Hastings, Deutch, Frankel endorse Terrie Rizzo for Florida Democratic chair

Palm Beach County Democratic U.S. Reps. (from left) Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings and Lois Frankel .

Palm Beach County’s three Democratic U.S. House members are backing Palm Beach County Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo‘s bid to become state party chairwoman.

Palm Beach County Democratic Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Rizzo today announced the support of Reps. Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach, Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach.

The Florida Democratic Party will vote Dec. 9 on a successor to Stephen Bittel, who resigned this month after being accused of inappropriate behavior toward women.

Four women are vying to replace Bittel: Rizzo, Brevard County Democratic Chairwoman Stacey Patel, Hillsborough County Democratic State Committeewoman Alma Gonzalez, and Service Employees International Union Florida President Monica Russo of Miami. Russo needs a change in state party bylaws to be eligible.

The four candidates meet tonight for a forum in Miami.

Click here to read more about the Democratic chairman’s race.


‘Compassionate capitalist’ John Morgan has ‘no clue’ on indie run for governor

Trial lawyer John Morgan talks about his distaste for the Democratic and Republican parties in a new video.

Trial lawyer John Morgan, until last week the target of much speculation as a potential Democratic candidate for Florida governor, said today he doesn’t fit in with Democrats or Republicans and currently has “no clue and no thoughts” about a potential independent run in 2018.

Morgan announced Friday he wouldn’t run as Democrat and would switch his voter registration to independent.

In a video posted on his Twitter account this afternoon, Morgan offered “some of my thoughts on what I was thinking before making my decision this past week.”

Morgan called himself a “compassionate capitalist” who is “somewhere in the middle” between Republicans and Democrats. He mentioned two Republican friends he says he often agrees with: Florida Senate President-designate Bill Galvano and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, though he specifically noted he differs with Corcoran’s support for charter schools.

Morgan faulted Republicans for pushing a tax reform plan in Congress that Morgan says will benefit the rich and blow up the national debt.

“These conservatives are not conservative at all,” Morgan said.

“The Democratic Party, it seems like just give away, give away, free, free, free,” Morgan said. “I’m a person that believes that you spend what you have and when you don’t have any more you stop spending.”

Morgan added: “People are asking me, ‘Are you going to run as an independent?’ I have no clue and no thoughts about that right now. I’m in my budget meetings right now for all my businesses.”




Palm Beach County’s Terrie Rizzo claims she’s nearly half-way to Florida Dem chair win

Palm Beach County Democratic Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County Democratic Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo claims she’s lined up “nearly” half the votes needed to become chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party.

But one of Rizzo’s rivals, Hillsborough County Democratic State Committeewoman Alma Gonzalez, says she expects a “very fluid process” between now and the party’s scheduled Dec. 9 election.

So far Rizzo, Gonzalez, Brevard County Democratic Chairwoman Stacey Patel and Service Employees International Union Florida President Monica Russo have said they want to replace former chairman Stephen Bittel, who abruptly resigned this month amid accusations of inappropriate behavior toward women.

Russo isn’t eligible to be state chair under current party rules, but will seek a bylaws change before the vote.

There are 1,204 possible votes for state chair, meaning a candidate would need 603 to win in the highly unlikely event that every eligible voter showed up for the Dec. 9 election.

Most votes are weighted by population (Miami-Dade County’s committeeman and committeewoman control 62 votes apiece, for example, while Palm Beach County Committeewoman Deidre Newton and Committeeman John Ramos get 41 each and tiny Hendry County’s representatives get only 1 apiece). There are also 178 votes controlled by elected officials. Sen. Bill Nelson gets 42 votes — 21 for himself or his proxy and 21 for his designee, former FDP Chairwoman Allison Tant. Nelson, who backed Bittel last year, hasn’t announced a preference.

Rizzo, who lives west of Boynton Beach and has chaired the county party since 2012, today announced 11 more endorsements. In all, she has been endorsed by 33 people who account for about 250 votes.

New Gillum campaign manager has Hillary Clinton past, Bernie Sanders flavor

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum at the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue gathering in Hollywood in June. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

After nearly five months without a campaign manager for his Florida gubernatorial bid, Democrat Andrew Gillum has tapped former Hillary Clinton Pennsylvania political director Brendan McPhillips to manage his campaign.

Tallahassee Mayor Gillum and former campaign manager Phillip Thompson parted ways in early July. Former Florida Democratic Party executive director Scott Arcenaux and Gillum’s communications director, Geoff Burgan, have been overseeing day-to-day operations for the Gillum campaign since then.

Gillum has fired up many Democratic liberals but lagged in fundraising behind three other Democrats in the governor’s race: former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Winter Park businessman Chris King and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

McPhillips managed the long shot 2016 Pennsylvania Senate bid of John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock (near Pittsburgh) who endorsed Bernie Sanders for president and got 19.5 percent of the Democratic primary vote. The Gillum campaign’s release announcing the McPhillips hire links to an article describing Fetterman as the “Bernie-inspired candidate” in the Pennsylvania Senate race.

After Pennsylvania’s April 2016 primary, McPhillips joined Clinton’s Pennsylvania campaign as political director. Pennsylvania, which hadn’t been carried by a Republican presidential nominee since 1988, narrowly went for Republican Donald Trump in 2016.

McPhillips indicated the Gillum campaign continue trying to court progressives in the Democratic race.

“I’m very excited to join Team Gillum this week. The Mayor has an unmatched progressive record, from beating the gun lobby in court to standing up against oil pipelines, and I know that in 2018 we are finally going to take back the Governor’s Mansion. We won’t get there by running Republican Lite — we have to be bold to convince this state that it is time to put a Democrat in charge again,” McPhillips said in a statement released by the Gillum campaign.

Berman rolls out big endorsements, Slosberg dismisses ‘political machine’ in special Senate race

A special election will fill the District 31 Senate seat vacated by former Sen. Jeff Clemens.

State Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, today rolled out several Democratic endorsements as she pursues the party’s nomination for a special state Senate election to replace Jeff Clemens in Palm Beach County.

State Rep. Lori Berman

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and former Democratic U.S. Reps. Robert Wexler (for whom Berman once worked) and Patrick Murphy are among those endorsing Berman as she vies against former state state Rep. Irving Slosberg and Arthur Morrison of West Palm Beach in a Jan. 30 primary. The seat is open because Clemens resigned in October after admitting to an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.

Republican Party Vice Chairwoman Tami Donnally is also running for the heavily Democratic seat. The general election is April 10 — after the regular 2018 legislative session ends.

Berman, serving her fourth term in the state House, announced endorsements from 27 state lawmakers, including Palm Beach County Democratic state Sens. Bobby Powell and Kevin Rader and state Rep. Matt Willhite of Wellington.

“Lori is a true progressive leader, a tireless fighter for women’s rights, and will make an excellent State Senator. I am proud to endorse her,” said Deutch.

Former state Rep. Irving Slosberg

Slosberg downplayed Berman’s endorsements.

“It’s Irv Slosberg vs. the political machine — again,” Slosberg said.

Slosberg took on the Democratic machine and won in 2000, ousting former Rep. Curt Levine to win a House seat. The machine got its revenge in 2006 when Deutch, making his first run for office, got the backing of many party leaders and defeated Slosberg in a state Senate primary. Slosberg won a House seat again in 2010, but left in 2016 to challenge the party establishment again; he lost a bid to unseat incumbent Sen. Clemens.

Said Slosberg: “I just want the endorsements of the people.”




Trump in Palm Beach: Name that golf motorcade

President Donald Trump’s motorcade on Summit Boulevard near Trump International Golf Club on four separate days over the past week. Can you tell which day is which? Answers below. (Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump may not be a conventional politician, but he’s a fairly predictable guy when he visits his winter White House at Mar-a-Lago.

On each of the five days he’s been in town on his current Thanksgiving trip, the president has visited one of his Palm Beach County golf courses.

He went to Trump International Golf Club on Summit Boulevard in West Palm Beach on Wednesday and again on Thanksgiving Day, then mixed things up a little by going to Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter on Friday before returning to Trump International on Saturday and again this morning.

Quiz answers: In the above photos of Trump’s four trips to Trump International by acclaimed Palm Beach Post lensman Greg Lovett, Wednesday’s visit is top left, Saturday’s is top right, today’s is bottom left and Thursday’s is bottom right.


Trump in Palm Beach with Alabama and Roy Moore on his mind

President Donald Trump’s motorcade rolls west on Southern Boulevard this morning en route to Trump International Golf Club. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump began his day with a pair of tweets promoting Republican Roy Moore in the upcoming Alabama Senate election — without mentioning the name of the GOP nominee who’s been accused of sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl  and making overtures to other teenagers in the 1970s.

Trump is wrapping up a five-day Thanksgiving trip to his Mar-a-Lago estate. He’s visiting his Trump International Golf Club in unincorporated West Palm Beach this morning — the fifth consecutive day he’s been there or his Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter.

“The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES TAXES TO THE SKY. Jones would be a disaster!” Trump tweeted at 8:52 a.m., shortly before leaving Mar-a-Lago for the golf course.

“Jones” is Democratic nominee Doug Jones, who’s trying to become the first Democratic senator in deep-red Alabama since Howell Heflin left office in 1997. The special election is Dec. 12.

Moments after the presidential motorcade arrived at the golf club, Trump tweeted about the Alabama race again.

“I endorsed Luther Strange in the Alabama Primary. He shot way up in the polls but it wasn’t enough. Can’t let Schumer/Pelosi win this race. Liberal Jones would be BAD!” Trump tweeted.

Moore defeated Strange in a special GOP primary in September. He was considered a lock to keep the seat for Republicans until The Washington Post reported that four women said Moore pursued them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s in the 1970s. Moore has denied any inappropriate conduct.

“Roy Moore denies it. And, by the way, he gives a total denial. And I do have to say, 40 years is a long time,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday in Washington before heading to Palm Beach.

Trump in Palm Beach: Nicklaus latest famous name to join president on golf course

How big a deal is Jack Nicklaus? In 2014, Florida Gov. Rick Scott was relegated to the role of picture-taker when Scott and Nicklaus visited a Boca Raton restaurant during a Scott campaign swing. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

With North Palm Beach resident Jack Nicklaus reportedly joining President Donald Trump on the links Saturday after Jupiter Island man Tiger Woods golfed with the president on Friday, Trump has played golf with the winners of 32 major championships during his Thanksgiving trip to Palm Beach.

Nicklaus has won a record 18 majors. Woods is second with 14 wins in majors (The Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship).

Trump has visited one of his golf courses on four straight days during his latest trip to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. Will he make it a fifth? Follow www.palmbeachpost.com all day for updates on the president’s visit before he departs for Washington this afternoon.

Nicklaus and his son Gary joined the president at Trump International Golf Club in unincorporated West Palm Beach on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

On Friday, Woods joined the president at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter along with Dustin Johnson — currently the No. 1 ranked player on the PGA tour — and PGA pro Brad Faxon.

Faxon wrote about the experience for Golfweek, saying he was nervous about golfing with the president “but he immediately puts you at ease.”

Other famous names to join Trump on the golf course since he became president include: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (at Trump International and in Japan); Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins; future NFL Hall of Famer and Nationwide Insurance pitchman Peyton Manning; professional golfers Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy; and U.S. Sens. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Bob Corker, R-Tennessee.



John Morgan rules out Democratic bid for Florida governor; is indie run possible?

John Morgan at a 2014 event supporting medical marijuana (Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun)

Trial lawyer John Morgan who has topped at least one poll for the Democratic nomination for Florida governor in 2018 — told Twitter followers this morning he won’t seek the party’s nomination.

Morgan, the state’s leading advocate for medical marijuana legalization, dangled the possibility of an independent bid in a subsequent tweet.

“Spent all of Thanksgiving with my whole family. While it’s amazing to be leading the polls for Governor without being a candidate I can’t muster the enthusiasm to run for the nomination,” Morgan tweeted at 9:56 a.m.

In a subsequent tweet, Morgan added: “And I can’t muster enthusiasm for any of today’s politicians. They are all the same. Both parties. I plan to register as an Independent and when I vote, vote for the lesser of two evils. And if I ever ran, run as an Independent. #ForThePeople.”

Morgan has been a huge wild card in the Democratic race. The Lake Mary resident has never run for office, but has been active in politics as a Democratic fundraiser and the prime mover behind the successful 2014 medical marijuana amendment to the Florida constitution. He also has high name recognition through his statewide Morgan & Morgan personal injury law firm.

A September poll by the Florida Chamber of Commerce found Morgan leading the field of potential and declared Democratic candidates for governor with 23 percent, followed by former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham at 16 percent. Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Winter Park businessman Chris King and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine have opened Democratic campaigns for governor.

The Republican field includes Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, expected to open campaigns as well.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott faces term limits in 2018.


Trump in Palm Beach: Rare confirmation about presidential golf outing

President Donald Trump in his private citizen days of 2011 playing golf at his Trump International Golf Club outside West Palm Beach. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump, beginning his third full day at his Mar-a-Lago estate this morning, made a rare revelation on Twitter.

Trump and the White House are usually secretive about whether he’s playing golf or who he’s playing with. But today, the president announced he’ll be playing golf “quickly” with Jupiter Island resident Tiger Woods and PGA star Dustin Johnson.

Based on an FAA advisory, the president and Woods and Johnson appear likely to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter rather than Trump International Golf Club near West Palm Beach, where the president usually plays.

Click here for complete coverage of President Trump in Palm Beach.

Trump and Woods played golf last December at Trump International while Trump was president-elect. Since becoming president, Trump’s golf partners have included Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, future NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and professional golfers Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee have also joined Trump on the links.