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.

Where’s Rubio? Unknown group wants to know

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

It’s Wednesday afternoon. Do you know where one of your U.S. senators is?

Speaking Up for America – a group that doesn’t appear to be registered as a corporation or a political committee in Florida or with the Federal Elections Commission – has paid for an advertisement in The Palm Beach Post describing U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio as “lost.”

The ad has a picture of Rubio and a tongue-in-cheek description.

“He may respond to the title ‘Senator Marco Rubio,’ though his constituents have been unable to verify whether this is still the case as they have been unable to contact him in recent weeks,” the ad reads. “Senator Rubio was recently re-elected to the United State Senate and may be found in Washington, D.C. Many of his concerned constituents have been trying to reach him by phone, email, fax, the Senate website, and the Postal Service about a variety of issues, but they have been unable to reach the Senator and have received no response to their communications.”

The ad finishes with: “If found, please return Senator Rubio to his constituents by way of a Town Hall meeting or other suitable gathering in which the Senator demonstrates his accountability to his constituents by listening to and honestly addressing their concerns.”

Rubio’s office didn’t take the swipe laying down.

“We have been fully accessible and responsive to constituents, including the two individuals likely hiding behind this anonymous ad,” the senator’s press secretary, Matt Wolking, wrote in an email to The Post. “Our Palm Beach office only has one employee and serves multiple counties, but he greets any protesters who show up and has already met with hundreds of these activists.”

Wolking was just getting warmed up.

“This dishonest ad is part of a coordinated strategy of disruption revealed in an online activist manual, which instructs liberal protesters to carry out ‘mass office calling’ in which the group ‘all agree[s] to call in on one specific issue that day,’ he wrote. “They are further instructed that ‘the next day or week, pick another issue, and call again on that.’ Their goal is to flood offices with calls and emails, disrupt our ability to respond, then complain to the press that they aren’t getting a response.”

Nelson announces opposition to Trump’s EPA pick

Sen. Bill Nelson calls on the House to pass a Zika funding bill without "unacceptable riders."

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has announced his opposition to President Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt.

Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, shut down his office’s environmental protection unit. Critics fear he will curtail the EPA’s enforcement authority.

Nelson said he won’t vote to confirm Pruitt because of his ties to the oil and gas industry, which has supported Pruitt’s campaigns.

“Ever since I was a young congressman, I have been fighting to keep oil rigs off the coast of Florida,” Nelson said. “And an EPA administrator with such close ties to the oil industry is deeply concerning for the people of Florida.”

While Trump wants Pruitt to lead the EPA, one Florida congressman, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, has introduced legislation to terminate the agency.

Several members of Palm Beach County’s congressional delegation have blasted that idea.

 

Poll shows Rubio leads Murphy in U.S. Senate race, with Democrat losing independents; not winning enough women voters

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy dodged raindrops to work the crowd at Barack Obama's Sunday rally in Kissimmee.
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy dodged raindrops to work the crowd at Barack Obama’s Sunday rally in Kissimmee.

Republican Marco Rubio has a sizable lead over Patrick Murphy in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, a new poll shows, with the Democrat unable to summon the strong support from women voters that are powering presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The presidential race in Florida remains a dead heat, according to the latest Quinnipiac University Poll. But the survey shows Rubio topping Murphy 50-43 percent in his bid for a second term in the U.S. Senate, which other polls show is likely to shift into Democratic hands following Tuesday’s elections.

Rubio is helped by overwhelming support from men, white voters and independents, who favor him 55-39 percent, Quinnipiac found. And while Murphy leads among non-white voters, women voters deadlocked at 46-46 percent, Quinnipiac found.

“U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy is not getting the support a Democrat needs among women and non-white voters to overcome Sen. Marco Rubio’s lead among men and white voters,” Brown said.

Murphy, a two-term Congressman from Jupiter, has been outspent by Rubio, whose has a 3-to-1 advantage in money from outside groups supporting him. It’s translated into more TV ads and campaign organization.

Murphy introduced President Obama on Sunday at a big last-day-of-early-voting-rally in mostly Hispanic Kissimmee. But the Quinnipiac poll also shows that Rubio is holding a 48-46 percent edge on Murphy in early voting.

Quinnipiac polled 884 likely Florida voters from last Thursday through Sunday. The poll has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 3.3 percent.

