Mast didn’t think Kozell’s sugar attack was sweet

Rick Kozell turned a question on another topic into an attack on Brian Mast during a debate taping Wednesday night between Republican candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives District 18 seat.

Kozell, a small business owner, insinuated that Mast was in the pocket of the sugar industry.

Republican congressional candidate Rick Kozell
Republican congressional candidate Rick Kozell

Mast, a special forces veteran who lost both legs during an IED explosion in Afghanistan, didn’t take too kindly to the suggestion, using a break in taping to call Kozell “a P.O.S.” (That’d be piece of blankety-blank).

“I was completely taken aback by his comments,” Mast said after the debate, which will be aired by The Palm Beach Post’s news partner, WPTV Channel 5, during its To the Point show on Sunday at 10 a.m. “I was very surprised.”

Kozell didn’t relent during the debate, saying Mast accepted contributions from the sugar industry and raised more money during a fundraiser hosted by someone in the industry. Mast said he returned the sugar money and raised “very little” during the fundraiser.

Brian Mast
Brian Mast

 

Who’s attacking whom in final days of GOP primary for Patrick Murphy seat

Republican District 18 congressional candidates (from left) Carl Domino, Rick Kozell, Brian Mast, Mark Freeman and Rebecca Negron at an April forum in Stuart . (George Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Republican District 18 congressional candidates (from left) Carl Domino, Rick Kozell, Brian Mast, Mark Freeman and Rebecca Negron at an April forum in Stuart . (George Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

Republican congressional rivals Brian Mast and Rick Kozell went after each other on camera — and off — during a Wednesday night debate taping at Palm Beach Post news partner WPTV Channel 5.

 

A pro-Mast political action committee, meanwhile, reported to the Federal Election Commission this week that it spent $10,613 on mailers opposing Rebecca Negron, the Martin County school board member and wife of powerful state Sen. Joe Negron who’s seen by many as the front runner in the six-candidate GOP primary for Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional District 18.

 

Rebecca Negron, targeted by at least three of her GOP primary rivals, takes aim at two of them in this mail piece.
Rebecca Negron, targeted by at least three of her GOP primary rivals, takes aim at two of them in this mail piece.

Kozell also takes a shot at Negron in a TV ad that began airing last week.

 

A PAC backing Republican candidate Mark Freeman this week reported spending $6,800 on mailers opposing Negron and Mast. Freeman on Monday reported pouring another $70,000 of his own money into his campaign, bringing his total personal investment in the race to more than $1.6 million.

 

While Kozell, Mast and Freeman have spent money to go after Negron, one of Negron’s campaign mailers takes aim at Mast and Freeman.

 

Negron was the only Republican not to attend Wednesday night’s debate taping.

 

The National Republican Congressional Committee is officially neutral in the GOP primary. But it has reported spending $55,000 this week on digital ads and research opposing Randy Perkins, the Democratic establishment favorite in next week’s Democratic primary for District 18.

Dem Randy Perkins, GOP’s Rebecca Negron to miss only TV debate in congressional District 18

WPTV's Michael Williams, here interviewing Jeb Bush in New Hampshire, will moderate the Republican and Democratic debates for congressional District 18 candidates.
WPTV’s Michael Williams, here interviewing Jeb Bush in New Hampshire, will moderate the Republican and Democratic debates for congressional District 18 candidates.

Democrat Randy Perkins and Republican Rebecca Negron will skip the only televised debates before next week’s primaries in the nationally watched race for Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional District 18.

 

WPTV Channel 5 is taping separate Democratic and Republican debate segments Wednesday night in West Palm Beach. The debates, moderated by news anchor Michael Williams, will air Sunday at 10 a.m. on the NBC affiliate. The Democratic and Republican primaries are next Tuesday, Aug. 30.

 

Democrat Randy Perkins and Republican Rebecca Negron say prior commitments prevent them from appearing in Wednesday's debates.
Democrat Randy Perkins and Republican Rebecca Negron say prior commitments prevent them from appearing in Wednesday’s debates.

WPTV says Democrats Jonathan Chane and John (Juan) Xuna have confirmed they’ll attend, as have five Republicans seeking the seat: Carl Domino, Mark Freeman, Rick Kozell, Brian Mast and Noelle Nikpour.

 

Both Perkins and Negron cited prior campaign commitments in declining WPTV’s invitation.

 

The District 18 race is expected to be one of the most hotly contested in the country this year.

 

Republicans hold a 38.1-to-34.6 percent registration edge over Democrats in the district. But Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter was elected there in 2012 and 2014. With Murphy running for U.S. Senate this year, both parties have made the District 18 race a top priority this year.

 

 

Republican PAC to make $1.3 million ad buy in race for Patrick Murphy House seat

Republican congressional District 18 candidates (top row, left to right): Carl Domino, Mark Freeman, Rick Kozell, (bottom row, left to right): Brian Mast, Rebecca Negron, Noelle Nikpour
Republican congressional District 18 candidates (top row, left to right): Carl Domino, Mark Freeman, Rick Kozell, (bottom row, left to right): Brian Mast, Rebecca Negron, Noelle Nikpour

Whoever wins the six-candidate Republican primary in Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional District 18 can expect a $1.3 million shot of TV and digital advertising from House GOP leadership in October.

 

The Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC announced today that it has budgeted $1.32 million for TV and digital ads starting Oct. 18 in the West Palm Beach media market. The CLF is the political action committee endorsed by House Republican leadership to try to protect the GOP’s majority in the House.

 

District 18 has a slight Republican lean in registrations but has been held since 2013 by Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.

 

With Murphy leaving the seat to run for Senate, District 18 is one of the top GOP pickup targets in the nation. Six Republicans, three Democrats and a no-party candidate are running. Republican and Democratic nominees will be selected in the Aug. 30 primaries.

 

CLF announced the $1.3 million ad buy as part of an initial $10 million in ad spending aimed at 12 of the most competitive House districts in the U.S. The only other Florida race on CLF’s list: Rep. Carlos Curbelo‘s tough re-election fight in Miami-to-Key West District 25. CLF has reserved $1.7 million in ads there.

 

 

 

Rick Kozell slams Rebecca Negron’s ‘sweetheart’ deal 7 times in 90 seconds

Rick Kozell and Rebecca Negron at a League of Women Voters forum on Wednesday.
Rick Kozell and Rebecca Negron at a League of Women Voters forum on Wednesday.

For the second time in three days, Republican congressional candidate Rick Kozell used a candidate forum to blast GOP primary rival Rebecca Negron for accepting more than $86,000 from contributors linked to a company that benefitted from legislation pushed by her husband in Tallahassee.

 

Kozell called it a “sweetheart deal.”

 

In fact, in a virtuoso display of message discipline, Kozell used “sweetheart” as an adjective seven times in 90 seconds during a St. Lucie County League of Women Voters forum on Wednesday. (The spree begins around the 1:05:00 mark on the video.)

 

 

Kozell mentioned “sweetheart dealmaking,” “sweetheart deals,” “sweetheart deal,” “sweetheart legislation,” “sweetheart deal proceeds,” “sweetheart dealmaking” and “sweetheart deal proceeds” to describe the $86,200 Negron received at the end of March from contributors linked to MCNA Dental. The checks rolled in after her husband, state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, sponsored a bill — favored by dentists and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support — that opens the door for Florida to implement a Medicaid prepaid dental health program for children in 2019.

 

Kozell made similar accusations at a news conference last week and at a forum on Monday night in Stuart.

 

Rebecca Negron dismissed Kozell’s accusations.

 

“I am honored to have the support of people in my community and the people who have contributed to my campaign…I’m very honored to have a grass-roots support,” she said.

 

As to all the “sweetheart” accusations, she said, “I am also a very principled conservative, will not be beholden to anyone and have made no promises to anyone.”

 

She also pointed to her service on the Martin County school board.

 

“You can ask anybody who has observed those meetings, they know I am a principled conservative and stand for what is right,” Negron said.

 

 

 

N.C. Sen. Richard Burr endorses Rick Kozell in crowded Florida GOP congressional race

Republican District 18 congressional candidates (from left) Carl Domino, Rick Kozell, Brian Mast, Mark Freeman and Rebecca Negron at a forum in Stuart . Three other Republicans, three Democrats and an independent are also running. (George Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Republican District 18 congressional candidates (from left) Carl Domino, Rick Kozell, Brian Mast, Mark Freeman and Rebecca Negron at a forum in Stuart . Three other Republicans, three Democrats and an independent are also running. (George Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

Republican North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr has endorsed Rick Kozell in the crowded GOP primary for the nationally watched Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional District 18 seat.

 

A Burr endorsement might not sway many voters in District 18, but it helps Kozell’s efforts to impress national donors eyeing what is expected to be one of this year’s most competitive House races. Eight Republicans, three Democrats and an independent are running in the swing district to replace Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, who’s running for Senate.

 

Burr, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, recently hosted a fundraising dinner in Washington for Kozell that was co-hosted by U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta, R-Pa.; Mike Rogers, R-Ala.; and Todd Rokita, R-Ind. as well as former Republican Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Miami.

 

Burr called Kozell, an attorney and former small business owner from Jupiter, “a conservative leader who will stand up for our principles in Washington D.C. He will fight to repeal and replace Obamacare, cut taxes, and rein in big government spending. In these troubled times I am confident we can count on Rick Kozell to help keep America safe and strong.”

 

One of Kozell’s rivals, decorated Army combat veteran Brian Mast, has lined up several Republican congressional endorsements: Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and U.S. Reps. Pete Sessions, R-Tex.; Ryan Zinke, R-Mont; and Steve Russell, R-Okla.

 

Another District 18 Republican, Martin County school board member Rebecca Negron, has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee.