Tag Archives: Florida

Debbie’s Downfall?

By Jim Ellis

May 31, 2016
— Is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23) headed for defeat in this year’s Democratic primary? Even though there has been a great deal of recent controversy swirling around the South Florida congresswoman, who is also the Democratic National Committee chair, the answer is no.

Among other issues breaking against her, the congresswoman is coming under major attack for, in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ words, “rigging” the election for Hillary Clinton. This charge relates to the presidential campaign rules vis-à-vis delegate apportionment and Super Delegates. Sanders supports his bias charge by reminding anyone who’ll listen that Wasserman Shultz was one of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign co-chairs back in 2008, thus highlighting the strong personal relationship between the two.

Wasserman Schultz is also facing resignation calls from her position as national party chair. Though no major Democratic leader has called for her resignation, virtually none have rallied to her defense, either. Instead, people like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Leader-in-Waiting Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and to a large extent President Obama, simply refuse to make any comment about the situation.

Now, the national barbs are spilling over into her own US House re-nomination primary. Her major Democratic opponent, law professor Tim Canova, had already raised more than $1 million even before Sen. Sanders publicly endorsed him last week. Canova claims to have obtained an additional $250,000, mostly through Internet contributions, since receiving Sanders’ open support.

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Two Sad Retirements

By Jim Ellis

May 23, 2016 — Two additional House members announced late last week that they would not file for re-election, both due to health reasons.

Hawaii Rep. Mark Takai (D-Aiea/Honolulu) issued a public statement indicating that his pancreatic cancer is spreading and he is unable to seek re-election to a second term. Takai was diagnosed with the disease last year, had surgery in November, and doctors cleared him to run for another term.

Now, unfortunately, his health has taken a serious turn for the worse and he is forced to retire. Rep. Takai, 48 years of age, won a 51-47 percent victory in 2014 after serving 20 years in the Hawaii legislature.

Florida Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Bonita Springs/Ft. Myers) also announced that he will not seek re-election. He is returning to Florida to care for his ailing father. Clawson won a special election in 2014, and a full term later that year. Rep. Clawson, a multi-millionaire former business owner, is serving in his first elective office and says he doesn’t rule out again running for office in the future.

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Polls: Razor Thin Races

By Jim Ellis

May 13, 2016 — Quinnipiac University, releasing the Senate numbers from the three-state presidential polls they just conducted, finds toss-up campaigns emerging across the board.

In Florida, both nomination battles are far from clear or being settled. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18), the Democratic establishment’s chosen candidate, and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), the conservative base contender who enjoys strong support from the Club for Growth — among other outside right-of-center organizations — were the strongest competitors for each party. It is important to note, however, that all potential general election match-ups were within small single-digit margins.

It is fair to say that representatives Murphy and DeSantis may have the best chance of advancing to the general election and, if they do, this might become the best campaign in the country. Such a race would feature two young, articulate office holders with leadership potential in their respective parties. That being said, the Q-Poll Florida data (April 27-May 8; 1,051 registered Florida voters) finds Murphy holding the barest of margins, 36-35 percent over DeSantis, meaning a virtual tie.

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Graham Out; Senate Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis

April 25, 2016 — Ever since the Florida State Supreme Court decided to re-draw the congressional boundaries halfway through the decade, freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D, FL-2, Tallahassee) has been in the political wilderness. The court declared eight of the state’s districts unconstitutional last July and finished the new map earlier this year, radically changing the original plan as enacted by the legislative and executive branches.

After the preliminary map became public it was evident that Rep. Graham was becoming a political casualty. Wanting to draw a minority 5th District that stretched from Jacksonville to Tallahassee instead of the traditional draw that began in J’ville and then meandered through Gainesville and Sanford on its way to Orlando, the court sacrificed Graham by removing the Democratic base from the 2nd District seat and transferring it to the new District 5.

Rumors were rampant that Graham, the daughter of former governor and US Sen. Bob Graham (D), would enter the open Senate race. As time passed with no movement in that direction, it was apparent she saw her career heading in a different direction. Yesterday, Rep. Graham announced that she will not seek re-election, and broadly hinted that running in the open 2018 governor’s race is within her political future.

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Florida Rep. Crenshaw to Retire

By Jim Ellis

April 15, 2016 — Jacksonville area Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL-4) has announced he will not seek a ninth term in office, thus ending a congressional career that began with his initial election in 2000.

He becomes the 44th House member not to seek re-election in 2016, and the 29th Republican, making this the third consecutive election cycle with an abnormally large number of open seats. In 2012, 63 districts were open; 2014 saw 48 campaigns without an incumbent running. Normally, open seats number in the 30-35 range. Crenshaw’s unexpected retirement means that seven of Florida’s 27 US House seats will be open for the coming election.

Previously, the 71-year-old lawmaker served in the Florida state House and Senate for a combined total of 14 years. In 1992, Crenshaw became the first Republican in almost 120 years to be elected as president of the Florida state Senate. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

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