Donald Trump

Andrew Gillum’s a tease

Andrew Gillum’s toying with us.

The Tallahassee Democrat, who narrowly lost a bid for governor to Republican Ron DeSantis in November, teased supporters and critics today with a slick “save the date” video come on.

The promo features chants of Gillum’s iconic “Bring It Home” campaign slogan in the background, alongside tidbits from the trail.

Gillum, who lost to DeSantis by .4 percentage points last year, recently joined CNN as a political analyst.

After a surprise primary election victory, the former Tallahassee mayor had hoped to make Florida history by becoming the state’s first black governor. DeSantis dashed those dreams, but not before his gubernatorial effort skyrocketed the Florida Democrat onto the national stage.

Despite his November loss, Gillum’s been rumored to be considering a run for president in an already crowded Democratic field.

Will that be the “major announcement” coming on March 20, or will Gillum throw his support behind one of the other contenders?

In an email to supporters Friday morning, Gillum said “what we fought for last year still holds true today” and hammered on the anti-Donald Trump theme invoked against the president’s pal, DeSantis, last year.

“Health care should be a right and not a privilege. Teachers should be paid what they are worth. Our water and air should be safe for our children.

And most importantly: we need to do everything in our power to make Donald Trump a one-term president.

This fight is about the future of our state and our nation. I’m not going anywhere — and I know neither are you. We have to stand strong and speak out.

I believe that we will win. I’ll see you on March 20.”

 

Carlos Guillermo Smith knows hate crimes are real

 

Chicago’s police chief is accusing”Empire” star Jussie Smollett of using the “advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career” by paying two men to stage an attack on him last month.

The allegations concerning Smollett, who is black and gay, sparked an international avalanche of commentary, but one state representative who’s weighing in has more than a passing interest in the matter.

“I decided to finally tell this very deeply personal story because the reality is that hate crimes are real. Homophobia is real. Bigotry is real. And hate violence is on the rise against many groups. Anti-semitism is on the rise. Hate violence against transgender women of color is on the rise, especially in Florida,” Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said in a telephone interview Thursday evening.

Smith, an Orlando Democrat who is openly gay, spoke with us after he tweeted about his experience as a survivor of “senseless hate violence” when he was a University of Central Florida senior in 2003.

In a telephone interview Thursday evening, Smith recounted the evening 16 years ago when a keg party turned into a gay-bashing attack on him and his roommate, Heath Frank.

The attacker, identified as “Eduardo Alessandro Mongio” in court documents provided by Smith, was “lingering around” and “acting kind of weird” at the crowded party, Smith said.

Other witnesses later said they heard Mongio making homophobic remarks, but “I never heard any of that,” Smith said.

But at some point a bloodied Frank came back inside the apartment, Smith recalled.

“He was red in the face. He was crying. I’m like, Heath, what’s wrong? He said, it’s nothing. Let’s go. Let’s go,” Smith said.

But when they went outside, Mongio confronted Smith and started punching him in the head and face.

“I didn’t know what was going on. But I got banged up pretty bad. When the dust settled, everyone was telling me about how the guy was making all these homophobic slurs about our group, because hey listen, we travel in cliques. We queer people, we stick together,” Smith said. “I don’t remember if the guy was drunk or what his deal was but he started lashing out at . It was like a full-fledged gay-bashing.”

Smith, who was still trying to piece together the events of more than a decade-and-a-half ago, said the police were called and Mongio was arrested. Once in the cop car, according to the police report, Mongio threatened to “get that fucker” and repeatedly referred to Smith and Frank as “faggots.”

“But I remember, the next day, I was so down on myself. I was humiliated. I was embarrassed. It’s hard to describe the feeling that you have when you’ve survived hate violence and you’re not sure what to do with it, especially when you’re young. I was like, what just happened,” he said.

Former state Rep. Joe Saunders, who was one of Florida’s first openly gay legislators and who was one of Smith’s close friends at college, told Smith the campus was “stunned” by the attack.

Saunders quickly penned “his first press release” and organized a rally where students — including Smith, who later worked with Saunders at Equality Florida — demanded that the university update its non-discrimination policy to include LGBT students.

Mongio was charged with two counts of “battery, evidencing prejudice,” and disorderly conduct. Prosecutors later dropped the hate-crimes enhancer — which could have added another five to 10 years to Mongio’s sentence — and the disorderly conduct charge after he agreed to plea no contest to the battery charges. He was sentenced to 312 days in the Orange County Jail followed by a year of probation.

And Mongio’s sentence also required sensitivity training, an anger management course, and a letter of apology to Smith, according to the court record.

Smith said he “felt compelled to speak out” as the controversy around Smollett exploded.

“I don’t know what the outcome is going to become of the Jussie Smollett case. But I can already see there’s a narrative out there that hate crimes aren’t real. No. They are. And they’re on the rise. Especially with the election of Donald Trump, who wears hate for other groups on his sleeve,” he said.

Smith said he feels “like justice was served” in his case. But he knows that’s not every other survivor’s experience.

“Even though it hasn’t defined me as a person, it absolutely is part of my experience as an out gay man, as an activist, as a lawmaker who cares deeply about issues of fairness and equality,” he said. “I think that people who now know this about me, they understand why I’m such a passionate advocate for my community. It doesn’t define who I am but it’s part of my experience.”

Gaetz takes on Cuomo after going viral over Parkland exchange with Parkland dad

After making international news for scolding the parents of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teens who were among the 17 students and faculty gunned down a year ago, Congressman Matt Gaetz spent nearly 11 minutes in a verbal slugfest with CNN’s Chris Cuomo last night.

Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican who is one of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ top advisors, made national news after a heated exchange with Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son, Joaquin (Guac) Oliver, was among the 14 slain students killed at the Parkland school a year ago.

The confrontation between the former Florida House representative and the grieving dad came during a congressional hearing on gun violence. Oliver repeatedly yelled out when Gaetz, a fierce ally of President Donald Trump, brought up The Wall as a critical solution to the issue. Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was also among the victims and who was sitting next to Oliver, also loudly objected to Gaetz’s take.

Video of Gaetz pointing his finger at Oliver and Guttenberg, and questioning whether  the men should be booted from the committee went viral.

Last night, Gaetz — a strong NRA proponent — told Cuomo he “wasn’t trying to get Mr. Oliver thrown out” of the committee.

Gaetz said he was concerned for a woman who was “violently raped in a gun-free zone” who was seated in front of Oliver.

“He didn’t mean to intimidate her, but they did,” Gaetz said.

When pressed by Cuomo about why he brought up illegal immigration during a debate about gun violence, Gaetz said he “wanted to highlight the fact that there are victims of gun violence who would be in a better position today” with a wall across the southern U.S. border.

“I did not want to throw the guy out,” he said. “A wall will mean fewer people will die at the hands of illegal aliens.”

Oliver later told CNN he found Gaetz’s remarks at the committee hearing, at which universal background check legislation was discussed, was “pretty offensive.”

“No. 1, I don’t think you’re qualified for this. No. 2, you’re asking us to waste time. You are wasting time from us really to go ahead and solve the problem,” Oliver said. “If this is how this is going to work, I have to stop this guy. I have to let the nation know he’s wrong.”

Watch Oliver on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.

IHOW: DeSantis, at first pre-Cabinet gaggle, says the word “climate,” but …

screen shot 2019-01-11 at 11.22.41 amCapping a week of firsts for Gov. Ron DeSantis, the newly minted chief of state held his premiere pre-Cabinet press conference this morning.

A relaxed DeSantis, who held the gaggle in the governor’s large conference room, spent about 10 minutes fielding a handful of questions from reporters ranging septic tanks to his pal President Donald Trump’s proposed diversion of disaster recovery funds to pay for a border wall.

DeSantis spoke about his trip to Hurricane Michael-wracked Mexico Beach, his appointment of a Cuban-American female Supreme Court justice,  and a sweeping water policy announcement delivered in three parts of the state with water woes.

In response to a query from Florida Politics’ Jim Rosica about whether he believes in climate change, DeSantis used the word “climate” but didn’t directly answer the question.

“We put in that executive order that, as climate changes and our environment changes, water rises in places in South Florida and there’s increased flooding, we want to make sure that we’re taking steps that we can to combat that. We’re going to create an Office of Resiliency to try to combat effects,” DeSantis said.

“Look, to me, I’m not even concerned about, is it this sole cause, that sole cause, when you have water in the streets you have to find a way to combat that. So we’re going to work to do that. I think this office will be able to coordinate a thoughtful response based on…”

Rosica: “Do you agree with many scientists that that humans do cause climate change?”

DeSantis: “Next, next question.”

The climate change discussion was a follow-up to a question about the impact of septic tanks on the nutrient run-off that’s causing algal blooms.

Here’s DeSantis’ take on the septic tank issue:

“In our exec order, we directed DEP to establish a septic-to sewer grant conversion grant program, where local governments would have to put up money but then we would match it. So I think that is a factor, but I don’t think that is exclusively the factor. I think that you have a lot of nutrients put into Lake Okeechobee, that obviously, when the Army Corps is discharging that water, that is aggravating some of the algae bloom that’s caused huge problems on both our coasts,” DeSantis said.

