Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alan Grayson married fiancee Dr. Dena Minning on Melbourne Beach over the weekend. She’s a Democrat running for the Central Florida congressional seat he’s leaving for his Senate bid.
“Rep. Alan Grayson and his wife Dr. Dena Grayson had a small, private wedding ceremony Sunday evening, with friends and family in attendance to celebrate their union, in the Florida beach town where Dena grew up,” was all the Alan Grayson campaign was saying.
But having district voters finding the name Grayson on their ballot again, could help.
The new Mrs. Grayson is a medical doctor and biochemist and the couple had been dating since 2014. Alan Grayson’s former 25-year marriage ended in annulment last year following a bitter court battle which included the candidate accusing then-wife Lolita of bigamy.
The Clinton campaign gathered three retired Florida veterans to ridicule Trump’s record and cast doubts about his ability to lead the nation’s military.
Gene Kendall, a former Navy rear admiral, called Trump “a loose cannon,” who was forced to hold a news conference Tuesday mainly to blunt media questions about whether he had shared the millions he claimed to raise at a January event in Iowa.
“It wasn’t something he did willingly, you can be rest assured of that,” Kendall said.
Trump said at his New York news conference that the money promised in Iowa has been distributed, blaming the delay on the need to screen the groups receiving the funds.
Trump said he gave money to various veterans’ charities, including Hope for the Warriors, Homes for Our Troops, the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust and K9s for Warriors. The largest contribution Trump listed was $1.1 million to the Marine Corps–Law Enforcement Foundation.
That didn’t ease criticism from Clinton supporters.
Elena McCullough, a Coast Guard veteran, called it a “phony fund-raiser on behalf of veterans.”
“We can’t afford to have a person like Donald Trump in charge of our armed forces,” added former Air Force Brigadier General John Douglass of Cocoa Beach.
President Barack Obama has an outspoken and unlikely ally in his push for more dollars to combat the rising threat of the Zika virus – former Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio.
The Florida senator, whose home state has an alarming number of Zika infections, is ridiculing fellow Republicans in Congress for refusing to back the White House’s request for $1.9 billion to fight the mosquito-borne virus.
In an unusual step, Rubio even is urging voters to press House members back in their districts for this week’s Memorial Day recess about why they’ve drawn a line at $622 million in spending.
The Senate has approved $1.1 billion. Negotiations between the two sides aren’t expected to begin until after the recess.
“I urge the American people to make next week a tough one on those who are home from Congress, who have refused to take meaningful action to confront Zika because they need to hear from you,” Rubio said last week on the Senate floor.
And to any members of Congress who don’t receive pressure at home next week, you should know that you soon enough will,” he said.
But Scott sees the spread of mega-developments, from the Panhandle to the heart of panther habitat in Southwest Florida, as helping the state pay for widespread environmental problems facing the state.
The Indian River Lagoon on the state’s Atlantic shore and Caloosahatchee River on the Gulf of Mexico side have been badly fouled by freshwater runoff from Lake Okeechobee, carrying pollutants from neighborhoods, farms and cities.
At the same time, freshwater springs, concentrated mostly in Central and North Florida, have proved particularly vulnerable to pollutants from nearby development. Such landmark sites as Silver Springs, Wakulla Springs and Fanning Springs are choked by nutrients and algae.
Scott, though, said his administration has steered $880 million toward advancing long-stalled Everglades’ projects while backing major efforts for cleaning the Indian River Lagoon and endangered springs.
These initiatives would not be possible without the dollars provided by the building projects that are flourishing in Florida, he said.
“All that’s happened,” Scott said, “because we’ve turned around our economy.”
On what had been timber and farm land in Charlotte County on the Gulf coast, a city whose acreage is bigger than Manhattan is beginning to emerge. In Orange County, 4,000 homes are on their way east of the Econlockhatchee River, long a dividing line between urban and rural Central Florida. Prime Florida panther habitat is targeted for development in eastern Collier County, just southeast of Palm Beach County.
What’s happened in Florida since growth oversight has been reduced?
The wholesale building boom can be traced in state statistics.
Real estate tax collections, a strong barometer of growth, soared 17 percent last year in Florida to $2.1 billion.
That was the highest level in the state since 2006 when these documentary stamp taxes paid on real estate transactions began toppling from a pre-recession high of $4 billion in 2005, a towering mark propelled upward by two straight years of hurricane rebuilding.
The most building permits in a decade also were issued last year in Florida after five years of growth.
The rising tax receipts not only are proof of a rebounding economy, but also helped fuel a state budget that hit $82 billion this year for the first time. That allowed Scott to make good on his re-election promise to give back $1 billion in tax breaks.
Five years after Gov. Rick Scott scaled back Florida’s growth laws, massive development projects are underway across the state, boosting employment and tax collections but also sparking fears of traffic-choked roads and environmental calamities.
But similar, multi-thousand-acre projects are also in the works this spring across remote stretches of scrub and wetland – virtually in every corner of Florida.
Such mega-projects as Babcock Ranch,Plum Creek, Lake Pickett and Deseret Ranch, are poised to add thousands of houses, millions of feet of commercial space and swell the state’s population through the next decade by converting vast amounts of rural land.
Palm Beach County Commissioner Paulette Burdick, who fought much of the western growth in her county, traces Florida’s boom to Scott’s actions in 2011.
“It just kicked the door open,” Burdick said. “But the impact of all this development is ultimately going to be picked up by the taxpayers. They’re the ones who will have to pay for the needed roads, the schools and improving the bad water we’ll be left with.”
Sen. Marco Rubio will speak at a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch today amid renewed pressure from his Senate colleagues — and late-night Twitter encouragement from Donald Trump — to go against repeated pledges and run for re-election to his Senate seat.
Follow @gbennettpost on Twitter and PostOnPolitics.com later today for coverage of Rubio’s speech at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
When Rubio launched his 2016 presidential campaign last year, he said he would not seek re-election to the Senate this year if his White House bid fell short. Five Republicans — including longtime Rubio friend and Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera — entered the Senate race, but none has gained much traction so far. Republican senators, increasingly worried that Democrats will win Florida’s Senate seat and take control of the chamber, urged Rubio on Thursday to get into the race.
“Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida. Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!” Trump tweeted.
Earlier Thursday, Rubio addressed the pressure from his colleagues, telling reporters: “I think Carlos Lopez-Cantera is a very good candidate so I understand the argument and the people who are coming forward and asking me to reconsider are people I respect and enjoy serving with, but I have a really good friend running for the Senate who I think is a good candidate, who I think gives us a real good chance to win if he were to be nominated.”
Asked if he’d run if Lopez-Cantera dropped out, Rubio said he would not address a hypothetical scenario.
Florida’s candidate qualifying deadline is June 24, so there’s four more weeks for the drama to play out.
Rubio, who will speak at a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch on Friday, talked this afternoon with Florida reporters in Washington and on a conference call. The former presidential candidate didn’t minimize his past differences with Donald Trump, but said Trump is a better choice for president than Democrat Hillary Clinton, whom he referred to twice as “corrupt.”
When Rubio launched his presidential campaign last year, he announced he would not seek re-election to the Senate even if his campaign failed. That touched off a five-candidate GOP scramble for his Senate seat in which no candidate has gained significant traction. Republicans in Washington are growing increasingly nervous about losing the seat — and control of the chamber — to Democrats and have urged Rubio to consider entering the Senate race before Florida’s June 24 deadline.
Rubio said he’s been “honored” by the talk, but noted Lopez-Cantera is a longtime friend and “I think he’s a great candidate. I think he’ll make a great Senator.” He hinted at a formal endorsement of Lopez-Cantera soon.
Rubio was asked if he’d change his mind about the Senate race if he were persuaded that doing so would preserve the GOP’s control of the Senate.
Said Rubio: “I think Carlos Lopez-Cantera is a very good candidate so I understand the argument and the people who are coming forward and asking me to reconsider are people I respect and enjoy serving with, but I have a really good friend running for the Senate who I think is a good candidate, who I think gives us a real good chance to win if he were to be nominated.”
“I obviously have real reservations about some of the things he has said and done during the campaign. I also think he happens to be substantially better than Hillary Clinton,” Rubio said. He specifically mentioned Trump’s stance on repealing Obamacare, his promise to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court and his stated opposition to abortion.
“When you look at some of the issues that I care about deeply, he’s way better than she is and this is a binary choice…I’m going to support him. I’m going to vote for him. I think Hillary Clinton would be a disaster for America. I think she’s corrupt. I think she habitually misleads. And I think everywhere the Clintons go they bring their drama with them and this country really can’t afford that right now.”
Later, a reporter asked Rubio how he could support Trump after calling him a “con man” and offering other harsh criticisms.
“Well, because the only other choice is someone who I believe is corrupt, someone who I know has spent an entire career misleading people, including in her time as the secretary of state, is someone who I disagree wth on virtually every major issue before our country – Hillary Clinton. And I’m not supporting her and I’m not going to abstain from voting….elections are binary choices,” Rubio said.
Rubio also got a few digs in at U.S. Rep. and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a fellow South Floridian who’s been an ideological adversary since their days in the Florida Legislature.
Trump’s candidacy has highlighted divisions within the GOP, but Rubio said, “It’s not as divided as the Democratic Party, where people are throwing chairs and punches at each other, where Bernie Sanders has no chance to win and yet he’s still in the race beating up on Hillary Clinton. I mean, they’re the ones that are about to remove their chairman.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott was pushed Thursday to join a lawsuit filed by 11 other states over the Obama administration’s ordering school districts to permit transgender students to use their bathroom of choice.
Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger said Scott should show leadership and “protect our children” by adding Florida to the states challenging the interpretation that education’s Title IX law includes gender identity.
Attorney General Pam Bondi last week turned down a request from state Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, to issue an opinion on the constitutionality of the White House’s action.
Bondi wrote, “we do not issue legal opinions on federal law.” The move seemed to signal a reluctance on the part of Florida to weigh into the simmering issue.
While earlier staying quiet on the issue, Scott now is becoming more fiery.
He told reporters Wednesday at a jobs and education summit in Orlando that he was angered by the administration’s threat to withhold federal dollars from states that refused to comply with the so-called guidance letter.
“To me, it looks like just blackmail,” Scott said. “The federal government takes our tax dollars — because, remember, all their tax dollars are money that comes from our citizens all around this country — and then they give that back to us, and then they change the deal. And they say, ‘Oh, now we’re going to hold this money back from you.'”
Ingoglia, the first state party head to congratulate Trump after the Indiana win, was quick to congratulate him again today.
“The Republican Party of Florida would like to congratulate Donald Trump on surpassing the required number of delegates to clinch the Republican nominee for president. Throughout this primary Mr. Trump has generated a historic voter turnout and built an unstoppable momentum that dwarfs the efforts of the Democrats – a testament to voters’ eagerness for a new leader that will not promote the same failed policies of the last eight years,” Ingoglia said in a statement released by the party.
Barnett, the Palm Beach County GOP chairman, said he hopes today’s milestone will help the party unify.
“If there was any doubt left, it has to be gone now. He’s the nominee. You can take away the word ‘presumptive.’ I think it’s significant he reached the milestone before June,” Barnett said.
But within Barnett’s own party leadership, not everyone has climbed aboard the Trump Train. Former Tequesta councilman Calvin Turnquest, the chairman of the county GOP’s Black/African American Caucus, resigned his position this week because he said he can’t support Trump as the party’s nominee.
“Just because somebody puts an R beside their name doesn’t mean they’re a Republican or a conservative. Donald Trump in my opinion does not represent Republican or conservative values,” said Turnquest in an interview.
Barnett said he respects Turnquest’s position, but believes the number of Republicans who won’t support Trump is dwindling.
“Hopefully that ‘Never Trump’ movement will dissolve now that we have a nominee with the required number,” Barnett said.