The Buzz on Florida politics

Governor's race
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Governor's race

Latest Buzz on Florida politics

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump on Sunday claimed North Korea has agreed to "denuclearization" before his potential meeting with Kim Jong Un. But that's not the case.

North Korea said Friday it would suspend nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches ahead of summits with the U.S. and South Korea. Kim also said a nuclear test site would be closed and "dismantled" now that the country has learned how to make nuclear weapons and mount warheads on ballistic rockets.

But the North has stopped short of saying it has any intention of abandoning its nuclear arsenal, with Kim making clear that nukes remain a "treasured sword."

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TALLAHASSEE  — The state healthcare agency banned new admissions on Friday to a troubled South Miami-Dade assisted living facility associated with the Broward nursing home where a dozen residents died after the home lost power during Hurricane Irma.

Citing "an immediate serious danger to the public health, safety or welfare" and to residents at the facility, the Agency for Health Care Administration stopped Floridian Gardens Assisted Living Facility from admitting any new residents. The action came after a survey on Thursday identified at least two deaths and multiple falls involving "deficient practices" in care, supervision and followup.

The 180-bed facility at 17250 SW 137th Ave. is owned by Jack Michel and Larkin Community Hospital, the same entities that operated the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

Keep reading   3 min. read  

Winner of the week
Gwen Graham. The former congresswoman from Tallahassee was the center of attention during a televised debate among the major Democratic gubernatorial candidates, with her rivals hitting her from multiple sides and signaling they view her formidably. Graham handled the pressure comfortably. "Gwen and the men," she said with a chuckle as the criticism kept coming.

Runner up 1: Chris King. The rookie politician from Winter Park also had a strong debate performance, and is emerging as the most substantive and policy-oriented candidate in the primary.
Runner up 2: Ashley Moody. The Republican attorney general candidate saw state Rep. Ross Spano drop out of the race to run for congress, she has won a string of unofficial straw poll votes by party activists across Florida — including in the backyard rival Jay Fant of Jacksonville — and she continues to dominate the GOP field in law enforcement endorsements.

Loser of the week
Marco Rubio. Once again fueling widespread concern that Florida's junior senator may need medical attention for a missing backbone, Rubio flip-flopped on his opposition to Trump's nominee for NASA administrator, U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma. Rubio and Bill Nelson had been united in opposing a politician for a job rather than an experienced expert. But in casting a crucial deciding vote for Bridenstine last week, Rubio said the president should have "significant discretion" in making appointments. That never stopped Rubio from routinely blocking President Barack Obama's picks.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was one of three speakers at the funeral for his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, on Saturday in Houston.

Standing at the lectern in St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Bush said, "As I stand here today to share a few words about my mom, I feel her looming presence behind me and I know exactly what she's thinking right now: 'Jeb keep it short, don't drag this out. People have already heard enough remarks already. And most of all, don't get weepy. ' "

"Barbara Bush filled our lives with laughter and joy," he said. "And in the case of her family she was our teacher and role model on how to live a life of purpose and meaning."

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A Miami lawyer has filed an ethics complaint against Republican candidate for governor Ron DeSantis over a condo the congressman rented out from a campaign donor and defense contractor in 2016.

The complaint, filed by attorney Richard Ruben, says that DeSantis paid "well below" market value to rent the Palm Coast condo, according to the Huffington Post.

If he got a discount on his condo, it could violate ethics rules. But the complaint could be meritless. The $2,000-per-month DeSantis paid for the 2-bedroom, 2-bath unit appears to be reasonable, reporters found.

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Fresh off a debate in Tampa, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine now says he's leading the race among Tampa Bay voters.

Take this with a grain of salt, since the numbers come straight from Levine's campaign. But the Democrat said he has a 14-point lead over the field among Tampa Bay primary voters.

The poll, conducted during the last two weeks by Public Policy Polling, has Levine at 32 percent, followed by former Congresswoman Gwen Graham at 18 and  Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum at 9 percent. Orlando businessman Chris King is last with three percent.

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Signaling how important the think the Puerto Rican vote is, both Rick Scott and Bill Nelson had events Friday afternoon in Kissimmee.

Scott, who kicked off his campaign in Orlando and mentioned Puerto Ricans almost immediately, is holding a 2 p.m. meeting with community leaders.

"The governor will discuss his continued efforts to support Puerto Rican families both in Florida and in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria recovery continues," Scott's Senate campaign said.

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The Okaloosa County GOP says it's uninvited Roger Stone from its annual dinner next month after he made disparaging remarks about former first lady Barbara Bush, calling her a "nasty drunk" and other things.

"It's tough to lose a speaker when you're three weeks out, but this is what I felt needed to be done out of respect for Barbara Bush," county REC Chairman Mark Franks said in a statement. "I thought he'd be entertaining but for me this went over the line."

Stone disputed the events and said he backed out. "I cancelled my appearance as the sponsors wanted to censor my public comments, which is unacceptable," he told the Northwest Florida Daily News.

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The decision by state Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, not to run for state chief financial officer clears the way in the Republican primary for incumbent CFO Jimmy Patronis, whom Gov. Rick Scott appointed to the job and backs for election in November.

It also sets up what looks like the final general election matchup, with Patronis facing Democrat Jeremy Ring.

Ring said there's good news and bad news for him in the new development.

Keep reading   2 min. read  

The National Rifle Association isn't shy about hating on the legislation that came out of Florida after the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting that killed 17 people.

The NRA's Marion Hammer called the limited measures "political eyewash" that will only "punish law-abiding gun owners." In a subsequent e-mail blast, Hammer called out Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran for his role in pushing the bill. In case the message wasn't clear, the group even sued Florida.  And Hammer continues to threaten those Republicans who did vote for the bill with a hard-hitting op-ed titled "It's time to name GOP betrayers who voted for Florida gun control."

But considering what the NRA was facing immediately after the shooting, it could have been worse.  What lawmakers passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law included modest gun control measures. It imposed a new three-day waiting period for the purchase of all firearms; raised the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 and banned bump stocks.

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Ruth's List Florida, a Tampa-based pro-choice group that supports Democratic women for state and local offices, has a new leader: Pamela Goodman, a business executive from Palm Beach Gardens and the outgoing president of the League of Women Voters of Florida.

As executive director, Goodman will lead the group's efforts to support women candidates. The group said 160 progressive women have filed to run for office, including Gwen Graham, a candidate for governor who has been endorsed by Ruth's List.

"These next few months will be critical for Florida," said Alex Sink, the chair of the Ruth's List board and a former chief financial officer and the Democratic candidate for governor in 2010.

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Florida closed 12 refugee resettlement offices during the past year after President Donald Trump decided to cap annual admissions at 45,000, the lowest in nearly 40 years, according to Ana Ceballos at the Naple Daily News.

Aside from turning away up to 65,000 refugees (under President Barack Obama, the cap was higher, at 110,000), the Trump administration's decision could greatly increase the work load for the overworked Department of Children and Families.

According to the story by Ceballos, those facilities that were closed now refer cases to DCF. That means the agency's caseload, while operating at a normal level now, will "explode" if any more resettlement offices are closed, Yuri Kaplun, a coordinator with Catholic Charities, told Ceballos.

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