Where’s Rubio? Unknown group wants to know

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

It’s Wednesday afternoon. Do you know where one of your U.S. senators is?

Speaking Up for America – a group that doesn’t appear to be registered as a corporation or a political committee in Florida or with the Federal Elections Commission – has paid for an advertisement in The Palm Beach Post describing U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio as “lost.”

The ad has a picture of Rubio and a tongue-in-cheek description.

“He may respond to the title ‘Senator Marco Rubio,’ though his constituents have been unable to verify whether this is still the case as they have been unable to contact him in recent weeks,” the ad reads. “Senator Rubio was recently re-elected to the United State Senate and may be found in Washington, D.C. Many of his concerned constituents have been trying to reach him by phone, email, fax, the Senate website, and the Postal Service about a variety of issues, but they have been unable to reach the Senator and have received no response to their communications.”

The ad finishes with: “If found, please return Senator Rubio to his constituents by way of a Town Hall meeting or other suitable gathering in which the Senator demonstrates his accountability to his constituents by listening to and honestly addressing their concerns.”

Rubio’s office didn’t take the swipe laying down.

“We have been fully accessible and responsive to constituents, including the two individuals likely hiding behind this anonymous ad,” the senator’s press secretary, Matt Wolking, wrote in an email to The Post. “Our Palm Beach office only has one employee and serves multiple counties, but he greets any protesters who show up and has already met with hundreds of these activists.”

Wolking was just getting warmed up.

“This dishonest ad is part of a coordinated strategy of disruption revealed in an online activist manual, which instructs liberal protesters to carry out ‘mass office calling’ in which the group ‘all agree[s] to call in on one specific issue that day,’ he wrote. “They are further instructed that ‘the next day or week, pick another issue, and call again on that.’ Their goal is to flood offices with calls and emails, disrupt our ability to respond, then complain to the press that they aren’t getting a response.”

Rebecca Negron first to get signatures for U.S. House race

Rebecca Negron
Rebecca Negron

Martin County School Board member Rebecca Negron said Wednesday she’s gathered enough petition signatures to qualify for the Aug. 30 Republican primary for the Palm Beach County-Treasure Coast U.S. Congressional seat Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, is vacating to run for the U.S. Senate.

A press release for Negron — wife of State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, whose district includes northern Palm Beach County and who’s the incoming Florida Senate President — said she’s the first so far of the eight candidates to gather the 2,298 needed to get on the primary ballot without having to pay a $10,444 filing fee.

The registered nurse and mother of three has tapped many of her husband’s Tallahassee connections while raising some $400,000 for the campaign, as of February, and already has aired her first television ad.


Scott’s chief-of-staff, general counsel leaving April 1

Melissa Sellers
Melissa Sellers

Gov. Rick Scott‘s chief-of-staff, Melissa Sellers, and general counsel, Tim Cerio, will be leaving April 1, the governor’s office announced Thursday.

Sellers won’t be going far, with plans to do consulting work for Scott’s political spending committee, Let’s Get To Work. The governor is widely expected to be gearing up to run for U.S. Senate in 2018 against three-term incumbent Bill Nelson, Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat.

Sellers, who formerly worked for ex-Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, joined Scott’s office initially as communications director. She was Scott’s fourth chief-of-staff, taking on the job in December 2014 after running the governor’s re-election campaign.

Scott said that he and his wife, Ann, appreciate the work by Sellers, who also is getting married next month.

“She has been an invaluable member of my team since the fall of 2012 and Ann and I look forward to watching her triumph in her next endeavor,” Scott said.

Cerio has been general counsel since January 2015. He plans to return to private practice.

Murphy gets another union nod in U.S. Senate race

Democrat Patrick Murphy gets another union nod
Democrat Patrick Murphy gets another union nod

Jupiter U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy was endorsed Friday by a construction industry union in his campaign for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination to fill the seat being vacated by Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio.

Murphy, squaring off against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, who is a favorite of the Democrats’ progressive wing, is building up union backing with the Laborers’ International Union of North America the latest to come on board.

“LIUNA is proud to endorse Patrick because he supports our working families and we believe that his commonsense approach to leadership is exactly what Florida needs right now,” said Glenn Farner, business manager of the union’s southeast district council.

“Time and again, Patrick has proven that he will fight to protect our workers’ rights, fight for their hard-earned, high-quality union health benefits, and fight to raise the minimum wage.”

Murphy has already been endorsed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Florida Teamsters and the Florida Association of Retired Americans, a labor-backed retiree organization.

Murphy said, ““Our middle class was built by strong unions, and they remain the most committed supporters of working families across Florida and across our country.”

Murphy’s union scoop-up emerges even though the congressman’s roots are in the construction industry’s management side. His father is the millionaire owner of Coastal Construction, a prominent building firm, and the lawmaker is a former Republican whose voting record is moderate to conservative on many labor issues.

Grayson dismisses him as an “errand boy for Wall Street.”

Leading Republicans in the race are Pinellas County U.S. Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and Todd Wilcox of Orlando.