 

At Kissimmee rally, Obama says, “If we win Florida, it’s over”

President Obama rallied voters in Kissimmee for Hillary Clinton
President Obama rallied voters in Kissimmee for Hillary Clinton

President Obama rallied voters for Hillary Clinton and a continuation of his policies in heavily-Hispanic Kissimmee, saying Sunday that her winning Florida will effectively put her in the White House.

“All the progress we’ve made, it goes out the window if we don’t win the election,” Obama told about 11,000 people at a baseball stadium. “And we win this election, if we win Florida.

“If we win Florida, it’s a wrap. If we win Florida, it’s over,” he said.

Polls show the state remains a toss-up heading into the presidential campaign’s closing days and Obama’s visit underscored the significance of Florida and its 29 electoral votes.

Republican Donald Trump also is out to claim the state, campaigning Saturday in Tampa and with plans to return Monday for an Election Day-eve rally in Sarasota.

Trump’s path to the White House relies much on winning Florida and several other key battleground states. He planned to barnstorm across five states Sunday, while Clinton was campaigning in Ohio — with Cleveland Cavaliers’ star LeBron James — and New Hampshire.

In Florida, a surge in Hispanic voting is poised to help Clinton and Obama pushed voters Sunday by saying the presidential choice was clear. And simple.

“The choice couldn’t be simpler,” Obama said. “On the one hand, you have somebody who is maybe the most qualified person ever to run for the presidency. On the other hand, you’ve got the Donald.”

“Don’t boo him,” Obama said, when a chorus rose with the mention of his name. “Vote…he can’t hear your boos, but he can hear your votes.”

FBI probing alleged donor scheme in Murphy’s 2012 race, report says

Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy at their first debate in Orlando
Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy at their first debate in Orlando

The Hill newspaper is reporting Wednesday that the FBI is investigating an illegal contribution scheme involving a Saudi family that backs Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida’s U.S. Senate race.

The paper points out it found no evidence that Murphy was aware of the alleged use of “straw donors” to steer money to his 2012 campaign for Congress.

A Republican Super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, filed a complaint in June with the Federal Elections Commission over the same issue. The PAC alleged the scheme also helped Charlie Crist in his 2010 run for U.S. Senate.

According to the Senate Leadership Fund: “The donors have no prior contribution history other than the out-of-state contributions to Murphy and Crist…(and) contributions were all made on overlapping or closely-clustered dates; and the only apparent connection between these contributors is a wealthy ally of Patrick Murphy named Ibrahim Al-Rashid.

Al-Rashid is a former high-school friend of Murphy’s and the son of a politically connected Saudi billionaire. Al-Rashid has given almost $400,000 to Murphy’s campaigns over the years and to outside groups supporting the Jupiter congressman.

Murphy’s campaign said neither Murphy nor his campaign staff have been contacted by the FBI and point out the Senate Leadership Fund has poured millions into helping opponent, Republican Marco Rubio’s campaign.

Murphy, speaking in West Palm Beach on Wednesday, disputed the Hill’s report.

“There’s no sources. There’s nothing in there. The authorities did not even comment on it,” Murphy said. “I haven’t been contacted, nor has my team. This is another attempt by the special interest groups, the Republican groups, to try to distract from Senator Rubio’s record. We’re not distracted.”

 

 

Florida Democrats, Republicans agree: They want money from Obama administration

Florida Democrats, Republicans agree they want money -- fast-- from the White House.
Florida Democrats, Republicans agree they want money — fast– from the White House.

With Election Day nearing, Florida elected officials from both parties have found something to agree on: They want more money from the Obama administration.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott started the demand for dollars Tuesday — saying the president should move more swiftly to free money for states to combat the Zika virus.

Congress broke a months-long deadlock in September by approving $1.1 billion to fight the virus. But Florida hasn’t received any money yet, Scott said.

“While Florida continues to work through the bureaucratic and highly complex approval process for federal funding, there should be an expedited award to Florida given the fact that we are the only state currently battling local transmission of Zika through mosquitoes,” Scott said.

Soon after, Democratic and Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation sent Obama a letter asking him to quickly total a request for emergency funding for Florida and other states hit last month by Hurricane Matthew.

Florida is having to rebuild part of A1A in Flagler County that was wiped out by the storm.

“If your administration believes that emergency funding is necessary, we strongly urge you to submit a request to Congress as soon as possible so that it may be considered in the next government funding bill that Congress needs to pass by December 9, 2016,” the delegation wrote.

