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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Alan Grayson endorses Darryl Rouson in tight senate race

Democratic Senate candiidate Alan Grayson endorsed Daryl Rouson in what appears to be a neck and neck state senate Democratic primary  in Tampa Bay between Reps. Rouson of St. Petersbiurg, Ed Narain of Tampa, former state Rep. Betty Reed and trial lawyer  Augie Ribeiro. Grayson's endorsement should help bolster Rouson's liberal cred.

 “What we desperately need now is people in public office who are unbought and unbossed […] and Darryl reflects that,” said Grayson. “You won’t find a better champion for what the middle class in America actually needs today. There’s an old saying that it’s necessary to speak truth to power even if it makes you quake inside. Well it’s actually Republicans who quake inside when it’s Darryl saying those words.”

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Lawmaker pays heavy price for taking on Scott and Chamber

On paper, state Rep. Mike Hill of Pensacola Beach looks like everything Republicans would want in a legislator. A captain in the Air Force, father of three and a State Farm agent with a grade of 97 out of 100 this year from the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Not perfect, but close.

As it turns out, that 97 was far from perfect, and polls suggest that barring a miracle, Hill will lose his Republican state Senate primary on Tuesday to Rep. Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze, in a race featuring one of the toughest TV ads of this primary cycle.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce ran a hard-hitting spot featuring Gov. Rick Scott, as a narrator says Hill "broke his word," that "Rick Scott can't trust Mike Hill, and we can't either." Scott has not formally endorsed Broxson but calls him a "friend." The Chamber spot, paid for by one of Scott's staunchest allies, left no doubt about Scott's preference, and just for good measure, Chamber President Mark Wilson also recorded a 60-second radio spot saying: "Gov. Scott trusts Doug Broxson, and you can, too." …

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Mike Pence in Sarasota Wednesday

Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Mike Pence is scheduled to hit a rally/town hall meeting in Sarasota Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency at 4 p.m. The address is 1000 Blvd. of the Arts, Sarasota, and you can register for tickets here

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RNC chairman criticizes Kaine's 'dirty, deplorable attacks' in Tallahassee

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine addresses a few hundred students at Florida A&M University on Friday about the importance of voter registration and participation in this fall's election.

Joe Rondone / Tallahassee Democrat

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine addresses a few hundred students at Florida A&M University on Friday about the importance of voter registration and participation in this fall's election.

Comments that Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine made this afternoon in Tallahassee linking Donald Trump to white supremacists are drawing backlash from national Republicans.

In a statement this evening, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Kaine had "sunk to new lows with dirty and deplorable attacks which have no place in this campaign."

"No matter how desperate he is to distract from his running mate Hillary Clinton’s litany of corruption scandals, there is no excuse for these vile and baseless smears," Priebus said.

While Kaine spoke at a get-out-the-vote event at Florida A&M University, he pivoted to attacking the Republican presidential nominee and the support he has gotten from people with racist views -- a day after Clinton delivered a speech in Nevada condemning Trump's rhetoric and accusing him of "helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party."

Kaine in Tallahassee criticized Trump for "being behind the scurrilous and, I would say, bigoted notion that President Obama wasn't even born in this country." …

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Mysterious outside groups aim to block Trump's Florida co-chairman from winning seat in Legislature

Mysterious outside political groups are making a last minute push to block one of Rick Scott’s and Donald Trump’s most loyal Florida allies from winning a seat in the Florida Legislature.

Sarasota Republican Joe Gruters said he expected to take tough shots from his Republican opponent Steve Vernon in House District 73. It’s the nature of politics, said Gruters, an early backer of Scott in 2010 and Trump’s Florida co-chairman. But what he didn’t expect was that outside special interest groups would fund attack mailers against him given that Vernon, a long time Tea Party activists, has repeatedly tried to argue that Gruters is the one benefiting from special interests.

Over the last two days, mailers from a group calling themselves Stop Benefits to Illegals NOW!, have poured into Manatee County accusing Gruters of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from “special interest groups.” Another slams him for living in “liberal Sarasota County” - a longtime Republican stronghold that has not voted for a Democrat for president since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The district the two are battling for includes both Manatee and Sarasota counties, though the bulk of the district is in Manatee. …

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At FAMU, Tim Kaine ties Donald Trump to "Ku Klux Klan values"

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, with his wife Anne Holton by his side, addresses a few hundred students at Florida A&M University on Friday about the importance of voter registration and participation in this fall's election.

Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, with his wife Anne Holton by his side, addresses a few hundred students at Florida A&M University on Friday about the importance of voter registration and participation in this fall's election.

