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.

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.

 

 

 

Republicans targeting Nelson with billboard on algae bloom

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is hoping to tie anger about the toxic algae bloom that has fouled waters in the Treasure Coast to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat the GOP wants to knock off when he seeks re-election in 2018.

Starting today, commuters driving past Interstate 95 at 10th Avenue near exit 64 will see a billboard urging them to “TELL BILL NELSON: Do more to fix Florida’s algae crisis.”

Nelson authored legislation that was passed into law in 2014 to direct $82 million for research into the causes and control of algae blooms and to give additional resources to communities affected by them.

The senator has also sponsored legislation that would, for the first time, pave the way for states and local communities hit hard by algae blooms to get federal assistance.

That legislation passed the Senate’s Commerce Committee in May. The Senate’s GOP leadership will determine when it is brought to the floor.

Nelson, first elected to the Senate in 2000 after a stint in the U.S. House of Representatives, could face Gov. Rick Scott in what would be an expensive, all-out battle Democrats can’t afford to lose if they have any hope of recapturing a majority in the Senate.

The GOP is already at work softening up Nelson.

“After 40 years in Congress, Bill Nelson has only reinforced his ineffectiveness as a lawmaker,” NRSC Communications Director Katie Martin said. “Floridians deserve a senator who will win the fight to fix the algae crisis, and decades have proven that Bill Nelson isn’t the man for the job.”

An algae outbreak curdled sections of the St. Lucie River in 2016, damaging businesses and angering residents who blamed Lake Okeechobee discharges for the smelly bloom.

State lawmakers passed a plan this year that would have the state store water south of Lake Okeechobee as a means of eliminating the discharges and, they hope, the algae spread.

For his part, Nelson is aware he has a political target on his back.

His campaign sent out a fundraising pitch Thursday mentioning Scott and President Donald Trump.

“CNN has ranked Florida’s Senate race as one of the most competitive races in the country next year,” the campaign pitch read. “And just last week, Gov. Rick Scott and Donald Trump met in New Jersey to begin plotting their campaign against Bill Nelson.”

The campaign said “a generous group of donors has stepped up big time and has offered to MATCH every donation we receive this week.”

“With Trump personally recruiting Scott to be his rubber stamp in the Senate, we CANNOT afford to waste this extraordinary opportunity to have your donation DOUBLED – making every dollar you give go TWICE as far – but time is running out.”

The donation match ended on Friday, but Nelson’s fight for re-election is only just warming up.

Another “Trump Divorce” in the offing?

Dave and Lynn Aronberg at a New Year’s Eve celebration at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion.

The divorce of Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg from former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Lynn Aronberg isn’t the only one being blamed, in part, on President Donald Trump.

Multiple news reports Friday indicated that the wife of the president’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, has filed for divorce citing, among other things, their differing views of Trump.

The news reports quote people supposedly close to Deidre Scaramucci saying she loathes Trump.

In his first press conference as communications director, Scaramucci said – many, many times – that he loves the president.

A press statement released by a media company that employs Lynn Aronberg was headlined: “Dave and Lynn Aronberg Sign Amicable Divorce Settlement Putting and End to What Some Were Calling The Trump Divorce.”

Dave Aronberg is a Democrat. The statement described Lynn Aronberg as “a staunch Republican and supporter of President Donald Trump” who “said she felt increasingly isolated in the marriage.”

Conservative guerilla videographer James O’Keefe heading to Palm Beach County

Guerilla videographer James O’Keefe will headline the Palm Beach County GOP’s annual Lobsterfest next month.

Conservative activist James O’Keefe — whose Project Veritas Action has released controversial undercover videos targeting CNN, the Hillary Clinton campaign and the liberal group ACORN — will keynote the Palm Beach County Republican Party’s annual Lobsterfest dinner next month.

U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Ron DeSantis are also scheduled to appear at Lobsterfest.

The dinner is slated for Aug. 17 at the Polo Club of Boca Raton, with tickets selling  for $145 a plate or $250 for a VIP reception. The event will also feature U.S. Reps. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, and  Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach. Freshman Mast is the only Republican in Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation. DeSantis is a potential 2018 candidate for governor or attorney general.

O’Keefe burst onto the political scene in 2009 when he and a Florida International University student posed as a pimp and prostitute and recorded hidden-camera footage in which they visited offices of the liberal Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and appeared to get advice from ACORN employees on setting up a brothel and evading taxes.

Last fall, O’Keefe’s Project Veritas recorded videos in West Palm Beach in which Clinton campaign staffers appeared to make light of sexual assault and condone the destruction of voter registration forms submitted by Republicans.

O’Keefe’s critics accuse him of selectively and deceptively editing videos and note he was sentenced in 2010 to three years’ probation, 100 hours of community service and a $1,500 fine for the misdemeanor charge of entering a federal building under false pretenses.

Mast rips media in roundtable discussion

Rep. Brian Mast

Forget Russia. Forget WikiLeaks and its document dumps. Forget, even, all of those undocumented residents who, according to President Donald Trump, voted illegally and cost him the popular vote.

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, said the press was “the greatest saboteur” in the 2016 election.

Mast, whose district includes northern Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, made the comment during a roundtable discussion with other members of Congress filmed by CBS News.

“If I would point to anyone as the greatest saboteur of our election, it would be the press and the way they drive the message that they want to drive – hands down,” Mast said.

His comment drew an immediate response from U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J.

