Republican U.S. Senate contender Wilcox launching “peace through strength” tour following Orlando shootings

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Wilcox
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Wilcox

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Wilcox, an Orlando defense contractor and former CIA officer and Green Beret, said Monday that he will hold a three-day “preserving peace through strength” tour.

The goal, his campaign said, is to talk with Floridians about foreign policy and national security. The tour, beginning Tuesday, follows Saturday’s mass shooting in Orlando in which the accused gunman was an ISIS admirer.

“The unspeakable act of terror in my hometown this weekend remains on the forefront of concern this week for all of us and my hope is that this previously scheduled series of events serves as an opportunity to have thoughtful dialogue with veterans, GOP activists, community leaders, concerned Floridians and business owners about the impact our nation’s foreign policy has on our safety and security here at home,” Wilcox said.

The tour is slated for Tampa, Pensacola, Tallahassee, Amelia Island and Jacksonville through Thursday.

Others running for U.S. Senate on the Republican side include Sarasota developer Carlos Beruff, U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and David Jolly of Indian Shores, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who accompanied Gov. Rick Scott to Orlando following the shooting.

 

Would-be Marco Rubio replacements trade some elbows at GOP Senate forum in Boca Raton

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (left) and U.S. Rep. David Jolly shake hands before a GOP Senate candidate forum in Boca Raton on Thursday night.
Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (left) and U.S. Rep. David Jolly shake hands before a GOP Senate candidate forum in Boca Raton on Thursday night.

 

BOCA RATON — Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, businessman Todd Wilcox and even U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis bashed Washington during a gathering of Florida GOP Senate candidates Thursday night while a fourth candidate, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, said he’s proud of his experience inside the Beltway.

 

A place was set for Carlos Beruff, but the businessman was a late scratch for the GOP Senate candidates forum.
A place was set for Carlos Beruff, but the businessman was a late scratch for the GOP Senate candidates forum.

The four hopefuls, hoping to replace Sen. Marco Rubio in one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate races, met at a forum organized by a group called America First.

 

A fifth Republican candidate, homebuilder Carlos Beruff, cancelled Thursday because of what his campaign described as a scheduling conflict.

 

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Tonight in Boca Raton: 5 Republican Senate hopefuls meet for first time

Promotion from the group America First for tonight's GOP Senate forum.
Promotion from the group America First for tonight’s GOP Senate forum.

Florida’s five Republican U.S. Senate candidates — homebuilder Carlos Beruff, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and defense contractor Todd Wilcox — will meet for the first time tonight in Boca Raton for a forum organized by a conservative group called America First.

 

The five Republicans, along with Democratic U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, are hoping to replace Sen. Marco Rubio in a race eyed nationally as a key to determining control of the Senate.

 

Rubio has said he won’t seek re-election. But he has until June 24 to change his mind, and his Senate GOP colleagues and even Donald Trump have tried to get Rubio to enter the race.

 

Follow @gbennettpost on Twitter and PostOnPolitics.com and MyPalmBeachPost.com tonight for coverage of the event.

Clawson adds to Florida’s highest congressional turnover in the nation

U.S. Rep. Curt Clawson
U.S. Rep. Curt Clawson

Another Florida member of Congress has announced he won’t seek re-election this fall, setting the stage for the departure of at least one-third of the state’s 27-member delegation — considered the highest turnover in the nation.

U.S. Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Bonita Springs, said he wants to spend more time with his father, who has been struggling to cope with the death of Clawson’s mother last summer.

Clawson said he plans to finish out his first term in January.

Clawson held a secure Republican-leaning seat, and possible candidates to succeed him are already emerging, including Chauncey Goss of Sanibel, whose father, Porter, held the seat the seat for eight terms and became President George W. Bush’s CIA director.

With Clawson leaving, nine members of the Florida congressional delegation will leave the U.S. House after this fall’s elections: six Republicans and three Democrats.

Included in the list are Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter and Alan Grayson of Orlando, and Republicans Reps. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and David Jolly of Indian Shores, who are running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Marco Rubio.

Florida is part of a larger trend. More than 40 members of the U.S. House are leaving this year – about two-thirds of them Republicans, despite that party’s solid control of the chamber.

Rick Scott for Donald Trump VP? Florida poll bad for him, good for medical marijuana

Rick Scott has been praising Donald Trump since January, fueling speculation he could be Trump's running mate.
Rick Scott has been praising Donald Trump since January, fueling speculation he could be Trump’s running mate.

While Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been getting some mention as a potential running mate for Donald Trump, a new Quinnipiac University poll suggests Scott might not be an asset to the ticket in critical Florida.

 

Only 40 percent of Florida voters approve of the way Scott is handling his job as governor, with 49 percent disapproving. Scott’s approval rating has exceeded his disapproval rating only twice in Quinnipiac’s polling — in February 2011, his second month in office (35 percent approval, 22 percent disapproval) and last August (45 percent approval, 44 percent disapproval).

 

Quinnipiac, which released polling Tuesday that shows Trump and Hillary Clinton virtually tied in Florida, followed up today with a poll showing the state’s U.S. Senate race remains up for grabs and strong voter support for a medical marijuana initiative.

 

Voters favor a medical marijuana initiative slated for the November ballot by an 80-to-16 margin. That includes 71 percent support among Republicans, 84 percent support among independents and 79 percent support among seniors. Sixty percent of voters must approve of the measure to add it to the state constitution.

 

A similar marijuana measure failed in 2014, garnering 57.6 percent despite much stronger polling numbers before the vote.

 

In the Senate race, Quinnipiac didn’t poll on the five-candidate Republican primary or the Democratic primary between Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, but tested various hypothetical matchups between the Democratic and Republican candidates.

 

With a high percentage of undecided voters in every pairing, Murphy appears to be the strongest candidate. He edges each Republican by between 1 point and 5 points in a poll that has a 3 percent margin of error. Grayson, meanwhile, edges businessman Carlos Beruff by 1 point, runs even with Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and trails Reps. David Jolly and Ron DeSantis and businessman Todd Wilcox by 2 points apiece — all virtual ties considering the margin of error.

 

 

Murphy raises $2 million in ’16’s opening months

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy pulls in $2 million to open '16.
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy pulls in $2 million to open ’16.

Jupiter Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy said he Monday he has raised $2 million in the first quarter this year in his U.S. Senate bid, pushing his cash-on-hand to more than $5.6 million.

His primary rival, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, hasn’t announced his first-quarter figures. But Republican contender Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach last week was the first U.S. Senate candidate to show his cards — announcing that he’d collected $1.1 million from January through March and now has $3.2 million on hand.

DeSantis is among a pack of Republicans running for the seat.

For his part, Murphy said 85 percent of his first-quarter contributions were in amounts below $200. Campaign manager Josh Wolf said the candidate’s year-opening bank account shows he’s got the financial backing to win.

“Opening 2016 with this kind of milestone is a sign that our campaign has strong grassroots support across Florida, and will have the resources to win in August and in November,” Wolf said.

FAU poll: Donald Trump has big lead in Florida GOP primary; Grayson, Jolly top Senate field

Donald Trump is running away with the GOP primary in Florida, according to a new Florida Atlantic University poll.
Donald Trump is running away with the GOP primary in Florida, according to a new Florida Atlantic University poll.

Donald Trump is widening his lead among Republican voters in Florida, with 48 percent favoring the part-time Palm Beacher in a new Florida Atlantic University poll and Ted Cruz a distant second at 16 percent.

Home-state favorites Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush get 11 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

FAU’s poll shows Hillary Clinton leading the Democratic race in Florida with a 62-to-26 percent lead over Bernie Sanders.

fau dem senateThe winner-take-all presidential primaries are March 15.

In Florida’s open Senate race to replace Rubio, Rep. Alan Grayson holds a 27-to-20 percent advantage over Rep. Patrick Murphy among Democrats, with 45 percent undecided.

On the Republican side, Rep. David Jolly gets 28 percent while Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Rep. Ron DeSantis claim 8 percent apiece with 50 percent undecided.

fau gop senate

The Senate primaries and other non-presidential primaries are on Aug. 30.

FAU conducted the poll Jan. 15-18. The Republican and Democratic samples of likely primary voters each have a 5 percent margin of error. The overall statewide sample of 1,008 voters has a 3 percent margin of error.

With all the major presidential candidates viewed unfavorably by Florida voters, hypothetical general election match-ups are all close.

Trump leads Clinton by a 47-to-44 percent margin. Clinton beats Cruz, 47 percent to 42 percent. Rubio and Clinton are tied at 46 percent and Bush leads Clinton 45 percent to 42 percent.

Trump holds commanding, two-to-one lead among Florida Republicans, poll shows

Trump holds a two-to-one lead in Florida over nearest rival for Republican presidential nomination.
Trump holds a two-to-one lead in Florida over nearest rival for Republican presidential nomination.

Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican presidential field in Florida — outstripping his nearest rival, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio — by two-to-one among primary voters, a new Florida Atlantic University poll shows.

Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton has coasted to an even bigger lead, leading Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders by 66 percent to 22 percent of the vote in that party’s nomination contest, the poll shows.

The survey was conducted Sunday and Monday, in the wake of news about the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Among Florida Republican registered voters surveyed, Trump leads with 36 percent, Rubio is at 18 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 15 percent, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has 10 percent, and former Gov. Jeb Bush rounds out the field’s top five with 9 percent.

While the Republican candidates all draw strong favorability ratings among party voters, those numbers are reversed when all registered voters are surveyed.

Trump’s unfavorability rating is 51 percent to 41 percent among all voters surveyed. Rubio also is underwater at 42 percent to 47 percent among voters, the poll shows.

Faring worst, however, appears to be Bush among all voters. While 51 percent have an unfavorable impression of the former governor, only 34 percent hold a favorable opinion.

Among Hispanic voters, an important bloc in Florida, Rubio, a first-generation Cuban-American, is the favorite at 34 percent. Trump, who has made his signature campaign issue the demand that the U.S. crack down on illegal immigration and build a wall at the Mexican border, is second most popular among Hispanics.

Trump is tied with Carson at 19 percent, the FAU survey shows.

Bush, whose wife is Mexican and who is fluent in Spanish, lands fourth among Hispanics, with 13 percent saying they support him.

On the Democratic side, Clinton suffers from negative name recognition, with 41 percent of voters overall giving her a favorable rating compared to 54 percent with an unfavorable opinion.

Clinton also lags behind all her Republican rivals in head-to-head matchups. Carson holds the biggest lead at 9 percent; Trump has an 8 percent edge if he was to square-off against Clinton.

In Florida’s race for the open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Rubio, potential match-ups surveyed show Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy holding a 9 percent lead over Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, at 39 percent to 30 percent, with Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson trailing Lopez-Cantera 38 percent to 34 percent.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis does better against the Democrats, trailing Murphy 38 percent to 36 percent but leading Grayson 37 percent to 33 percent.

The FAU poll included 829 registered voters and has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 3.3 percent. Among primary voters, 297 Democrats were surveyed, with a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 5.6 percent and 355 Republicans responded, with a 5.2 percent margin-of-error.

Sunshine Summit: DeSantis set tone for day, condemning Obama policies on terror

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis

ORLANDO — U.S. Senate candidate Ron DeSantis set what is likely to emerge as a recurring theme Saturday at the Florida Republican Party’s Sunshine Summit, saying the Paris terrorist attacks show Obama administration policies have put the world in more danger.

DeSantis, a Ponte Vedra Beach congressman, said the, “Iran deal that the president has concocted is the most dangerous deal that this country has entered into in any of our lifetimes.”

He said that lifting trade sanctions in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program has heightened the threat to Israel.

DeSantis called Israel “our best friend in the Middle East.” And he said the president, “has treated them like a doormat.”

DeSantis, among a handful of Republicans vying for the seat being vacated by Marco Rubio, is a former Navy military prosecutor who served at the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and also was deployed to Iraq.

He drew a distinction between dealing with Iran and radical Islamic groups and the old Soviet Union. A nuclear policy driven by religion is more dangerous than facing-off with Soviet leaders, whose approach, DeSantis said, was backed by an atheist state.

“They were communists and they didn’t want any kind of nuclear exchange, because they had nowhere to go,” DeSantis said. “Mutually assured destruction in these people (Islamic terrorists) is not a deterent, it may be an inducement. That is something we have to understand.”

 

An unmarried woman, a millenial and a minority walk into a voting booth….

Unmarried women, millenials and minorities could hold key to U.S. Senate control.
Unmarried women, millenials and minorities could hold key to U.S. Senate control.

A new survey shows that unmarried women, millenials and minority voters will prove the key to whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate after next year’s elections.

The poll of swing states Colorado, Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida shows that if this group dubbed the rising American electorate (RAE) leans Democratic, it would overwhelm what is currently shaping up as a Republican edge in enthusiasm for going to the polls.

“Unmarried women are a key dynamic in American politics and this poll reinforces their position as a driving force behind progressive victories up and down the ballot in 2016, as they were in 2008 and 2012,” said Page Gardner, President and Founder of the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, one of the survey’s sponsors.

The poll projects that in Florida, the RAE will climb by 2 percent next year from the 2012 election cycle, — representing 55 percent of the potential voters in the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Marco Rubio, who is running for president.

But so far, these voters are clearly not engaged in the race, the poll found.