GOP’s Brian Mast has $1.5 million to defend congressional seat; how that compares to predecessors

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City.. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

With two Democrats and possibly a Republican primary challenger eyeing his Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional seat, freshman U.S.  Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, raised $887,637 during the first three months of 2018 and began April with $1.5 million in cash on hand — a solid figure but not as much as some past District 18 candidates at similar phases of their campaigns.

In 2014, the last time an incumbent defended the District 18 seat, Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy ended the first quarter with $2.2 million in the bank. He went on to easily win re-election over Republican Carl Domino.

In 2012, shortly after District 18 was created by the decennial redistricting, Republican Rep. Allen West had $3.3 million in cash on hand at the end of the first quarter and Democratic challenger Murphy — who went on to win the seat that November — had $1 million.

For 2018, Democrats Lauren Baer and Pam Keith have opened District 18 campaigns. And Gold Star mother Karen Vaughn said last week she’s considering a GOP primary challenge to Mast. Vaughn is expected to announce her decision this week.

Democrat Baer announced last week that she had raised more than $450,000 during the first quarter. She didn’t announce a cash-on-hand figure.

Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports for the first quarter aren’t due until Sunday, but candidates often release select figures ahead of time.

A return to Congress for Allen West?

Former U.S. Rep. Allen West (left) with a cardboard likeness of himself at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West, the fiery conservative who represented a Palm Beach-Broward congressional district for a single term from 2011 to 2013, is getting some mention as a potential 2018 U.S. House candidate.

West now lives in Texas, where his name has percolated in speculation about candidates to replace U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Tex., who announced this week he won’t seek re-election to a Dallas-area district.


“I didn’t move here to run for political office, but that’s some interesting news you just told me,” West told The Texas Tribune when one of its reporters informed him of Hensarling’s retirement.

West couldn’t immediately be reached for comment this morning.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. West was elected in 2010, knocking off Democratic incumbent Ron Klein during the tea party tsunami that year. In 2012, when his district was redrawn with a decided Democratic advantage, West switched to a more GOP-friendly Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 but was defeated by Democrat Patrick Murphy.


Donald Trump, Rick Scott, Allen West speak to NRA Friday in Atlanta

President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former U.S. Rep. Allen West will speak at Friday’s NRA convention in Atlanta.

The National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Atlanta this weekend will feature a Friday afternoon speech by President Donald Trump — the first sitting president to address the NRA since Ronald Reagan.

Florida will be well-represented at the gathering, which the NRA says will draw 80,000 people and more than 800 exhibitors.
In addition to part-time Palm Beacher Trump, the Friday speaker lineup includes Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former U.S. Rep. Allen West, who represented a Palm Beach-Broward congressional district from 2011 to 2013.



Former U.S. Rep. Allen West visits Trump Tower, talks with Mike Pence

Former U.S. Rep. Allen West at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Former U.S. Rep. Allen West at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference.

Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, a firebrand conservative who represented a portion of Palm Beach County from 2011 to 2013, visited Trump Tower in New York today and met with Vice President-elect Mike Pence about possibly serving in President-elect Donald Trump‘s administration.


According to a pool report, retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. West told reporters he met with Pence and with Trump’s incoming national security adviser and deputy national security adviser — Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn and K.T. McFarland.


West, Flynn and McFarland emerged from an elevator about 1:50 p.m., according to the report by Julie Davis of The New York Times.


“We talked about some national security issues, and you know how maybe I can continue to serve my country,” said West, who lost a 2012 re-election bid and is now executive director of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative think tank based in Texas.


Asked if any particular job in the Trump administration was offered or discussed, West said: “Nothing was offered. I mean they know my reputation very well. I’m just a simple soldier and I’m the third of four generations that served this country going back to my father in World War II, and we still have a relative of ours that is continuing to serve in the Army now.”


West declined to offer an opinion on potential candidates for secretary of State.


“He can choose whoever he wants for secretary of State. I’m just considering how I can best serve this country and through this administration,” West said.


West was elected during the tea party wave of 2010 to a Palm Beach-Broward congressional seat after unseating Democratic Rep. Ron Klein. When the 2012 redistricting gave West’s district a Democratic tilt, West ran in a more GOP-friendly Palm Beach-Treasure Coast district but was defeated by Democrat Patrick Murphy.



Adam Putnam on Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Hillary Clinton, 2018 governor’s race

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam chats with Florida Republican convention delegates at a breakfast this morning.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam chats with Florida Republican convention delegates at a breakfast this morning.

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who will shock the political world if he doesn’t run for governor in 2018, didn’t have much to say about Donald Trump but praised running mate Mike Pence and blasted Hillary Clinton in a chat with reporters this morning.


Putnam’s Florida Grown political committee, which has about $3.7 million in the bank for a potential gubernatorial bid, sponsored a breakfast for Florida Republican National Convention delegates that featured Ben Carson, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and former U.S. Rep. Allen West.


“When you decide to run for governor, I’ll be right there with you,” West told Putnam.


Putnam was coy about his political plans.


“We’re having a wonderful time as commissioner of agriculture and focused on one election at a time. So we’ll be evaluating everything after the November election,” Putnam told reporters.


Putnam endorsed Jeb Bush‘s presidential bid. Trump, he said, “wasn’t my first or second choice, but he won fair and square.”


Said Putnam: “I’m voting for Donald Trump…This is a choice. Ballots aren’t open-ended questions. This is a choice so I think it’s important for us to recognize that.”


When Trump delivers his acceptance speech Thursday, Putnam said, “I hope to hear from Donald Trump a vision for how he can bring America together and keep America safe. This is an anxious time that we’re living in…The anxiety that is hovering over the electorate is powerful and people are looking for a leader who can relieve that anxiety by defeating these threats to America.”


Putnam called Pence an “outstanding” choice for vice president.


Asked to compare Pence to Trump, Putnam said: “He’d be about 180 degrees different. Mike Pence is a level, steady, consistent guy who is a well-read, conservative rooted in sort of the founding philosophical documents of conservatism. While he is a former Democrat, he was a Democrat at one point in his life, it was studying Ronald Reagan and studying the premises of conservatism that brought him into our party.”


Putnam cited Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state as a reason not to vote for her.


“I’m just very, very concerned about an individual who’s been in the public eye as long as Hillary Clinton has willfully, wantonly setting up a server  in her spare bathroom to circumvent not only the press but the public and the kind of recklessness  in her behavior that that reveals.”








Murphy goes to war….with Miami’s Channel 4

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

Jupiter Democrat Patrick Murphy is borrowing a page from a playbook more commonly used by Republican candidates.

It’s titled, “Bash the Media.”

Murphy is at war with Miami’s Channel-4, the CBS station, over a six-minute report called “The Making of Patrick Murphy,” that challenges his self-portrayal an an experienced certified public accountant and business owner. The report concludes that Murphy sometimes exaggerated his experience and in other cases, made misleading or false claims.

At least some of the issues were first raised during his 2012 campaign in which he unseated Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West. Now, Murphy and fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando are the leading Democrats seeking their party’s nomination to the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Marco Rubio, who announced Wednesday, the same day the TV report aired, that he is seeking re-election.

Murphy has pushed back — hard.

His campaign issued a 10-part “setting the record straight,” challenging a host of allegations and portrayals in the report. His rivals, meanwhile, have seized on some of the claims.

Part 2 is slated to air tonight on 4.