Saturday, June 16, 2018
Politics

David Jolly, Alex Sink in dead heat before Monday debate

It's a common refrain among Republican politicos, and it has to drive David Jolly nuts: Republicans can win the special election to replace the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young in Congress, but Democrats have to win it to have any hope at capturing a majority in the U.S. House. Makes it sound like the race may not be as much of a priority for the GOP as it is for Nancy Pelosi.

House Speaker John Boehner even said it to Republican members last week when Jolly went to Washington to speak to them. The common narrative to this special election is largely accurate: Democrats recruited an A-list candidate in Alex Sink, while the GOP A-listers took a pass and Republicans wound up with an obscure rookie for a nominee.

That's true, but both sides agree Sink vs. Jolly is a dead-heat race at this point, even as Sink lately has overwhelmingly outspent Jolly on TV ads.

Excuse the promotion, but all this makes Monday's Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 debate (live on Bay News 9 at 7 p.m.) a potentially pivotal moment in the campaign. Non-Brighthouse customers can watch it live on CSPAN 3.

This is a nationally watched race where partisan groups working separately from Sink and Jolly could really make the difference, and recent TV ad buys by outside Republican groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS suggest the GOP establishment is starting to realize how much the seat is within its grasp to maintain.

Since mid January, Democrats have bought more than $3 million in TV time to help Sink, while Republicans have bought more than $1 million to help Jolly.

Libertarian Lucas Overby will also be in Monday's debate.

Latvala interviewed

Check out state House candidate Chris Latvala on Political Connections today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Accounting for travel

The National Republican Congressional Committee is airing a TV ad hitting Sink for her use of a state plane while she was Florida CFO: "She used the taxpayer-funded plane so she could get to a vacation in the Bahamas," the ad says of Sink, who reimbursed the state $17,000 for flights after the Times/Herald wrote about them.

But Republican rival Jolly isn't touching that Bahamas plane attack: "We sent out a mailing and I said to our people I don't want anything about her trip to the Bahamas on my mailing. The NRCC wants to do that, but we're not doing that," Jolly said. "I understand there is some nuance to it —­ the fact that she took the plane from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and then took her own flight to get to the Bahamas."

As a former aide to the late Rep. Young, Jolly is no stranger to taxpayer-funded flights himself. Federal records show that between 2003 and 2005, he flew overseas to Italy, France, Britain, Spain, Belgium, Austria and Crete at a cost to taxpayers of more than $7,100. Between 1998 and 2006, he spent more than $38,000 traveling between Washington and Florida.

"It was all official business," said Jolly who accompanied Young on delegation trips to Defense Department facilities across the world and frequently traveled to the congressional district as part of his job.

And while he's not knocking Sink for the Bahamas trip, Jolly says criticism for her using a state plane to get to and from political events, as she did, is fair game.

"The issue on Alex was that it was political affairs, not official business," he said. "Every single one of (my trips) were authorized government travel. If we threw in all of the authorized government travel for Alex, I'm sure there'd be a thousand times more."

More than an apology

When NBC Miami aired a news segment with a graphic that mistakenly called the state GOP the "Reprehensive Party of Florida," the state party issued a strong statement demanding an apology. The party got the expression of contrition promptly Friday from NBC ­— and from the media company that put the news package together, Tallahassee-based Capitol News Service. The company's boss, Mike Vasilinda, said he went a step further.

"The person responsible for this has been fired," he said. "We take this very seriously." He also issued an apology on his website.

Marc Caputo and Alex Leary contributed to this week's Buzz.

   
Comments
GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

WASHINGTON ó Congressional Republicans distanced themselves Thursday from the Trump administrationís aggressive policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border even as the White House cited the Bible in defending its "zero tol...
Published: 06/14/18
Sarah Sanders and  Raj Shah are planning to step down, per CBS report

Sarah Sanders and Raj Shah are planning to step down, per CBS report

Press secretary Sarah Sanders and principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah are considering stepping down, according to a CBS report. Sanders promptly responded in a Tweet saying, "I love my job and am honored to work for @POTUS." Does @CBSNews k...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Fed raises key rate and sees possible acceleration in hikes

Fed raises key rate and sees possible acceleration in hikes

WASHINGTON ó The Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year and signaled that it may step up its pace of rate increases because of solid economic growth and rising inflation. The Fed now foresees four rate hi...
Published: 06/13/18
Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister hits $1 million mark in first bid for election

Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister hits $1 million mark in first bid for election

TAMPA ó Law enforcement officers never want to be outgunned. Neither do political candidates.Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister need not worry.The Republican candidate has amassed what appears to be a record-sized war chest of just more than $1 mil...
Published: 06/12/18
Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

So the Supreme Court is in favor of voter suppression.Or is it election integrity?I suppose your interpretation depends on your party affiliation.Liberals seem convinced that an Ohio voting law upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday is a devious plot ...
Published: 06/12/18
Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

Romano: It ainít voter suppression if you bother to show up

So the Supreme Court is in favor of voter suppression.Or is it election integrity?I suppose your interpretation depends on your party affiliation.Liberals seem convinced that an Ohio voting law upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday is a devious plot ...
Published: 06/12/18
Trumpís tougher Cuba policy having little impact on Tampa area

Trumpís tougher Cuba policy having little impact on Tampa area

TAMPA ó June 16 will mark a year since President Trump announced a tougher Cuba travel policy, but unlike in much of the nation, the changes donít seem to have hurt local bookings to the island.The number of people traveling between Tampa and Havana ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18
Trump, Kim Jong Un arrive in Singapore for historic summit

Trump, Kim Jong Un arrive in Singapore for historic summit

SINGAPORE - President Donald Trump arrived here Sunday night ahead of a potentially historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the first meeting between the leaders of two countries that have been sworn enemies for almost seven decades.Air...
Published: 06/11/18
Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump made at least $82 million in outside income last year while serving in the White House, filings show

Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump made at least $82 million in outside income last year while serving in the White House, filings show

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the presidentís daughter and son-in-law, brought in at least $82 millionvin outside income while serving as senior White House advisers during 2017, according to new financial disclosure forms released Monday.Ivanka Tr...
Published: 06/11/18
Supreme Court allows Ohio voter purge

Supreme Court allows Ohio voter purge

WASHINGTON ó The Supreme Court is allowing Ohio to clean up its voting rolls by targeting people who havenít cast ballots in a while. The justices rejected, by a 5-4 vote Monday, arguments that the practice violates a federal law intended to increase...
Published: 06/11/18