After a day of raising money, touring a local business hub and speaking at a get-out-the-vote rally with university students, Hillary Clinton's vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine made the most of a short visit to Florida's capital city on Friday.

It was his third trip to the Sunshine State -- but first to Tallahassee -- since joining Clinton's ticket last month, he said.

As the Democratic U.S. senator from Virginia took the stage at Florida A&M University this afternoon, he donned a Rattlers hat and somewhat sheepishly hissed a few times while imitating two fangs with his fingers -- an attempt at the university's "Rattler Strike," which charmed a cheering crowd.

During a 15-minute address, Kaine urged FAMU students to not be mere bystanders in this year's election. He encouraged them to volunteer, vote and make sure they and their friends are registered to vote.

Kaine also took a few minutes to tout Clinton's credentials and to emphasize the "fundamental differences" between her and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

As an example, Kaine condemned Trump for "being behind the scurrilous and, I would say, bigoted notion that President Obama wasn't even born in this country." …

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Candidates who self-fund often lose, but they're becoming more common

After Tuesday, Irv Slosberg could be a state senator — or he could be out more than $1 million in a failed election.

Slosberg, a Democratic state House member from Boca Raton, has spent about $1.1 million of his own money in a primary battle with Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth.

"I could spend my time going around begging for money from all of these special interests," Slosberg said. "Or I could just write a check myself rather than owing them."

Such extravagant personal spending is growing more popular for legislative jobs — despite their stingy $29,697 salaries.

In 2008, nine legislative candidates gave their campaigns $100,000 or more. So far this year, 27 have — and there are still two months left until November's general election.

A number of conditions explain why.

• The concentration of wealth in the last 30 years has produced a record number of billionaires and millionaires undaunted by the typical expenses of a campaign.

• While state law limits donors to $1,000 per candidate each election year, no such restrictions exist for candidates. They can loan or donate themselves as much as they can afford. …

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Unlike Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio refrains from criticizing Trump on immigration

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on Trump's shifting immigration views: "I've seen the headlines"

Tony Marrero | Tampa Bay Times

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on Trump's shifting immigration views: "I've seen the headlines"

If Sen. Marco Rubio is miffed that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has wavered a bit on his hardline immigration status, he's not letting it show.

Rubio, who is expected to win the GOP primary Tuesday in his bid to keep his seat, said Friday he'd "seen the headlines" about Trump's comments that seem to indicate he's softening a bit on immigration and tacking toward the policy proposals that Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush advocated during the presidential race. 

Compare that to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Rubio's fellow failed presidential candidate, who called Trump's shift "abhorrent."

GREATEST HITS: Marco Rubio's top 10 slams against Donald Trump (video)

Rubio is expected to handily win the Republican primary against businessman Carlos Beruff. The Buzz asked Rubio how he’ll explain his support for Trump, however reluctant and lukewarm, to general election voters. …

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Ahead of storm, Gov. Scott warns: Vote now for Tuesday primary

With the prospect of a major storm bearing down on Florida as early as this weekend, state officials all have the same message: Go vote early.

"With the primary election on Tuesday, it is crucial that everyone goes out to vote early, regardless of weather," Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement urging Floridians to monitor the weather and prepare for a possible storm.

Scott himself has already voted. He filled in a mail ballot.

The National Hurricane Center believes there's a 60-percent chance of a system in the Caribbean turning into a cyclone in the next five days and that it could be headed toward Florida's Gulf Coast.

That would wreak havoc on next Tuesday's primary election, in which voters will decide the party nominees for congressional and state legislative seats, state attorneys and county offices, as well as nonpartisan offices and a constitutional amendment on solar power.

Early voting is available in all 67 Florida counties today and Saturday. Voters in 10 counties can cast early ballots on Sunday. They include Hillsborough, Pinellas, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Orange, Duval, Bradford, Charlotte and Osceola. …

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FDA acts to protect blood supply from Zika

The FDA is now recommending nationwide testing of donated blood for the Zika virus.

Times file photo

The FDA is now recommending nationwide testing of donated blood for the Zika virus.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration wants health agencies to take extra steps to protect the nation’s blood supply from the Zika virus.

The federal agency today revised its guidance on Zika testing and is recommending that all donated blood in the United States be tested.

In February, when the first travel-related cases arrived in Florida, the agency’s guidance was that testing was only needed in areas where the Zika virus is being locally transmitted. Since the end of July, that has included parts of Florida.

“There is still much uncertainty regarding the nature and extent of Zika virus transmission,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “At this time, the recommendation for testing the entire blood supply will help ensure that safe blood is available for all individuals who might need transfusion.”

