighbor Donald Trump on the latest Forbes 400 list — says he’d like to be Florida governor and thinks he’d be effective in the job.

“It would be a blast. I think I could really make a difference,” Democrat Greene said Wednesday of the governorship.

But Greene, who lost a 2010 Democratic primary bid for U.S. Senate, said he has major reservations about running for office and the toll it would take on his family.

He said he’ll make a final decision by the spring.

“If it was just my wife and me, I would do this in a minute,” said Greene, who has three young children.

Greene brought pundits, politicians and business leaders to a “Managing the Disruption” conference on technology and the economy this year in Palm Beach and says he has a better “understanding of where the economy is and where it’s going” than other candidates.

Greene said he’s talked with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham and likely candidate Philip Levine, the Miami Beach mayor who’s also a multimillionaire.

“I think they could both be successful governors,” Greene said. But Greene says he has a better grasp of modern economic affairs.

“We’re heading into treacherous waters. I don’t think that any of these guys really get it,” Greene said.

None of the Democrats running to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott has caught fire with voters or donors.

A recent Florida Chamber of Commerce poll found 44 percent of Florida Democrats undecided on a candidate for governor and 23 percent favoring trial lawyer John Morgan, who hasn’t said whether he’ll run. Graham led among declared Democrats with 16 percent in the chamber poll. In September, declared and potential Republican candidates for governor and their associated committees outraised Democratic candidates and committees by a 5-to-1 margin.

That’s why Greene doesn’t seem pressed to make a final decision on running yet.

“Nobody’s interested in this race now,” Greene said.

 

Gillum puts Trump-Gold Star widow controversy into Florida governor’s race

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum at the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue gathering in Hollywood in June. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum is putting the uproar over President Donald Trump‘s remarks to a Gold Star widow from Miami Lakes into the Florida governor’s race.

Gillum’s statement appears on a page on his campaign website that includes a red “Donate” button.

Tallahassee Mayor Gillum put out a statement this afternoon saying Trump has “disgraced his office.” The statement appears on a page on his campaign website that includes a link to donate to Gillum’s campaign.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson — a Miami Democrat who has endorsed Gillum in the Democratic primary for governor — has blasted Trump’s phone call to Myeshia Johnson, whose husband was one of four Army Special Forces soldiers killed in Niger this month. Wilson says she heard Trump on speakerphone tell the widow that Sgt. La David Johnson “knew what he signed up for … but when it happens it hurts anyway.”

Trump on Twitter said Wilson “fabricated” the account and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this afternoon accused Wilson of “appalling” politicization of the incident.

Gillum’s campaign released this statement from the candidate:

“No decent person can defend what this President did yesterday. He disrespected a fallen soldier, traumatized his widow, and called a Member of Congress who was grieving with the family a liar. This President has shown with each passing day that he intends to govern without a shred of moral dignity or empathy. He has disgraced his office with this latest episode.”

Trump-Gold Star widow controversy: Rep. Lois Frankel offers thoughts

In this Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, frame from video, Myeshia Johnson cries over the casket in Miami of her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. (WPLG via AP)

As President Donald Trump and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, trade accusations over what Trump said to the widow of a South Florida soldier killed in Niger, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, said the focus should be on the “devastating impact” to the soldier’s family.

Trump on Tuesday phoned Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, a Miami Lakes resident who was one of four Army special forces soldiers killed in an ambush.

Wilson told The Miami Herald that Trump told the widow her husband “knew what he signed up for … but when it happens it hurts anyway.” Wilson said she heard the call on speakerphone as she accompanied Myeshia Johnson to Miami International Airport to meet her husband’s flag-draped casket.

Trump on Twitter this morning disputed Wilson’s account.

“Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!” Trump tweeted.

Frankel was asked about the dispute this morning after she appeared at an event highlighting the federal government reimbursing Palm Beach County for $1 million in costs incurred protecting Trump when he visted Palm Beach as president-elect.

“I’m the mother of a son who went to two wars. My thoughts are totally with that family of the fallen soldier…What a devastating impact and that’s really all I can think about,” said Frankel. Her son served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I don’t know what the conversation was. I think it’s pretty obvious that we have a president who maybe is not the most — how do you put it? — is not all that sensitive in his conversations with people. But I think the emphasis has to be on the family and the heartbreak of this family,” Frankel said.

Frankel said she eventually wants more information about the mission the soldiers were on, “But I think right now my thoughts are with the family, that’s it — not the politics.”

Donald Trump falls 92 places on Palm Beach-heavy Forbes 400 list

President Donald Trump at Palm Beach International Airport in February. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

President and part-time Palm Beach resident Donald Trump is the 248th wealthiest person in America, down from 156th place last year, in the latest Forbes 400 rankings.

As Darrell Hofheinz of The Palm Beach Daily News reports, the latest list is thick with Palm Beach residents and part-time Palm Beachers.

Forbes estimates Trump’s net worth slipped from $3.7 billion in 2016 to $3.1 billion this year.

