Constitution Revision Commission to meet at FIU, FAU

Carlos Beruff

The Constitution Revision Commission will hold a pair of public meetings today and Friday, giving residents in South Florida a chance to weigh in on whether and how the state’s constitution should be changed.

Today’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at Florida International University’s Student Academic Success Center in Miami.

Friday’s meeting begins at 9 a.m. at Florida Atlantic University’s Acura Club, which is located in the university’s football stadium in Boca Raton.

The meetings are free and open to the public.

“We were pleased to see 400 Floridians attend our first public hearing in Orlando,” CRC Chairman Carlos Beruff said. “Given the public interest in speaking before the CRC, we have found new spaces on the FIU and FAU campuses that can hold even more participants. I encourage all interested Floridians in the greater Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County areas to come make their voices heard on April 6 at FIU in Miami and on April 7 at FAU in Boca Raton.”

Although polls show no contest, Murphy, Rubio running hard to primary finish line

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

Polls would suggest that Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republican Marco Rubio are on a glide path toward their parties’ U.S. Senate nominations in Tuesday’s primary.

But the two front-runners are driving hard toward the finish line.

Rubio, seeking a second term, has four appearances planned today in Lee County’s Cape Coral, Lynn Haven in Bay County, Pensacola and Miami. They’re designed to rally supporters and get-out-the-vote in what is certain to prove a low-turnout primary.

Murphy, the Jupiter congressman who has drawn support from the White House and much of the Democratic establishment, has appearances planned in Tampa with incoming state House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz and later, in Orlando, with that city’s mayor, Buddy Dyer.

Murphy’s leading rival is U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, in a field of five Democrats on Tuesday’s ballot. Rubio faces three rivals Tuesday, with the closest competitor Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff, who has spent about $8 million of his own money but remains far back in most polls.

Poll shows Florida’s U.S. Senate race a contest in November; August primary? No so much

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

The latest poll in Florida’s U.S. Senate race echoes most earlier surveys: The August primaries are no contest, but November could prove interesting.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter and Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio hold overwhelming leads in their bids for their respective party’s nomination Tuesday. But if the pair square off in November, the race could be tight, according to Mason-Dixon Polling & Research’s poll released Thursday.

Rubio holds a within-the-margin-of-error 46 percent to 43 percent lead over Murphy among general election voters, the survey of 625 registered Florida voters shows. The telephone survey was conducted Monday through Wednesday and has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.

In crowded primary fields, Rubio holds a 39 percent lead over his nearest rival, Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff, who has spent about $8 million of his own money in the campaign, while Murphy tops closest contender, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando, by 33 percent, the survey shows.

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

Support for Rubio and Murphy fall along traditional lines. White voters, men and North Floridians like Rubio, while Murphy draws support from women and those living in South Florida.

But in a sign of potential trouble for Murphy, Rubio is stronger among Hispanics and across the crowded Interstate-4 corridor of mid-Florida, the toss-up region where elections are often decided.


Donald Trump 44% Hillary Clinton 41% in new Florida Chamber poll

Donald Trump holds a within-the-margin-of-error lead over Hillary Clinton in a new Florida poll.
Donald Trump holds a within-the-margin-of-error lead over Hillary Clinton in a new Florida poll.

Donald Trump has a within-the-margin-of-error lead over Hillary Clinton in the Sunshine State according to a new Florida Chamber of Commerce poll.


Part-time Palm Beacher Trump — who campaigned in Tampa on Wednesday — holds a 44-to-43 percent lead in a head-to-head matchup with Clinton; Trump has a 44-to-41 percent edge when Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein are thrown in.


The Aug. 17-22 survey of 608 likely Florida voters has a 4 percent margin of error.


A Florida Atlantic University poll also gave Trump a lead within the margin of error over Clinton this week while a Saint Leo University poll showed Clinton enjoying a 14-point advantage in Florida.


The Florida Chamber’s new poll also finds Republican Sen. Marco Rubio holding a 68-to-19 percent lead over primary challenger Carlos Beruff heading into Tuesday’s GOP primary. Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter leads Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando by a 40-to-11 percent margin heading into the Democratic Senate primary.



