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Rubio, Scott decline to lay out legal reasons for opposing Trump impeachment

The senators were among 45 Republicans voting in favor of a motion by Sen. Rand Paul to declare impeachment unconstitutional, because Trump is no longer in office.
President Donald Trump with, from left, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Rick Scott, visit Lake Okeechobee last March. Both Rubio and Scott declined this week to lay out legal reasons for their votes that impeachment would violate the Constitution.
President Donald Trump with, from left, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Rick Scott, visit Lake Okeechobee last March. Both Rubio and Scott declined this week to lay out legal reasons for their votes that impeachment would violate the Constitution.
Published Jan. 29

Florida’s two senators, Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, have made it clear they oppose impeachment of former President Donald Trump, but both declined this week to lay out legal reasons for their votes that impeachment would violate the Constitution.

Scott and Rubio were among 45 Republicans voting in favor of a motion by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to declare impeachment unconstitutional, because Trump is no longer in office.

A Jan.15 report by the Congressional Research Service said the question “is open to debate,” but “it appears that most scholars who have closely examined the question have concluded that Congress has authority to extend the impeachment process to officials who are no longer in office.”

Asked by the Times for their legal rationale for disagreeing, spokesmen for both senators responded with statements on their general opposition to impeachment.

McKinley Lewis said Scott believes impeachment is “a waste of time … vindictive, backward looking, unserious, and constitutionally sketchy.”

A Rubio spokesman referred to a previous tweet and interview by Rubio.

The tweet said impeachment was a “Waste of time” and “isn’t about accountability … It’s about demands from vengeance from the radical left.”

In a Fox News interview Jan. 24, Rubio said impeachment is “stupid” and divisive, comparing the situation to former President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon, which he praised as “important for the country to be able to move forward.”

“We already have a flaming fire in this country and it’s like taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on top of the fire,” Rubio said.

Nowicki files in St. Pete

Vince Nowicki, a young downtowner and real estate agent specializing in investment properties, is taking his first foray into elective politics by running for mayor of St. Petersburg.

Vince Nowicki, a real estate agent specializing in investment properties, is running for mayor of St. Petersburg.
Vince Nowicki, a real estate agent specializing in investment properties, is running for mayor of St. Petersburg. [ Vince Nowicki ]

Nowicki filed this week, seeking to offer “a fresh face” and what he called an alternative to “candidates who have been running on the same issues for eight or 20 years.”

Originally from Baltimore, Nowicki has lived in Florida since 2017. His only previous political involvement was as a campaign volunteer.

The race is non-partisan. Previously a Republican, Nowicki has been registered no-party since he’s been in Florida.

Legg looking at state Senate seat

Former state senator and House member John Legg, an educator who says he could be interested in running for Pasco County school superintendent in four years, also has another potential political iron in the fire.

Legg is currently filed to run in 2022 in the state Senate district held by Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and has a campaign fund of about $150,000.

Former state Sen. John Legg.
Former state Sen. John Legg.

Legg says whether he seeks the Senate seat in 2022, when Simpson is term-limited, may depend on the coming redistricting. He lives in the Trinity area at the southern tip of the district in Pasco County; the district extends north through Citrus and Hernando.

Legg served one Senate term ending in 2016, when redistricting put him into Simpson’s district. He declined to challenge Simpson and redesignated his campaign fund to the 2022 race.

Other Pinellas mayoral races

While Pinellas insiders obsess over the November St. Petersburg mayor’s race, there’s some interesting politics in the county’s beach communities in elections set for March 9.

In Redington Beach, the town’s roughly 1,300 voters will decide the first contested mayor’s race in years, featuring two commissioners who are longtime friends — but one, Fred Steiermann, is a progressive Democrat, and the other, David Will, is a Trump supporter, according to posts on his Facebook page.

Will or Steiermann will replace Nick Simons, who Steiermann said hasn’t been challenged as Redington Beach mayor since he was elected in 2007 and is retiring.

Neither cited major differences on city issues.

“I’ve been friends with Dave (Will) for 20 years, our kids grew up together and we’ve done business together, but we definitely have philosophical differences on national politics and politics closer to home,” said Steiermann.

Will skipped a League of Women Voters candidate forum this week.

He confirmed to the Times via email that his and Steiermann’s families “will all remain friends for many years to come, regardless of the outcome of this race,” and said his “political involvement/goals are municipal, non-partisan politics here in Redington Beach.”

Treasure Island, with about 6,000 voters, will see an old-guard versus new-blood mayor’s race with an imaginative proposal for downtown redevelopment at issue — too imaginative, in the opinion of Commissioner Tyler Payne, 30, who’s challenging Mayor Lawrence Lunn, 84.

Payne is an active Republican who doesn’t rule out seeking higher office later and says Lunn has failed at communication with residents.

“The age difference is telling,” Payne said. “I’m more familiar with technology we can use to keep our residents informed. People tell me they aren’t aware of what the city is doing.”

He said Lunn’s downtown redevelopment proposal is overblown and unrealistic and “has been kept in the dark.”

Lunn described himself as an unusually energetic octogenarian with a long career ranging from engineer and patent attorney to builder.

“I’ll put myself up against anybody half my age,” Lunn said, adding, “I’ve learned a lot since I was 30.”

He suggested Payne just wants a stepping stone to higher office. “My only goal,” Lunn said, “is to make Treasure Island the best it can be.”