The heightened caution is a result of consultation with public health agencies and concern about the severe impacts of the virus on fetuses. Zika has been linked to microcephaly in newborns, a condition where babies are born with smaller than normal skulls and brains and suffer developmental issues. …

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Poll: Jewish voters prefer Clinton to Trump

Jewish voters in Florida favor Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump by a wide margin.

That shouldn't be too surprising. After all, Florida's Jewish population -- especially in South Florida -- has supported Democratic candidates for years. But a poll released Friday by West End Strategy confirms it: 66% of respondents said they'd support Clinton with 23% for Trump, 6% Gary Johnson and 2% Jill Stein.

Among Jewish voters, Clinton has high favorability (57%) compared to Trump (21%). 

Notably, even some Trump supporters told the pollsters they oppose his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States. 75% said the U.S. should not ban Muslims.

The group called 500 registered Florida voters "who have distinctly Jewish names." The poll has a 4.4-point margin of error. Read the full poll here.

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Solar's double message: Voters should vote yes now, no later

A "Yes on 4, No on 1" yard sign.

Steve Bousquet - Times

A "Yes on 4, No on 1" yard sign.

Signs like this one will be popping up regularly across the Sunshine State, as pro-Amendment 4 forces urge voters to vote yes now -- and no later.

Many groups supporting Amendment 4 on next Tuesday's primary ballot are also working to defeat Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot. Amendment 1 is actually a business-backed ballot initiative that critics say is deceptively pretending to be a consumer-friendly proposal, when in fact it is pro-utility and anti-consumer.

Utilities are the biggest financial backers of Amendment 1. (Read this letter published in the Miami Herald by Sam Fields of Plantation).  

Back to these signs, it's unusual -- and potentially a bit confusing -- for any interest group to send voters two different messages at the same time. The sign above shows no disclaimer from a sponsoring organization but the identical sign appears on the web site of the official "Yes On 4" effort, led by Floridians for Solar Choice.  …

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Poll: Clinton holds narrow lead on Trump in Florida

A new Mason-Dixon Polling & Research poll shows where in Florida Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are doing best.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research

A new Mason-Dixon Polling & Research poll shows where in Florida Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are doing best.

Hillary Clinton has a narrow 2 percentage point advantage over Republican Donald Trump according to a new poll released this morning by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.

In the survey of 625 registered Florida voters, 44 percent chose Clinton over Trump. Libertarian Gary Johnson collected 6 percent, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein was at 2 percent. Another 6 percent said they are still not undecided.

"The race in Florida clearly divides along the traditional demographic lines," Mason-Dixon says in a press release. "Clinton leads among Democrats (83%-7%), women (51%-37%), blacks (91%-5%), Hispanics (63%-27%) and in Southeast Florida (56%-31%)."

Trump meanwhile is ahead with Republicans (78%-10%), unaffiliated voters (44%-30%), men (47%-36%) and non-Hispanic whites (54%-29%). Trump is also dominating in North Florida and Southwest Florida.

The traditional Interstate 4 battlegound is once again the difference maker in the presidential race, according to the poll. In Tampa Bay, Clinton holds a 44 percent to 40 percent lead, while in Central Florida, Trump holds a 46 percent to 42 percent lead.


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Democratic ad links Rubio, other Republicans to Trump

The DSCC has launched a digital ad that links Sen. Marco Rubio and other Republicans running for Senate to Donald Trump.

The spot shows a CNN anchor reading a news story about how Rubio in an Aug. 15 Miami Herald editorial board meeting stood by calling Trump a "con man" but said he supports him as the nominee.

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Pam Keith electrifies Pinellas Democrats over Grayson; Murphy didn't attend

CLEARWATER — A 47-year-old Miami labor attorney and Navy veteran paced around a pint-sized Marriott hotel ballroom Thursday evening throwing out ideas to Pinellas County Democrats.

They loved it.

Require that the military buy guns only from manufacturers that don't sell civilians AR-15-style weapons? That sounds interesting. Make gun owners carry insurance? Absolutely. Collect data on judges to ensure they apply the law evenly to all races and genders? Worth a shot.

"Equality under the law is not about the way the law is written," the attorney told roughly 75 people at the monthly meeting of the Pinellas Democratic Party. "It's about the way the law is applied."

If you hadn't seen the social media notices, you might not know who the attorney was. She's Pam Keith, and she's running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate in the Aug. 30 primary. You may have heard of her opponents, U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson of Orlando and Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, but she hasn't gained much traction — which is curious, based on the positive reaction of the crowd.

MORE: "Florida, meet your U.S. Senate candidates" …

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