2018 governor’s race

Siempre Levine – en español y inglés – y Puerto Rico

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democrat who is running for governor, launched a bilingual TV ad, featuring Levine’s trip to storm-torn Puerto Rico.

The ad, “Siempre,” or “Always,” — in which Levine pledges to “always be with Puerto Rico” includes grainy black-and-white footage from his visit to the island after Hurricane Maria. The ad will run for five weeks in select markets, according to a press release from his campaign.

Has Latvala, under investigation, gone underground?

Add Sarasota to the places Sen. Jack Latvala won’t be this week.

The Clearwater Republican, who is running for governor, canceled a campaign event with Sarasota Republicans scheduled for Thursday.

“Thank you so much for your support or consideration of Sen. Jack Latvala
for Governor of Florida.  We were looking forward to the meeting with Sen.
Latvala this Thursday the 9th.  However, a decision has been made to
postpone the event.  We sincerely regret any inconvenience this may have
caused you,” read a message, signed by John McKay and John Patterson. The email was distributed by the Republican Party of Sarasota .

Latvala also canceled several campaign stops scheduled in the Treasure Coast this week.

Latvala is under investigation for allegations that he groped female aides and lobbyists and made verbally demeaning comments about their bodies. He has vehemently denied the allegations and hired Tallahassee lawyer Steve Andrews to represent him.

Andrews is asking that a retired law-enforcement officer conduct the investigation and that a retired judge handle any hearings in the matter.

“As one can easily understand, these allegations are incredibly serious and could permanently stain the reputation of a long-time public servant,” Andrews wrote Tuesday in a two-page letter to Senate President Joe Negron, who ordered the investigation.

Andrews asked that a retired judge be appointed as a special master, following an investigation by a former law enforcement officer.

“These reasonable requests will ensure that the investigation and disposition of these claims are handled in a professional and fair fashion These safeguards will not only protect Senator Latvala, they will likewise protect the complainants and enhance public confidence in the process,” Latvala’s lawyer wrote.





Philip “I’m like Lincoln” Levine takes to airwaves to promote Obamacare

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democrat who recently announced his formal entrée into the race for governor, is hitching his wagon to President Barack Obama and his signature health care reform, the Affordable Care Act.

Levine launched a “five-week, six-figure” statewide radio campaign this week to encourage Floridians to sign up for the health care benefits before the open enrollment period runs out on Dec. 15, according to a press release issued by his campaign this morning.

In the ads, in both English and Spanish, Levine praises Obama and likens himself to another president.

“Like Thomas Jefferson, I believe that here in America, we do have inalienable rights to liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness. I’m adding one more – the right to health care,” he says.

Chris King talks voting at universities

ChrisKing_PressImage-683x1024Chris King, a Democratic candidate for governor, wants to make it easier for Floridians to register to vote and to cast their ballots.

That was his message as King visited three state university campuses today, kicking off the campus appearances in Tallahassee at Florida State University, dropping by the University of Florida before winding up at the University of North Florida.

In a press release, King said his “Every Florida Voter” plan is part of his overall effort to make government “work for ordinary people, not special interests and those in power.”

“The first step to restore our democracy is to put that power back in the hands of the people of Florida,” King said, an attorney who graduated from Harvard University and attended law school at UF.

Among his proposals, King wants to expand the early voting period, automatically register voters and allow Election Day registration, instead of the current system of closing registration books roughly a month before each election.

King also said he supports providing a system for the restoration of voting rights for an estimated 1.6 million non-violent felons who have served their time but are denied the right to vote.

“But expanding voter registration and increasing access to the polls are not enough to increase voter participation,” King said. “Past candidates and elected officials from both parties have failed to give Floridians a reason to get out and vote.

“This campaign will be different. It will be unafraid of fighting for a new fair and Florida-focused economy that lifts up all Floridians and championing fresh ideas to give people a reason to stand and be counted,” he said.

By Lloyd Dunkelberger.

Latvala defends Dreamers: “We must lead with a compassionate heart”

State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who is running for governor, weighed in today on President Donald Trump’s decision regarding “dreamers,” the children of undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them into the country.

Trump is reportedly going to announce tomorrow that he intends to put an end to DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy established by former President Barack Obama.