“Yeah, but what’s the alternative?” Pascrell asked Mast. “You want to do it like Greece and Turkey in terms of how they control their media, particularly their print media? I think the press has done a fantastic job.”

Pascrell then decried attacks on the press over the past six months.

“I would say the alternative is more editorializing and less opinion,” Mast said.

Members of both parties told CBS News that the press seizes on political discord, but, with Trump branding unfavorable reports as “fake news,” ripping the press has become a staple of some Republicans.

Asked for comment Wednesday, a spokesman for Mast said the congressman will let his remarks speak for themselves.

While Mast described the press as the “greatest saboteur” of the 2016 election, he has been critical of Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies said tried to influence the election.

“Unfortunately, the vacuum of power created by the Obama Administration has also been filled by Russia to sow chaos through both physical and cyber warfare,” the congressman says on his web site. “Russia’s expansion in Eastern Europe must be stopped and their attempts to influence the outcome of American elections must not be tolerated.”

Democrats have said their internal polling indicates that Mast will be among the most vulnerable Republicans in the country when he seeks re-election next year. The seat is expected to be a key part of the Democrats’ push to recapture a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In an effort to tie Mast to the unfolding Russia scandal, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has cited reporting that a Mast consultant used information the Russians stole from the DCCC’s computers in 2016.

“Congressman Mast’s campaign used information stolen by Russian hackers and then got caught trying to mislead his voters about what his campaign had done,” Cole Leiter, a DCCC spokesman, said Wednesday. “Frankly, it’s telling how far Washington he’s gone that he’s now pointing fingers at the media instead of taking responsibility for his own dirty tricks.”

Republicans have said they aren’t worried about Mast’s re-election prospects and have labeled the used-hacked-information charge as a “ridiculous lie.”

Brian Mast amassing money for re-election bid

Rep. Brian Mast

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, figures to have a tough re-election battle.

He’s already drawn one opponent, former U.S. Navy attorney Pam Keith, and another formidable candidate, State Attorney Dave Aronberg, is rumored to be considering a run.

If they get in, they better have some generous supporters.

The Mast campaign will report raising $734,000 this quarter, bring its total so far to over $1.1 million.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reported that its internal polling shows Mast to be vulnerable, but the U.S. Army veteran said he’s not worried.

“While national democrats desperately dump money into the 18th District with lies to undermine Brian mast’s service to our country, people obviously aren’t buying it,” Mast spokesman Brad Stewart said. “With 92 percent of all donations being small dollar and a median donation of $25, it’s clearer than ever that there is a broad grassroots enthusiasm for Brian’s agenda to upend the status quo in Washington and restore fiscal sanity to our country.”

 

NEW: Trump names South Florida GOP leader as ambassador to Costa Rica

President Donald Trump will nominate a longtime Republican Party official from South Florida to be ambassador to Costa Rica, the White House said Wednesday night.

Sharon Day currently serves as national committeewoman for the Broward County GOP, where she has been a key figure for more than 20 years.

Broward County’s Sharon Day speaks to the 2016 Republican National Convention. (Getty Images)

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Day was tapped last year to speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where she said Trump would be “a president who tells the truth.”

The White House also on Wednesday announced Trump would nominate Kelly Knight Craft of Kentucky to be ambassador to Canada.

Here is the White House announcement on Trump’s intent to nominate Day:

Sharon Day of Florida to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Costa Rica. Ms. Sharon Day most recently served as co-chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC), having been first elected in January 2011 and reelected in 2013 and 2015. She has served the Republican Party at the local, state, and national level for more than twenty years, with a focus on engaging and empowering women candidates and activists, as well as strengthening state parties and volunteerism. She is an active political columnist and commentator. Earlier in her career, she was the chief executive officer and vice president of Marketing of Stop Loss International, a general managing underwriter and reinsurance company, headquartered in Indianapolis. Ms. Day has also been active in community service, including as housing authority chair for the Broward County Housing Authority and as commissioner on the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.”

 

Pro-Trump rally to be held today

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump enter the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea for Easter service Sunday. (Melanie Bell / Palm Beach Daily News)

The Palm Beach County Tea Party is hosting a rally this afternoon in support of President Donald Trump’s tax reform plan.

The rally, scheduled to be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the intersection of PGA Boulevard and Military Trail in Palm Beach Gardens, comes on the heels of a weekend of protests across the country where the president was criticized for not releasing his tax returns.

Trump’s tax reform plan has not been laid out, and recent polling suggests the president has sunk to historic lows in job approval and trustworthiness at this point in a presidency.

But his backers are rallying the troops, urging them to bring signs or use ones they’ll supply to push for support for the president’s plans.

Report: Paul Ryan in Palm Beach Thursday; Dem already attacking

Ryan

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan isn’t in the Sunshine State yet, but gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is already throwing some shade his way.

“When Speaker Paul Ryan comes to Florida later this week, he’ll hear a rallying cry from every corner of our state: Governor Rick Scott should expand Medicaid now, and Obamacare is the law of the land,” Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee, said in a press release. “His continued refusal to expand coverage is a deeply damaging mark on our state’s healthcare system, and the governor should immediately take this long overdue step to save lives. Speaker Ryan should know that healthcare is a right, and any attempt to further hurt Florida’s families will backfire at the ballot box.”

The Miami Herald has reported that Ryan, fresh off the House’s high-profile failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, plans to spend Thursday and Friday at The Breakers on Palm Beach huddling with top financial donors.