Palm Beach resident and U.S. Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross is noticeably absent from this year’s list, however. Ross ranked 319th with a $2.9 billion net worth last year.

Click here for the entire Forbes 400 list.

Melania Trump urges Americans to donate, volunteer for hurricane relief

The White House has released a public service ad today featuring First Lady and part-time Palm Beach resident Melania Trump urging Americans to donate and volunteer to help victims of hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

First lady Melania Trump in April talking to girls from HomeSafe in Lake Worth. (photo provided by HomeSafe)

President Donald Trump on Monday praised his administration’s efforts in Puerto Rico, pointing out at a news conference that former Clinton Administration FEMA Director James Lee Witt told The Washington Post that the Trump Administration deserves an A+ grade for its response.

But more help is needed, Melania Trump says in the new 30-second PSA.

“The president and I have witnessed firsthand the compassion and commitment of Americans as friends and neighbors and strangers continue to volunteer time and money to help one another following the recent hurricanes,” the first lady says.

“Your help is still needed,” she continues. “Donate to an organization of your choice and volunteer to help your fellow Americans. Visit nvoad.org and ready.gov to learn more.”

In West Boca, Gov. Rick Scott calls for $1 million for Jewish school security

Florida Gov. Rick Scott talks to students at Katz Hillel Day School west of Boca Raton this morning. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott dropped by the Katz Hillel Day School west of Boca Raton this morning to call for increased state spending on security at Jewish schools.

Florida legislators approved $654,000 for security measures for Jewish schools in this year’s budget.

Scott said he’ll ask for $1 million in his 2018-19 budget.

Click here to read more about Scott’s visit to Palm Beach County.

The governor autographs a student’s map of Florida at Katz Hillel Day School. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

How will Reps. Mast, Frankel, Deutch and Hastings spend $2.4 million in campaign cash?

Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation for the 115th Congress, clockwise from top left: Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City; Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach; Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.

The four members of Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation began October with a combined $2.4 million to spend on their 2018 re-election campaigns, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed over the weekend.

The busiest fundraiser — and spender — is freshman Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City. Click here for the details on Mast’s seven-figure fundraising and where his campaign money is going.

• Mast had $921,256 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30.

• Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, has $981,976 in the bank.

• Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, has $290,394 on hand.

• Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, has $252,063.

Donald Trump tells evangelicals what’s on his Christmas list

President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump — who typically spends “that beautiful Christmas season” at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach — made a Yuletide promise and issued a Christmas challenge to Congress today in a speech to the Values Voters Summit in Washington.

“Something I’ve said so much during the last two years, but I’ll say it again as we approach the end of the year.  You know, we’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore.  They don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ because it’s not politically correct.  You go to department stores, and they’ll say, ‘Happy New Year’ and they’ll say other things.  And it will be red, they’ll have it painted, but they don’t say it.

“Well, guess what?  We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump said, according to a White House transcript.

“And as a Christmas gift to all of our hardworking families,” the president continued, “we hope Congress will pass massive tax cuts for the American people.  That includes increasing the child tax credit and expanding it to eliminate the marriage penalty.  Because we know that the American family is the true bedrock of American life.  So true.  This is such an exciting event because we are really working very hard, and hopefully Congress will come through.”

 

Former Trump Florida campaign director, from West Palm Beach, seeks key GOP post

Karen Giorno chats with Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera at the Palm Beach County GOP’s 2016 Lobsterfest in Boca Raton. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

West Palm Beach resident Karen Giorno, the state director for Donald Trump‘s 2016 campaign when he won the Florida GOP primary by carrying 66 of 67 counties, has launched a campaign to become Florida’s Republican National Committeewoman.

The committeewoman is one of three party officials who represent Florida on the Republican National Committee and have a say on party rules and the site of the 2020 GOP convention.

Former Florida Committeewoman Sharon Day of Fort Lauderdale stepped down after President Trump tapped her to be ambassador to Costa Rica. The Republican Party of Florida’s board, which consists of about 35 members, will choose an interim replacement next month. More than 200 RPOF members will then vote in January on a committeewoman to serve the final two years of Day’s term.

At least three other names have circulated as potential candidates for committeewoman: Manatee County GOP Chairwoman Kathleen King, former RPOF Chairwoman Carole Jean Jordan and Brevard County Republican State Committeewoman Cheryl Lankes.

Giorno is a longtime Republican operative with experience going back to an internship in the George H.W. Bush White House. She was director of Trump’s Florida campaign through the March 2016 primary, then continued as the top Florida official while also taking on the role of political director for 11 southeastern states. In a September 2016 shakeup, Giorno moved to a job in Trump Tower in New York overseeing national voter engagement and coalitions; veteran Florida campaign strategist Susie Wiles became Florida director.

A website Giorno has set up for her committeewoman bid features a 2016 quote from Trump calling her “a valuable asset to my team and a consummate professional” and an endorsement from Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett.