Brian Mast snags $355,835 for re-election bid; Frankel war chest nears $1 million

Brian Mast talks to voters at a 2016 Republican candidate forum in Stuart .

Freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, collected $355,835 in campaign contributions during the first quarter of 2017 to begin his defense of a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast House seat that is usually a battleground between Republicans and Democrats.


Mast began April with $409,636 in cash on hand for his 2018 re-election effort.


While Mast had a healthy haul, another Florida freshman in a competitive seat — Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg — raised $720,604 during the first quarter. In what could be Florida’s most contested House seat next year, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, raised $613,623 for the quarter.


Other Palm Beach County House members:


• Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, raised $206,046 and has $926,542 in cash on hand.


• Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, raised $51,772 and has $260,717 on hand.


• Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, raised $28,855 and has $83,156 on hand.

How red or blue is your congressional district? New report shows Trump, Clinton seats

Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation for the 115th Congress, clockwise from top left: Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City; Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach; Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.

Palm Beach County voters have been known to split their tickets — most recently in 2012 and 2014 when Democrat Patrick Murphy was elected in a House district carried by Republicans Mitt Romney and Rick Scott.


But in the 115th Congress, Palm Beach County’s congressional seats are like those of more than 90 percent of the House: Democrats represent three districts carried by Hillary Clinton last year and the delegation’s lone Republican holds a district carried by Donald Trump.


That’s according to the latest Cook Political Report “Partisan Voting Index” rankings, which rate all 435 U.S. House district by how favorable they are to Democrats or the GOP.


Palm Beach County’s congressional districts.

The new PVI ratings show that voters in only 35 of 435 House districts picked a member of Congress from a different party than the district’s presidential choice. That includes 23 districts that voted for Clinton but picked a Republican House member and 12 that voted for Trump but sent a Democrat to Capitol Hill.


Palm Beach County’s lone Republican — freshman Rep. Brian Mast of Palm City — represents a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast district with a PVI rating of +5 Republican. That means that over the last two presidential elections, Mast’s District 18 has voted Republican by an average of 5 points more than the national average.


Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, represents a Palm Beach-Broward District 22 with a +6 Democratic rating. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, holds a + 9 Democratic seat in District 21 and Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, holds one of the safest Democratic seats in all of Congress, with a +31 Democratic score for his District 20.


Two Miami Republicans — Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — represent districts carried by Clinton.


Curbelo’s district has a +6 Democratic rating — making it the most Democrat-friendly district held by a Republican in the House. Still, the Cook report classifies Curbelo’s seat as “lean Republican” in its early rankings of approximately 60 seats that are expected to be the most competitive in 2018.


Ros-Lehtinen’s district has a +5 Democratic rating.  The Democrat who holds the most Republican-leaning seat in the House is Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, whose district has a +12 Republican score.





George Soros, Jane Fonda, Norman Lear help Dem Andrew Gillum governor bid

Hedge fund billionaire George Soros and his son gave a combined $150,000 to a committee supporting Democrat Andrew Gillum for governor. (Soros photo by Kevin Wolf/AP)

With significant help from some of the biggest names in American liberalism, Tallahasee Mayor Andrew Gillum raised $765,000 in his first month as a Democratic candidate for governor, his campaign says.


Gillum announced  his candidacy last month. His Gillum for Governor committee raised $243,000 and his Forward Florida political committee raised $522,000, a Gillum spokesman said.


Billionaire George Soros gave $100,000 last week to Gillum’s Forward Florida committee and son Alex Soros chipped in another $50,000. TV producer and People For The American Way founder Norman Lear gave $50,000 to the committee and actress Jane Fonda contributed $7,000, according to a report filed by Forward Florida.


Gillum’s campaign says it also has grass roots support, including more than 3,500 online contributions averaging about $60 and donors from 56 of Florida’s 67 counties.


The other Democrat who has opened a campaign, Orlando-area businessman Chris King,  has raised more than $500,000 from contributors and added $1 million of his own money, according to his campaign. King’s fundraising figure includes $181,000 raised by his campaign itself and $325,000 raised by his Rise and Lead, Florida, a committee set up last month.


Gillum and King are among several Democrats who could run in 2018, when Republican Gov. Rick Scott faces term limits (and is expected to run for the seat of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson).


Neither Gillum nor King is well-known statewide, so raising early money is crucial to build recognition across America’s third-largest state.






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


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.

See the new pro-Donald Trump TV ad airing in Florida

A super PAC supporting President Donald Trump has begun running ads in Florida and nine other states, Bloomberg News reports, with the apparent aim of rallying Trump voters against Sen. Bill Nelson and other Democratic senators on the ballot next year.


Making America Great is spending $1 million on TV and $300,000 on digital ads in 10 states and Washington, D.C.


The 30-second spot touts job growth, withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and executive orders reducing Environmental Protection Agency regulations and approving the Keystone XL Pipeline as examples of “Results not common in Washington, D.C…And it’s only just begun.”


The ads are appearing in states that Trump carried in 2016 and where a Democratic senator is up for re-election in 2018. Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percent last November in Florida; Nelson will seek a fourth Senate term in the Sunshine State next year.

2018: Andrew Gillum endorsed by longtime Palm Beach County Dem

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has been endorsed by Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon in the Democratic 2018 race for governor.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum‘s Democratic campaign for governor has picked up an early endorsement from Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon — a longtime player in local Democratic politics who should help open doors for the little-known Gillum in one of Florida’s bluest counties.


Gillum, who opened a campaign for governor this month, is one of several Democrats eyeing the 2018 governor’s race, when incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott faces term limits.


Gannon has held elected office since 2000, when she won the first of three state House terms. She’s won four countywide elections as tax collector and was county chairwoman of Hillary Clinton‘s campaign last year.


“As a local elected official, I know firsthand the challenges facing Floridians, from an economy that has disproportionately led to low-wage jobs, an education system that is overly reliant on high-stakes testing, and a lack of 21st century infrastructure,” Gannon’s endorsement statement says.


“I deal with these problems on a daily basis, and it is my calling to ensure I’m improving on them for my constituents, and not playing politics-as-usual like our Governor and Republican Legislature. I endorse Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for Governor because he has the experience and vision to make life better for every one of my constituents. Mayor Gillum has made Tallahassee a great place to raise a family, start a business, and put children on the path to success. I enthusiastically endorse him and look forward to sharing his experience and vision with my constituents.”


Central Florida businessman Chris King has also opened a Democratic campaign. Other Democrats eyeing the race include former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and deep-pocketed trial lawyer John Morgan. Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene has also been mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate and hasn’t definitively ruled out running.


Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is expected to seek the GOP nomination and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-o’-Lakes, is also a potential Republican candidate.





Scott praises Gorsuch, urges foes (cc: Bill Nelson) to ‘stop playing games’

Gov. Rick Scott and President Donald Trump in the White House last month.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott praises President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court in a Miami Herald letter to the editor today.


Nelson and Gorsuch.

Scott, who faces gubernatorial term limits next year and is expected to run for the seat of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, doesn’t mention Nelson in the letter. But a day after Nelson announced his opposition to Gorsuch and support for a filibuster to block an up-or-down vote, Scott accuses Gorsuch’s opponents of engaging in petty politics.


“Future Supreme Court battle will shape our lives as American citizens,” Scott writes. “And, while many in the Senate seem to take delight in challenging President Trump’s appointments for no reason of any discernable value to their constituents, that should not be done for Judge Gorsuch. Let’s stop playing games in Washington. Let’s get something done.”

Tom Rooney rips Bill Nelson on Gorsuch; ‘weighing all his options for 2018’

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson‘s announcement Monday that he opposes President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court drew immediate fire from Republicans.


Sen. Bill Nelson says he’ll vote against Judge Neil Gorsuch. (Nelson photo by Rich Graulich/Palm Beach Post; Gorsuch vote by Susan Walsh/AP)

One interesting Nelson critic: U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, who briefly considered a 2016 Senate run.


Rooney put out a statement through his House office saying he is “extremely disappointed, though utterly unsurprised, that Senator Nelson would put political posturing above the needs of the American people…He should be ashamed of himself and I hope Florida voters replace him next year in the 2018 election.”


Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott is widely expected to run for Nelson’s seat in 2018. In 2015, Rooney considered entering the 2016 Senate race if Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t seek re-election. Part of the reason he entertained a 2016 run, Rooney said, was his belief that it would be “bad timing” to run in 2018 if Scott was in the race.


Asked today about his 2018 plans, Rooney spokeswoman Meghan Rodgers said: “He is weighing all his options for 2018 and doesn’t know for sure what he is doing yet. Yesterday’s press release had nothing to do with 2018 and simply was in response to Nelson’s statement on Gorsuch.”


Bill Nelson: No on Gorsuch, yes to Democratic filibuster

Sen. Bill Nelson says he’ll vote against Judge Neil Gorsuch. (Nelson photo by Rich Graulich/Palm Beach Post; Gorsuch vote by Susan Walsh/AP)

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson announced today he opposes President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.


And Nelson said he will support Democratic attempts to use a filibuster to block a vote on Gorsuch.


“Deciding whether to confirm a president’s nominee for the highest court in the land is a responsibility I take very seriously,” Nelson said in a statement released by his office this afternoon.


“Over the past few weeks, I have met with Judge Gorsuch, listened to the Judiciary Committee’s hearings and reviewed his record with an open mind. I have real concerns with his thinking on protecting the right to vote and allowing unlimited money in political campaigns. In addition, the judge has consistently sided with corporations over employees, as in the case of a freezing truck driver who, contrary to common sense, Judge Gorsuch would have allowed to be fired for abandoning his disabled rig during extreme weather conditions.”


Nelson added: “I will vote no on the motion to invoke cloture and, if that succeeds, I will vote no on his confirmation.”


With Nelson up for re-election next year in a state Trump narrowly carried in 2016, the National Republican Senatorial Committee was quick to criticize his announcement.


“Senator Bill Nelson proved to Floridians today that he no longer shares their values, and instead is more politically aligned with the liberal elite of Washington,” said NRSC spokeswoman Katie Martin. “Nelson has been in Washington too long and his move to ignore the will of voters in Florida will cost him his job in 2018.”






Melissa McKinlay begins fundraising for 2018 commission re-election bid

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay on election night in 2014 (Bill Ingram/The Palm Beach Post)

Democratic Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who quietly opened a re-election campaign for her western-county District 6 seat earlier this month, has begun hitting up supporters for campaign cash.


She’s the first commission candidate to open a 2018 campaign. McKinlay’s seat and two others will be on the ballot next year. District 2 Commissioner Paulette Burdick and District 4 Commissioner Steven Abrams face term limits in 2018.


McKinlay was elected to the commission in 2014. In 2015, she opened a campaign for Congress — then pulled out of the race after deep-pocketed businessman Randy Perkins got in. Perkins won the Democratic nomination but lost to Republican Brian Mast.


A McKinlay fundraising email says she hopes to raise $38,000 by April 30. The election is more than 19 months away, but, her email says, “this is an important time to show potential challengers that we are up to the task – and that you are on my side.”