 

 

 

Senate Majority PAC steers money to Murphy — ‘so you’re telling me there’s a chance?’

Republican Marco Rubio; Democrat Patrick Murphy
Republican Marco Rubio; Democrat Patrick Murphy

While digging into his bank account for a $1 million loan to the campaign, Democrat Patrick Murphy also will be getting at least that amount from a Democratic Super PAC that earlier abandoned him.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s Senate Majority PAC has made a seven-figure transfer to Floridians for a Strong Middle Class, a Florida-based Super PAC supporting Patrick Murphy’s campaign.

“This race is closing,” Senate Majority PAC spokesman Shripal Shah.

The Senate Majority PAC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this month dropped plans to steer millions toward Murphy’s bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, believing the money was better spent in cheaper, more winnable U.S. Senate races.

On Friday, a new poll commissioned by a Democratic Super PAC conducted by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling showed Murphy tied with Rubio, his best showing after trailing the Republican in virtually every survey conducted since June.

Other recently released polls, though, show Rubio with a lead ranging from narrow to commanding.

For his part, Rubio is airing a new TV spot Friday featuring his wife, Jeanette, talking about her husband’s sponsorship of legislation aimed at blunting human trafficking by requiring all nations that receive U.S. aid to provide birth certificates for newborn girls.

With Rubio trying to put many miles between himself and Donald Trump — whom he still endorses — the ad is clearly aimed at women voters repelled by the Republican presidential nominee.

Murphy digs deep ($1 million) into pocket for TV ads; Rubio taunts

Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy at their first debate, last week in Orlando
Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy at their first debate, last week in Orlando

Democrat Patrick Murphy, shunned by his party’s national organizations despite a tightening race with Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, has reached into his own pocket and loaned his campaign $1 million for TV ads to air in the campaign’s closing days.

Rubio fired back Thursday — touting the $2.85 million he has raised in the opening weeks of October.

“Not only are national Democrats abandoning Murphy, but his donors, both big and small, are turning their backs too,” the Rubio campaign said in a statement.

For his part, Murphy campaign manager Josh Wolf said, “These additional resources will help position our campaign to win with expanded TV buys across Florida. We are confident in our path to victory.”

Murphy is from a wealthy South Florida construction family. His father, Thomas Murphy, has already poured millions into political commitees supporting his son.

Outside groups supporting Rubio are outspending Murphy’s allies by more than three-to-one.

The day after the contenders’ first Senate debate last week, Murphy was hit with news that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had dropped plans to air TV spots for him, directing its spending to states with Senate contests seen as cheaper to buy advertising and more winnable.

DSCC last spring had pledged to spend $10 million helping Murphy — before Rubio announced that he’d seek re-election.

Since then, the DSCC has canceled all its general election advertising for the two-term Jupiter congressman, who has trailed Rubio in every major poll taken in the race.

Still, with last night’s second and likely final TV debate in the Florida Senate race, several recent polls have shown Murphy gaining on his rival.

Clinton still leads in Florida, while Rubio’s tie to Trump may not hurt, FAU poll shows

Democrats have already been trying to link Sen. Marco Rubio to Donald Trump, as on this Palmetto Expressway billboard.
Democrats link Sen. Marco Rubio to Donald Trump, even earlier putting up a Palmetto Expressway billboard.

A new Florida Atlantic University poll gives Democrat Hillary Clinton a within-the-margin-of-error lead over Donald Trump in Florida, rebounding from an earlier survey that showed him trailing by six percent.

Clinton has a 3 percent edge, leading Trump 46-43 percent, with six percent still undecided, according to the poll by the FAU Business and Economics Polling Initiative.

The survey of 500 likely Florida voters was conducted last weekend and has a 4.3 percent, plus-or-minus margin-of-error. An FAU poll two weeks ago had Clinton with a six-percent lead.

In Florida’s U.S. Senate race, Republican Marco Rubio holds a 4 percent lead over Democrat Patrick Murphy, 46-42 percent, with 12 percent undecided.

While Rubio’s endorsement of Trump has been used as an attack line by Murphy, the survey raises questions about its effectiveness.

When asked whether Rubio standing by his endorsement of Donald Trump would make them more or less likely to vote for him, 30 percent said more likely, 37 percent said less likely and 32 percent said it would not make a difference.

Among undecided voters, however, 47 percent said they would be more likely to support Rubio while 35 percent said less likely because of his endorsement of Trump.