Democrats inject Donald Trump into two Florida races

Democrats are running TV ads in St. Petersburg and Miami linking Republicans to President Donald Trump.

Democrats who hoped nationally watched special congressional elections in Kansas, Montana and Georgia would deliver rebukes of President Donald Trump came away disappointed.

Now two races in Florida — a nonpartisan mayoral election in St. Petersburg and a special election for a state Senate seat in Miami — have revived Democratic hopes that Trump and his slumping approval ratings will be an albatross for Republican candidates.

In St. Petersburg, where polling shows former Mayor Rick Baker leading current Mayor Rick Kriseman, the Florida Democratic Party this week began airing TV spots that put Baker, who is a Republican, on an “extreme team” with Trump, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The same ads link Kriseman, a Democrat, to former President Barack Obama, former VP Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg.

Seven mayoral candidates are on the Aug. 29 St. Petersburg ballot. If no candidate gets a majority, the top two finishers square off on Nov. 7.

Democrats are also playing the Trump card ahead of a Sept. 26 special election in Miami to fill the Senate District 40 seat of former Republican Sen. Frank Artiles, who resigned in April. The special election pits Democrat Annette Taddeo against Republican state Rep. Jose Felix “Pepi” Diaz, who was once a contestant on Trump’s The Apprentice.

Republican Artiles won the district by 10 points in November and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio edged Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy in the district, but Democrats have a slight registration edge and Democrat Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 16 points.

Democrats launched an ad in English and Spanish this week that shows a selfie of Diaz and Trump and says the Republican “supports Trump’s every move.”

State Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Atlantis, in line to become Senate Democratic leader next year, says there are “a lot of other issues” besides Trump in District 40, but Diaz presents a special anti-Trump opportunity.

“If you were asking for the Democrats to draw up a candidate that had links to Trump you couldn’t do any better than someone who actually appeared as a contestant on The Apprentice. He was also an early Trump endorser. So Pepi Diaz is going to have to live with Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, his anti-health care policies, and those aren’t particularly popular in Miami,” Clemens said.

Biden to Florida Dems: Key voters ‘don’t think we understand them’

Former Vice President Joe Biden poses for a picture before speaking to Florida Democrats on Saturday night in Hollywood.

HOLLYWOOD — Former Vice President Joe Biden says Democrats can rebound from their stinging November loss to Donald Trump if they start talking to “frightened” voters and the middle class again and treat opponents with “dignity.”

Biden, who hasn’t ruled out a 2020 run for president, delivered  50-minute speech to 1,300 Democratic activists on Saturday night at the Florida Democratic Party’s annual Leadership Blue fundraising dinner at the Diplomat Beach Resort. It was vintage Biden — shouting at times, stage-whispering at others, digressing into Senate cloakroom tales from the 1970s and invoking his childhood home of Scranton, Pa., and his father’s advice.

Biden gave a plug for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson’s 2018 re-election bid and also gave a shout-out to state Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Boynton Beach.

He didn’t mention Trump by name, but noted that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton got 3 million more votes nationwide than “the other guy.” Trump won more electoral votes by edging Clinton in Florida and other states that President Barack Obama had carried before.

“There’s that slice of  people we had — Barack  and I had, Democrats have always  had– that don’t think we understand them. It’s not a lot, but it’s the difference in the election. We need to let them know we understand their fears, concerns. And that we have some real answers,” Biden said.

“We have to make it clear what we stand for. We have to refocus our attention on how to unite America and the values for which we stand,” said Biden.

“We can’t get bogged down — I hope don’t offend anybody here — in this phony debate going on in the Democratic Party. The Hobson’s choice we have been given is do we become less progressive and focus on working folk, or forget about working folk and become more progressive. There is no need to choose. They are not inconsistent.”

Biden offered a harsh analysis of the way Trump won in 2016.

“This past election cycle that we just went through churned up some of the ugliest realities that persist in our country. Civilized discourse and real debate gave way to the coarsest rhetoric, stroking some of the darkest emotions in this nation,” Biden said.

“I thought we had passed the days when it was acceptable for  a politician to bestow legitimacy on hate speech and fringe ideologies,” said Biden. But, he said, “Notwithstanding the base appeal that was made, there are a lot of people out there who are both afraid and were susceptible to this negative appeal.”

But Biden said Democrats need to treat the voters they lost with respect.

“We have to treat the opposition with more dignity,” Biden said.

He predicted things will turn around for Democrats.

“I assure you, that the state of the nation we are in today will not be sustained by the American people…We are better than this,” Biden said.

“We have to pick our heads up and start thinking big again,” he said. “The nation is waiting for the Democratic Party to reassert itself.”

 

 

 

 

Florida Dems speaker lineup: Biden, Nelson, BLM — who’s missing?

The Florida Democratic Party holds its annual fundraising dinner in the district of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but she’s not on the list of speakers.

The Florida Democratic Party has released its speaker lineup for Saturday’s Leadership Blue fundraising dinner in Hollywood.

As previously announced, former Vice President Joe Biden will headline the event at the Diplomat Beach Resort, which the party says has already raised $850,000.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will speak at the Florida Democratic Party’s annual fundraising dinner on Saturday in Hollywood.

Sen. Bill Nelson — the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Florida and a prime GOP target next year — will also speak. Three announced Democratic candidates for governor — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King — will appear in a panel discussion. There will also be a “Resistence Panel” moderated by Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson.

More than two dozen names appear on the list of speakers and panelists released Wednesday by the state party.

Not among them: Hometown U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman whose House district includes the Diplomat Beach Resort.

Many in the party’s progressive wing accused Wasserman Schultz of favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential nominating contest before Wasserman Schultz stepped down as chairwoman at last summer’s Democratic National Convention. Clinton recently complained that the DNC under Wasserman Schultz’s leadership “was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong.”

Leslie Wimes of Boynton Beach, the president of the Democratic African-American Women’s Caucus, wrote in a Sunshine State News column  on Tuesday that the “toxic” Wasserman Schultz was scheduled to speak at Saturday’s event and that “putting the most divisive figure in recent Florida Democratic political history on stage at its biggest fundraising event will be a big mistake.”

Tim Canova, who challenged Wasserman Schultz in a 2016 primary and announced Thursday he’s challenging her again in 2018, told his Facebook followers that “FDP leadership” proposed having Wasserman Schultz speak at the gala but backed down.

Wasserman Schultz’s office didn’t return calls requesting comment. Her spokesman David Damron told The Miami Herald Tuesday that Wasserman Schultz wasn’t speaking at the event.

The party wouldn’t comment on the Wimes or Canova claims except to say that the roster released Wednesday is the only official list of speakers.

Here’s the full list released by the party:

Our Voice, Our Issues Panel, 11:00-12:30 pm

Moderator: Representative Cynthia Stafford

Panelists: State Senator Oscar Braynon

                 State Represenative Carlos Guillermo Smith

                 Anna Eskamani, Planned Parenthood 

                 Tom Conboy, South Florida Engineering and Consulting LLC 

      Mary Green, President of the Brevard Democratic Disability Caucus

                 Ghazala Salam, American Muslim Democratic Caucus  

 

The Resistance Panel, 1:00-2:30 pm

Moderator: DeRay McKesson, Black Lives Matter; Pod Save the People, This is the Movement 

Panelists: Dominik Whitehead, AFSCME and Lead Organizer on Betsy Devos HBCU protests

                 Ida Eskamani, Organize Florida

                 Charo Valero, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health 

                 Maria Rodriguez, Florida Immigrant Coalition

                 Carrie Feit, Women’s March of Florida 

                 Karla Hernandez Mats, United Teachers of Dade 

 

Gubernatorial Panel, hosted by the Progressive Caucus of Florida, 3:00-4:30 pm

Moderator: Keith Fitzgerald, former State Representative

Panelists: Mayor Andrew Gillum

                 Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham

                 Chris King

Leadership Blue Gala, 7:00-9:00 pm

Speakers: Former Vice President Joe Biden

                 U.S. Senator Bill Nelson

                 DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake

                 State Senator Oscar Braynon

                 State Senator Jeff Clemens

 State Representative Janet Cruz 

                 State Representative Kionne McGhee

                 State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith

                 Mayor Wayne Messam

                 Commissioner David Arreola​

                 Ana Eskamani                 

                 Ida Eskamani​

                 FDP Chair Stephen Bittel

                 FDP President Sally Boynton Brown

South Florida celeb showdown? Trump vs. ‘The Rock’ in new 2020 poll

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson last year during filming in Boca Raton of the “Baywatch” movie(Getty Images)

President Donald Trump trails Democrats Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken and Cory Booker in hypothetical 2020 presidential matchups, according to a new survey by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

PPP also asked its national sample of 692 registered voters about actor, wrestler and former University of Miami football player Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who recently told GQ “it’s a real possibility” he’ll run for president.

Johnson is viewed favorably by 36 percent of voters and unfavorably by 13 percent.

CANES WATCH: Could The Rock be president?

Trump gets a favorable job approval rating from 40 percent and an unfavorable grade from 54 percent.

In a hypothetical race against Trump, Johnson gets 42 percent to 37 percent for the incumbent president, PPP found. Johnson’s support includes 15 percent of those who voted for Trump in 2016.

The poll, conducted Friday through Sunday, has a 3.7 percent margin of error.

 

 

2020 watch: Florida Democrats book Joe Biden for June fundraiser

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who passed up a 2016 run for president, has been drawing 2020 speculation by appearing in New Hampshire and, now, Florida.

Crank up the 2020 speculation: Former Vice President Joe Biden will be the keynote speaker for the Florida Democratic Party’s biggest annual fundraising dinner in June, the party announced this morning.

 

“Guys, I’m not running,” Biden declared over the weekend — a present-tense formulation that was made in New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state.

 

Biden, who’ll be nearly 78 on election day of 2020, flirted with a 2016 run for president but opted against it in 2015. In hindsight, Biden might have done a better job of connecting with working-class Rust Belt voters than Hillary Clinton, who lost the previously blue states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin to Donald Trump.

 

Trump has already opened a 2020 campaign and is airing new TV ads today.

 

Biden will speak at the Florida Democratic Party’s “Leadership Blue” gala — formerly the Jefferson-Jackson dinner — at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood on June 17.

 

“We are thrilled to announce the former Vice President as our keynote speaker. Joe Biden has spent his life in public service and has fought tirelessly for the Democratic belief that all Americans deserve an equal shot in our economy, not just those at the top. We are excited to welcome him back to Florida for our Leadership Blue Gala,” said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel.

 

 

 

 

Donald Trump Electoral College win certified; Florida challenge fails

Donald Trump at a rally at the South Florida Fairgrounds in October.
Donald Trump at a rally at the South Florida Fairgrounds in October.

Over the objections of some House Democrats and shouts from a few protesters in the gallery, part-time Palm Beach resident Donald Trump this afternoon was certified by a joint session of Congress as the electoral vote victor in the 2016 presidential election.

 

Vice President Joe Biden, presiding over the joint session of Congress, repeatedly rejected Democratic objections to certifying the Electoral College results. (CSPAN video)
Vice President Joe Biden, presiding over the joint session of Congress, repeatedly rejected Democratic objections to certifying the Electoral College results. (CSPAN video)

One objection — raised by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and quickly ruled out of order by Vice President Joe Biden, who presided over the meeting — contended that 10 of Florida’s 29 electoral votes for Trump should be disallowed because the presidential electors held other offices in the state.

 

The Florida constitution bars a person from holding more than one office at a time. It does not define “office” or suggest that being a presidential elector qualifies as an office. Florida’s 29 Republican electors included Attorney General Pam Bondi, state Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, six other state legislators, a Jackson County commissioner and a member of the state transportation commission.

 

Members of Congress can object to the certification of electoral votes, but an objection must be signed by a member of the House and the Senate. No senators signed on to the House members’ objections, so Biden repeatedly rejected efforts by House Democrats to object.

 

“It is over,” Biden said at one point, drawing applause and laughter from Republican lawmakers.

 

Anti-Donald Trump demonstrators tried and failed in December to persuade Florida electors to vote against Trump.
Anti-Donald Trump demonstrators tried and failed in December to persuade Florida electors to vote against Trump.

With 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, Republican Trump got 304 votes to 227 for Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, got 305 electoral votes for vice president.

 

Electoral votes were cast Dec. 19 in state capitals across the U.S., with Trump foes failing in their efforts then to pressure Republican electors to switch their votes away from the Republican nominee.

 

The Trump-Pence ticket won states with a total of 306 electoral votes, but two Texas electors defected, with one casting a vote for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and one voting for former Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

 

Clinton won states with 232 electoral votes, but five Democratic electors defected. Rogue Democrats cast three votes for Colin Powell and one apiece for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Yankton Sioux elder Faith Spotted Eagle.

 

 

 

 

Donald Trump ‘a very good golfer, very serious’ says pol who played with him

President-elect Donald Trump playing golf in 2011 at his Trump International Golf Club. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
President-elect Donald Trump playing golf in 2011 at his Trump International Golf Club. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

President-elect Donald Trump, who is golfing today with Tiger Woods at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, is one of the best politician-golfers in Washington, according to a recent Golf Digest ranking.

 

Tiger Woods, who recently posted this shirtless Santa picture on his Twitter account, is on the links with Trump today.
Tiger Woods, who recently posted this shirtless Santa picture on his Twitter account, is on the links with Trump today.

Trump, Woods and other not-yet-revealed players were on the 10th hole at around 11 a.m., according to a pool report.

 

Trump and his reported 2.8 handicap ranked 12th in the Golf Digest compilation — 101 places ahead of President Barack Obama, who has a 13 handicap. Vice President Joe Biden ranks 68th with a 10 handicap while Vice President-elect Mike Pence ranks 127th with a handicap of 15.

 

Former President Bill Clinton is a 16-handicap golfer who is ranked 129th in the Golf Digest politician list.

 

Former Republican state Rep. and two-time U.S. congressional candidate Carl Domino, a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, said he golfed with Trump, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and a fourth player at Trump International about three years ago.

 

Rand Paul finished well behind Trump on the golf course three years ago and in the GOP presidential race this year.
Rand Paul finished well behind Trump on the golf course three years ago and in the GOP presidential race this year.

They talked about a potential Trump 2014 run for governor of New York, recalled Domino.

 

In a foreshadowing of the 2016 presidential race, Domino said Trump finished well ahead of Paul (who dropped his White House bid after the Iowa caucuses) and the others in the group.

 

“No exaggeration, he shot even par on the round,” said Domino, who said Trump would have finished two or three strokes under par if he hadn’t come up short on a few putts. “He was much better than the rest of us…He’s a very good golfer, very serious about it.”

 

Crunch time in Florida: Hillary, Trump, Pence, Biden, Obama expected this week

Of course the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns are paying attention to crucial Florida this week.
Of course the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns are paying attention to crucial Florida this week.

Eight days of campaigning remain before the Nov. 8 election and Florida, which appears to be up for grabs in recent polls, can expect some heavy candidate and surrogate traffic

 

Schedules are fluid and events often get added with little notice, but here’s a look at what’s currently scheduled or expected:

 

Today: Mike Pence, the GOP vice presidential nominee, visits Cocoa at noon, then Maitland at 3:30  p.m. and Clearwater at 6 p.m.

 

Tuesday: Hillary Clinton visits the Tampa area and the Orlando area, with specific times and locations not yet announced, then stops in Fort Lauderdale for an 8:45 p.m. rally at Reverend Samuel Delevoe Memorial Park.

 

Wednesday: Donald Trump has a breakfast fundraiser at his Trump National Doral Miami club, the Miami Herald reported. No public events have been announced for the GOP nominee, but don’t be surprised if one or more are added soon in a must-win state for Trump.

 

Also Wednesday: Vice President Joe Biden will campaign for Clinton in the Tampa area and in Palm Beach County, with specific sites and times not yet announced.

 

Thursday: President Barack Obama will campaign for Clinton at a not-yet-announced site in South Florida, and at a rally in Jacksonville.

Jennifer Lopez, Barack Obama, Joe Biden in Florida for Hillary Clinton

Jennifer Lopez in Palm Beach shooting a scene for the movie "Parker" in 2011. (J. Gwendolynne Berry / The Palm Beach Post)
Jennifer Lopez in Palm Beach shooting a scene for the movie “Parker” in 2011. (J. Gwendolynne Berry / The Palm Beach Post)

Hillary Clinton is hoping star power will help deliver a victory over Donald Trump in crucial Florida.

 

The Democratic nominee will campaign in Volusia County on Saturday, then join Jennifer Lopez at Miami’s Bayfront Park for what’s billed as a get-out-the-vote performance.

 

Clinton also plans to be somewhere in Florida on Tuesday, but details haven’t been announced.

 

Vice President Joe Biden will campaign for Clinton on Wednesday in the Tampa area and in Palm Beach County. Then President Barack Obama — who’s campaigning today for Clinton in Orlando and stumped for her in Miami Gardens last week — will return Thursday for rallies in South Florida and Jacksonville.

 

Except for J-Lo event, specific times and places have not been announced for the other Clinton campaign events.

 

 

 

 

Biden calls U.S. Senate “not functioning,” in campaign stop for Murphy

Vice President Joe Biden campaigns with U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, at a Tallahassee restaurant
Vice President Joe Biden campaigns with U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, at a Tallahassee restaurant

Vice President Joe Biden stopped at a Tallahassee restaurant Friday following a fund-raiser for U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy, making the case that unseating Republican Marco Rubio is critical to Democrats regaining control of the chamber.

Murphy, a Jupiter Democrat, has been the favorite of the Obama administration and most of the Democratic establishment in his Aug. 30 primary fight with U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando and three other Democratic contenders.

Biden’s focus Friday was already on November.

“It’s really important that we win back the United State Senate, no matter what the outcome of the presidential, and I think we’re going to do well in the presidential,” Biden said. “But there’s so much at stake in the Senate.”

Biden, who served 36 years in the Senate from Delaware, said partisan gridlock has left the chamber, “just not functioning.”

The campaign stop was more photo-op than get-out-the-vote. Biden and Murphy stopped at the restaurant at the base of the Florida A&M University hill long enough for the vice-president to pick up a lunch of chicken, black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese and cake — before heading to South Florida to raise money for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.

Biden called Murphy a “quality candidate.” At age 33, Murphy would become the youngest U.S. Senator, just as he was the youngest House member when elected in 2012.

“I’m enthusiastic about this race because we need more young people running,” Biden said.