Gatehouse Media reporter John Kennedy followed up by pointing out that the Legislature has been “pretty friendly” toward the sugar industry and agriculture in the past.

As he did yesterday, DeSantis insisted water quality issue isn’t an R or D issue.

“At the end of the day, what we’ve been able to show is these issues in Florida really do not fall on partisan lines. How the Legislature is divided in the past, I think is probably yesterday. I think now going forward people realize… I can go in the most rock river Republican party in Southwest Florida, they tell you about the water. I can go talk to liberal environmentalists, they talk about it. They want us to deal with the water. I just think there’s just such a huge majority of folks in Florida who support making sure we get this right, that I think the legislators are going to listen. Yesterday we had legislators from all across the state who were with us. We had folks in Lee County. We had people in Sarasota. We had people in Martin County. This has not been as salient an issue in the past as it is now.”

DeSantis’ last question, from Emily Mahoney, was focused on Trump’s reported consideration of steering money earmarked for hurricane victims in Florida — and disaster victims in other states — to cover the $5.7 billion Congress is refusing to give him for the border wall.

The Tampa Bay Times reporter asked the governor how the president’s plan would affect Florida and whether he’s spoken to Trump about it.

“I have not,” DeSantis said. “I don’t know, because I just don’t know the details. In all my years in Congress, we never dealt with this idea of an emergency. So I need to look at the law and figure out how it is. My sense is, just as somebody who’s studied the Constitution, the president wouldn’t be able to just appropriate his own money under any circumstances. He may be able to re-purpose some money. I’m not sure how that works. Obviously anything that was done on the disaster front, we have people that are counting on that. If they backfill it immediately after the government opens, that’s fine. But I don’t want that to be where that money is not available for us.”

 

 

WATCH IT: Gillum concedes, again

Following a machine recount that failed to move him closer to becoming governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum conceded — for the second time — to Republican Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis’ 33,683-vote edge over Gillum was the closest general-election victory in a governor’s race in modern history in Florida.

In a Facebook video posted Saturday evening, Gillum, accompanied by his wife, R. Jai, thanked supporters and conceded, as he did on election night, the race to his opponent.

 

 

“We said that we would fight until the last vote is counted. Obviously, we are now closing out the hand recount phase in two of the statewide races,” Gillum said, adding that he wanted to make sure that “as long as it was a legally cast vote, we wanted those votes to be counted.”

Gillum’s  announcement came hours before a 12 p.m. deadline for a manual recount in the races for U.S. Senate and agriculture commissioner.

“Now that we are rounding that process out, R. Jai and I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Mr. DeSantis on becoming the next governor of the great state of Florida,” Gillum said.

The contest between Desantis, who had the backing of President Donald Trump, and Gillum, who was trying to make history as the Florida’s first black governor, was one of the most closely watched governor’s races in the nation. Gillum drew the support of progressive billionaires, including George Soros and Tom Steyer, and former President Barack Obama joined him on the campaign trail days before the Nov. 6 election.

Trump, who had repeatedly blasted Gillum on Twitter prior to the election and who called the Tallahassee mayor a “stone-cold thief,” showed the Democrat some presidential love, at least by Trump standards, following the release of the video.

 

“This election may be beyond us,” Gillum said, pausing and looking at his wife.

“Although nobody wanted to be governor more than me, this was not just about an election cycle,” Gillum, wearing an orange FAMU jacket, said. “This was about creating the kind of change in this state that really allows for the voices of everyday people to show up again in our government, in our state, in our communities.”

Despite losing the election, the 39-year-old Democrat made it clear his political career isn’t over.

“We know that this fight continues,” Gillum said.  “More than 4 million of you decided that you wanted a different direction for the state of Florida. We want you to know that we see you, that we hear you, and that your voices will continue to power us as we still stand on the front lines, right alongside you, to make this a state that works for all of us.”

 

Trump: Gillum’s a stone-cold thief. Gillum: Grow up.

After tweeting yesterday morning that Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is a “thief,” President Donald Trump escalated the rhetoric during an interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News last night.

The presidential vitriol comes as voters are already casting early ballots in advance of the election, just a week away, and as Trump prepares to storm the Sunshine State to rally support for Gillum’s opponent, Ron DeSantis, and Gov. Rick Scott, who’s trying to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

According to Trump, Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, isn’t just a “thief,” he’s a “stone-cold thief.” Trump was referring to a ticket for the Broadway smash hit “Hamilton,” supplied by undercover agent “Mike Miller” two years ago.