Mosquito-borne virus gives Murphy, Rubio plenty to swat at — politically

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

While Zika virus cases continue to mount in Florida, little changed Tuesday in the continuing battle between Democrats and Republicans over federal funding to combat the mosquito-borne illness.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter joined with NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue to blast Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for failing to resolve the standoff over dollars.

Murphy echoed what has been a weekslong cry from Democrats for Republican leadership to end the summer recess, reconvene Congress and approve President Obama’s proposed $1.9 billion for Zika.

Murphy also ridiculed Rubio for campaigning on the strength of his ties to Republican leadership

“He should be using that clout to actually get something done,” said Murphy, who hopes to unseat Rubio in November. But first, both men have primary contests next Tuesday.

The Republican-led House and Senate failed to resolve differences over Zika funding before breaking for recess just before the July 4 holiday. The call for reconvening has become mostly academic now — with Congress expected back in a couple weeks, right after Labor Day.

But there’s no sign of the Zika deadlock breaking.

House Republicans have been clamoring to include new limits on funding for Planned Parenthood in any Zika legislation, a move fiercely opposed by Democrats who want additional dollars for the organization. Murphy acknowledged Tuesday that there’s been little reach-out between the dueling sides over the summer recess.

And Rubio has drawn heat from Planned Parenthood, NARAL and others for recently saying he did not think that women infected with the Zika virus should have access to abortions, to avoid the risk of severe birth defects.

“Women are desperate for actual solutions from our government,” Hogue said during a conference call with reporters. “Unfortunately, when women look to D.C. right now, it is empty.”

On the campaign trail, Rubio has said he’d support a “clean” bill for Zika funding.

A Rubio spokesman, Michael Ahrens, said the senator has supported calls for leadership to bring Congress back to the Capitol. He also chided Murphy for voting against Zika legislation — Republican-backed — that went before him in the House.




Last full week of campaigning before primary begins, with focus on getting voters to…

But candidates – and allied groups – are struggling to make sure they don’t.

Unions, faith-based groups, political committees and the candidates themselves are pouring campaign dollars into get-out-the-vote efforts in this, the last full week of campaigning before the dog-days-of-summer Florida primary.

Florida Division of Elections statistics show primary turnout has been paltry during the past decade, in the 18-22 percent range. So, up and down the ballot, the candidates who can get their supporters to the polls are the ones likely to shape whether there’s a November general election in their future.

Topping the ballots for registered Democrats and Republicans is Florida’s U.S. Senate primary, a contest drawing dueling attention from the White House and Republican Senate leadership.

“What’s scary to me is just how low primary turnout is,” said U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Jupiter Democrat who is among five candidates seeking that party’s nomination for U.S. Senate.

Murphy has spent a lot of time courting union support, whose ability to push members, their families and friends to the polls could prove critical, he acknowledged.

“I want to make sure they’re helping me get out our vote,” Murphy said.

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It’s official: Plug pulled on TV debate among Republican U.S. Senate candidates

A TV debate planned among Republican U.S. Senate candidates is officially off.
A TV debate planned among Republican U.S. Senate candidates is officially off.

Palm Beach Atlantic University made it official Tuesday — cancelling a debate planned next week between Florida’s Republican candidates for U.S. Senate.

The Lemieux Center for Public Policy at PBAU had planned to host the debate Aug. 23, a week before voters choose the Republican and Democratic nominees. It was to be broadcast around the state.

But since U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio reversed course and decided to run for re-election, most of the original GOP field has dropped out of the race.

Rubio also is giving his leading opponent, Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff, the cold shoulder when the underdog calls for debates. The same is true on the Democratic side, where U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter refuses to debate top rival U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando.

No debates are planned before the primary.

The Lemieux Center is named for George Lemieux, who former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist appointed in 2009 as a 16-month, place-holder for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by then U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez.

Rubio took the Republican nomination from Crist and later won the U.S. Senate seat in 2010.

