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Democratic veteran Simone Ward to direct Clinton's Florida campaign

 Florida Governor Rick Scott, right, talks to members of the media about the Florida Legislature passing immigrant tuition bill during the 2014 session outside of the Florida House. Rep. Rep. Jeanette M. Nunez, R- Miami, sponsor of the House bill, center, and Florida Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez- Cantera, left, look on Friday, May 2, 2014.


Florida Governor Rick Scott, right, talks to members of the media about the Florida Legislature passing immigrant tuition bill during the 2014 session outside of the Florida House. Rep. Rep. Jeanette M. Nunez, R- Miami, sponsor of the House bill, center, and Florida Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez- Cantera, left, look on Friday, May 2, 2014.

Simone Ward, former national political director of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, will be the new Florida state director of Hillary Clinton's campaign, overseeing efforts to deliver the state's 27 electoral votes to the former first lady. She is a well-regarded veteran of Democratic campaigns, having worked previously as campaign manager for Natalie Tennant's Senate campaign in West Virginia and at several positions at the Democratic National Committee, including director of African-American outreach and then national constituency director. She was campaign manager for Sen. Barbara Mikulski in Maryland in 2010 and before that worked for Planned Parenthood and EMILY's List.

Her selection is something of a departure from Barack Obama's Florida campaign hires in that Ward has little experience in Florida that we know of. Obama in 2008 hired Steve Schale as his Florida campaign director and in 2012 hired Ashley Walker.

The Clinton campaign has held off on announcing general election campaign hires while focusing on the primaries, but the nomination is no longer in doubt after Clinton's recent wins.

Rubio stays neutral

Marco Rubio appears to be warming up to Donald Trump, saying Friday his "performance has improved significantly." Rubio has also continued to withhold an endorsement of Ted Cruz, even though he previously praised him as the conservative in the race.

Last Sunday on Univision, Rubio said it appeared Trump will lock down the nomination.

"If he keeps winning delegates like he did the other night in New York, I think he's going to reach that number," Rubio said on Al Punto Florida. "But let's see. There are still other states to go."

And Rubio, who continues to hold on to more than 100 delegates, has warned against a contested convention.

"Look, let's not divide the party. You have someone here who has all these votes, very close to get 1,237, let's not ignore the will of the people or they're going to be angry. Delegates may decide on that reason that they decide to vote for Donald Trump, but if they don't it's not illegitimate in any way," he told Miami radio host Jimmy Cefalo.

"I've always said I'm going to support the Republican nominee, and that's especially true now that it's apparent that Hillary Clinton will be the Democrat nominee," Rubio said.

Jolly's 'Stop Act' slow to gain support

The U.S. Senate campaign of Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, is counting on an outpouring of public support for his bill to stop federal officials from spending so much time raising money to help carry him into the U.S. Senate. He has earned a ton of publicity over his "Stop Act" barring members of Congress from directly asking for campaign contributions, including a glowing feature on 60 Minutes last Sunday.

But whether or not the public embraces it, so far few of his congressional colleagues are.

The bill picked up only two more co-sponsors this week, giving the Stop Act eight endorsers.

"Republicans, Democrats and Independents can all agree on one thing — the public did not elect members of Congress to go to Washington and spend their time raising money for their re-election," Jolly said in a news release heralding the backing of Reps. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania and Alan Grayson of Florida. "They are not paying members $174,000 a year to spend in some cases 20 or 30 hours a week on the phone dialing for dollars."

Said Grayson: "Money is the original sin of politics and government."

The other sponsors are Reps. Sean Duffy, R-WI, Walter Jones, R-NC, John Mica, R-Winter Park, Rick Nolan, D-Minn., Rich Nugent, R-Spring Hill, and Reid Ribble, R-WI.

So wrong

"I think when Donald Trump debates Hillary Clinton she's going to go down like Monica Lewinsky," Broward County Republican chairman Bob Sutton told the Washington Post.

It did not go over well:

"Mr. Sutton owes an apology to Hillary Clinton and the women of Broward County. He needs to resign. This is indicative of the open and blatant misogyny of the Republican Party in the era of Trump. There is no excuse for his behavior, and the outright contempt his comments have shown for women." — Broward County Democratic Party chair Cynthia Busch.

"Without question, Mr. Sutton must apologize and resign immediately. Furthermore, Florida GOP chairman Blaise Ingoglia must end his stunning silence and condemn this obscene rhetoric. To say that these vile, sexist comments have no place in our politics would be a profound understatement." — Florida Democratic Party chair Allison Tant.

"While Republican Party leaders have long pushed policies that deny women their rights, Donald Trump's ugly, misogynistic and divisive rhetoric is now giving the GOP permission to be derogatory and hateful. The comments today from this local Republican county chairman reveal how deeply sexism and chauvinism is embedded in the Republican Party. Comments like these are insulting to all women regardless of political party and have no place in our nation's discourse. I call on my counterpart at the RNC to join me in condemning the use of any language that seeks to belittle and degrade women. Hopefully we can at least agree on that." — Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Sutton apologized:

"In an effort to show my enthusiasm for defeating Hillary Clinton this November, I made a statement that was both unnecessary and inappropriate," he said in a statement released by the state GOP. "I sincerely apologize for anyone that I may have offended. I look forward to returning to talking about the issues facing our nation."

Donald Trump already has signalled his readiness to go after Bill Clinton's infidelity, so this likely be a theme we will see again this year.

Times staff writer Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz.

Winner of the week

Florida utility companies. The champagne corks had to be popping at the Duke Energy headquarters last week, with the announcement from one of the most vocal consumer advocates and critics of Florida's utilities: Democratic state Rep. Dwight Dudley of St. Petersburg won't run for re-election in November.

Loser of the week

Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Anyone seen a pulse in the U.S. Senate campaign of Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera lately? He lags in money-raising, is generating little grass roots buzz, and even his boss, Gov. Rick Scott, often sounds more enthusiastic about businessman Carlos Beruff.

Democratic veteran Simone Ward to direct Clinton's Florida campaign 04/30/16 [Last modified: Saturday, April 30, 2016 9:54pm]
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