“The FBI offered him tickets at $1,800 apiece and he took them. He took a trip with the same FBI agent. I guess he was posing as a developer or something. The man, stone-cold took this stuff. I don’t even think he should be allowed to continue on with the race,” Trump said.

Gillum is mayor of a city “known as one of the most corrupt in Florida and one of the most corrupt in the nation,” the president went on.

“He’s a disaster and how he’s even close to being tied is hard to believe,” Trump said of Gillum.

Recent polls have shown DeSantis trailing or tied with Gillum, who’s trying to make history as the state’s first black governor.

Trump also warned that “Florida will become Venezuela” if Gillum is elected.

“It will be a disaster,” the part-time Florida man predicted.

DeSantis, on the other hand, “is a Harvard, Yale guy” and “a very good person,” Trump went on.

“This other guy, is a stone-cold, in my opinion, he’s a thief,” Trump said of Gillum.  “How can you have a guy like this?”

Trump’s intervention on DeSantis’ behalf has only intensified the widespread focus on the spectacle known as the Florida governor’s race, and Gillum took to national media to pooh-pooh the president’s accusations.

Last night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Gillum said Trump needs to “grow up.”

Trump targeted Gillum with his tweets as the nation was reeling from the worst anti-Semitic shooting in history. Eleven congregants at a Jewish temple in Pittsburgh were shot and killed on Saturday. The mass shooting came a day after authorities arrested a Florida man who mailed pipe bombs to at least a dozen of Trump’s Democratic critics — including the Clintons and the Obamas.

“Our president instead of rising to the occasion, every opportunity that he gets, to really show that he’s a leader, a leader that can cut through, cut across in the moments where the American people could really use leadership the most, he repeatedly fails us,” Gillum told Maddow.

Trump “spent his day today tweeting about me, tweeting at me, tweeting lies, rather than working to tamp down the kind of division and derision that he himself has helped to stoke,” he went on.

Maddow asked Gillum to elaborate on a tweet in which he called Trump “weak.”

“He performs as all weak people do, by bullying others. You’re talking about the most powerful position in the free world and the president of the United States takes time to badger me, to bully me on Twitter? I mean, it just doesn’t make any sense. The president needs to grow up. He needs to do his job. He needs to lead. This country could use leadership at this moment, and instead he’s throwing insults across Twitter,” he said.

 

 

Trump ‘trash talking’ Gillum as a ‘thief’

As Sunshine State voters line up to cast ballots at early voting sites or hunch over mail-in ballots at home, President Donald Trump flexed his multi-million-follower Twitter muscle today in Florida’s closely watched governor’s race.

Trump’s already thrown his support behind DeSantis, who quit Congress to focus on his bid to succeed outgoing Gov. Rick Scott.

Today’s presidential tweet — which went out to his 55.4 million followers and was retweeted to who-only-knows how many more — is the latest installment of the GOP’s “crime & corruption” meme targeting DeSantis’s opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Gillum quickly fired back with a tweet of his own, repeating a mantra where he’s chided the president for failing to use the mayor’s @AndrewGillum handle (to make it easier for his  407,000 followers to be in the know about the presidential attacks).

DeSantis and his supporters, including Trump, are making hay of the drip-drip-drip of documents being released by Christopher Kise, a Republican lawyer who represents Tally lobbyist Adam Corey. Corey appears to be at the heart of a years-long corruption probe by the FBI into Tallahassee city government. The documents, released in batches by Kise, are in response to an ethics complaint lodged against Gillum. The records show that Gillum accepted a ticket from “Mike Miller,” a faux developer who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent, to the Broadway hit “Hamilton” two years ago.

Miller also dropped nearly $5,000 on a fundraiser for a committee linked to Gillum, prior to the mayor officially joining the governor’s race. The committee never reported the contribution.

Despite being branded a “thief” by the president, Gillum has repeatedly denied that he’s done anything wrong, and he maintains he’s not the subject of the FBI inquiry.

As for the Sunshine State capital’s rep as “one of the most corrupt cities in the Country,” we’re not sure what metric arrived at that conclusion.

But, in a state where the last governor’s races were determined by fewer than 100,000 votes, Trump’s social media reach might make a difference.

And if his virtual self doesn’t sway voters, perhaps his actual self will.

The part-time Florida man is stumping in two Florida GOP strongholds this week, to boost support for Scott — who’s trying to boot U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson out of his long-held seat — and DeSantis.

Trump’s coming to Fort Myers Wednesday, and he’ll be in Pensacola on Saturday.