Rubio defends traditional marriage, but urges conservatives to embrace “LGBT neighbors”

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

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio defended traditional marriage but urged religious conservatives to accept gay, lesbian and transgender families as neighbors in a speech Friday to evangelicals in Orlando.

Rubio spoke to the Florida Renewal Project even as LGBT protestors demonstrated nearby, condemning the visits of Rubio and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump a day earlier.

The appearances coincided with the two-month anniversary of the shootings at the Pulse nightclub, which killed 49 people.

“I want to be clear with you, abandoning judgment and loving our LGBT neighbors is not a betrayal of what the Bible teaches, it is a fulfillment of it,” Rubio told those gathered at the Orange County Convention Center.

Rubio also said that although “we stand firm in the belief that marriage is the union between one man and one woman, there are those in that community and in same-sex relationships whose love for one another is real.”

Rubio also recalled that the LGBT and religious communities united in grief and prayer following the massacre at Pulse. But he pointed out that a speaker at that prayer rally at Orlando’s First Baptist Church acknowledged that many gay, lesbian and transgender people had felt shut by the religious community for most of their lives.

“Sadly, many of them had come to believe because of what they heard in the press, because of what they read, because of what somebody told them, that Christianity had no place for them,” Rubio said.

“And if any of us, myself included, in any way, have ever made anyone feel that Christianity wants nothing to do with them, then I believe deeply that we have failed deeply to represent our Lord Jesus Christ who time and again went out of his way to reach out to the marginalized and to the forgotten of his time.”


U.S. Senate candidate Beruff: vote for me, not “career politician” Rubio

Beruff (r)

Send me to the U.S. Senate instead of “career politician” Marco Rubio, candidate Carlos Beruff told a gathering west of Lake Worth on Thursday.

“You have to decide not to continue to send people to Washington who have been career politicians,” the Sarasota-area homebuilder told about 30 people at the Bellagio Republican Club, “or you’re not going to change the dynamics of the future of this country.”

Beruff, 58, is one of three Republicans challenging incumbent Rubio Aug. 30 in Florida’s GOP primary.

Beruff conceded he’s 12 points behind Rubio in polls but said his standing has moved up 13 points in the last few weeks. He said three other polls show him 1 or 2 points behind Democrat Patrick Murphy in a general election.

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Rubio’s re-election bid gets murkier — poll says race with Murphy “too close to call”

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

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s re-election chances against Democrat Patrick Murphy are too close to call although he holds a more comfortable lead over  Murphy’s primary rival, Alan Grayson, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows.

Rubio’s three percentage point lead on Murphy, a Jupiter congressman, is within the margin-of-error in the survey released Thursday. Rubio would top Grayson, who represents the Orlando area in Congress, by six percent.

Just last month, the university’s poll gave Rubio a robust, 13-point lead over Murphy and a 12-point edge on Grayson.

Quinnipiac University Poll’s assistant director, Peter Brown, said Rubio could be getting hurt by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s stumbles on the national stage. Trump, though, is tied with Democrat Hillary Clinton in Florida in the school’s most recent poll released earlier this week.

In Thursday’s survey, Rubio is running strongest among white male voters. He also out-performs Democrats among independent voters.

“Sen. Rubio’s 10-point lead among independent voters over Congressman Patrick Murphy and his eight-point edge over Congressman Alan Grayson is the Republican’s best weapon in his re-election race,” Brown said.

Murphy and Grayson are among five Democrats squaring off in the Aug. 30 primary for their party’s nomination. Rubio’s leading primary rival is Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff, who has spent more than $7 million of his own money in the race.

Quinnipiac’s survey shows that either Murphy or Grayson would easily beat Beruff.

Quinnipiac polled on Senate races in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio — the biggest battleground states. Republican Sen. Rob Portman holds a comfortable lead in Ohio over former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, while in Pennsylvania, Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, also is in a toss-up race with Democrat Katie McGinty.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,056 Florida voters from July 30 through Aug. 7 and the poll has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus three percent.