Latvala, a moderate, is in a GOP primary match-up against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who’s been leaning more and more to the right after he jumped into the governor’s race.

Latvala has long been an advocate for children of undocumented immigrants. In 2014, he sponsored legislation that approved giving in-state tuition to Dreamers. Gov. Rick Scott, who last week said he does “not favor signed punishing children for the actions of their parents,” signed the measure into law.

In a Facebook post today, Latvala said lawmakers “must lead with a compassionate heart.” The statement comes in a state where Hispanic voters play a critical role not only in primaries, but in the general election.

“We must lead with a compassionate heart, not by punishing children. Florida is a diverse state and our economic success depends on a strong diverse workforce. If DACA ends in 6 months it will have a disastrous impact not only on hundreds of thousands of bright, promising young people but also on our business climate.

Congress has dropped the ball on this issue like so many others. It’s time for Congress to pass a law protecting Dreamers. I call on other leaders of the Republican Party in Florida to join me in supporting these children so they can come out of the shadows and legally secure jobs.”


Got a job for Gwen?

Gwen-Graham-Workdays-1145x550What’s next for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham?

It could be serving meals to the homeless, caring for zoo animals, bringing food to hospital patients or a myriad of other possibilities.

As part of a request for campaign cash, Graham’s campaign sent out a survey Friday ask potential donors to weigh on her next “workday.”

Graham, who served a term in Congress and didn’t seek re-election after her Northwest Florida was redrawn, has adopted the “workdays” tactic of her father, former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.

It’s worth noting that elder Graham’s workdays have been co-opted by a number of other politicos, including Republicans like state Rep. Matt Caldwell, who’s running for agriculture commissioner.

Back to Gwen Graham, though, some of the options posed in the SurveyMonkey questionnaire give respondents the choices of having the candidate:

— Deliver meals to patients at a local hospital;
— Clean up a neighborhood park;
— Serve meals at a homeless shelter;
— Work at a treatment facility for people struggling with addiction;
— Volunteer and support teachers at a school;
— Care for animals at a zoo.

Fans can also make their own suggestions for “a local business or organization where you think Gwen should spend a Workday.”

The job selected, which would be undertaken in the fall, would be Graham’s 42nd “workday.”

So far this year, Graham has pitched in working full shifts at a high school, a reintegration program and health clinics, “and more,” according to the pitch.

After being dared by a teacher in 1974 to teach a civics class at Carol City High School in Miami Lakes, Bob Graham undertook a series of 100, eight-hour “workdays.” Back then, Graham was as a little known state legislator embarking on a gubernatorial run in 1977.

By the time he left office in 2005, the two-term governor and three-term U.S. Senator had completed nearly 1,000 “workdays” — including lobster fisherman, mullet gutter, plumber,counterterrorism agent, housewife and downskeeper during an FSU-UF football game.

By Jim Turner.

Putnam regular passenger on anti-NAFTA Trump train

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican running for governor, again lent support to President Donald Trump’s efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In a letter to the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, the former congressman said the president’s agenda will create “a more even playing field for America’s farmers, ranchers and businesses.”

“As the U.S. moves into the second round of NAFTA negotiations on September 1, it is imperative that the Administration’s goal to seek a provision to address the plight of the producers of perishable and seasonal commodities be included in any agreement,” Putnam wrote.

On Sunday, Trump repeated in a tweet his threat to cancel the trade deal — which he calls the “worst trade deal ever made” — with Mexico and Canada, even as talks are in the early stages to improve the nearly 25-year-old agreement.

Trump a few minutes earlier tweeted “With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, me must have the wall Mexico will pay for it.”

“We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada.Both being very difficult,may have to terminate?” the president (@realDonaldTrump) tweeted.

“With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other,” another tweet proclaimed.

In April, Putnam sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, pleading with the Trump administration to investigate Mexico for unfair trade practices.

“I urge you to initiate an investigation into Mexico’s unfair trade practices, which have allowed Mexican producers of specialty crops to — in a matter of 20 years — become the dominant supplier of specialty crops into the U.S. market,” Putnam wrote in a letter dated April 19. “These unfair trade practices have resulted in the continued decline of domestic production of these crops, which play such an important role in our diets and ensure the proper nutrition and development of Americans of all ages.”

By Jim Turner.