Monday, October 3, 2016

Patrick Murphy labels Marco Rubio a “puppet of the Koch Brothers” at Tampa gathering


Patrick Murphy labels Marco Rubio a “puppet of the Koch Brothers” at Tampa gathering


Patrick Murphy says that despite the onslaught of negative ads being lobbed against him, he is confident that he will prevail against Republican incumbent Marco Rubio in the race for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat.

“They are outspending us, four-to-one, I think right now, ” the Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful told about three dozen Democratic Party activists at a registration event held at Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters in Tampa’s Ybor City on Sunday afternoon. “An unbelievable amount that the Koch Brothers and special interests are spending to help their little puppet, Marco Rubio, all right? He is doing their bidding in the Senate…he does what they say every time in the Senate.”

The Libre Initiative, a group funded by associates of Charles and David Koch that seeks to persuade Latinos to support conservative candidates, announced a $700,000 buy to run ads in favor of Rubio.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported Saturday that Murphy is being outspent by more than a three-to-one basis. With the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee cutting back on a planned advertising campaign for him, Murphy was asked if he will be able to compete financially over the next five weeks of the campaign.

“I’m very confident that we are going to have the resources to compete,” he said, citing commercials that he said he viewed on Sunday from his own hotel room from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Senate Majority PAC that are supporting his candidacy.

However, on Tampa’s NBC affiliate, WFLA- News Channel 8, on Sunday morning during the broadcast of “Meet The Press,” there were two separate anti-Murphy ads that ran within minutes each other. One of them blasted his support for the Iranian nuclear deal last year. That came from a conservative super PAC called the Senate Leadership Fund, which is spending more than $10 million in anti-Murphy ads this fall in Florida.

“That’s a large misrepresentation of the facts,” Murphy said Sunday about the ad. “This deal with Iran is something I studied. I believe that the number one most important thing that we do is ensure Iran never has access to a nuclear weapon. That’s what we have to focus on. We have to make sure that we are continuing to enforce this deal, but then add new sanctions for human rights violations for the funding of terrorism.”

Much has been made about how Hispanic voters are still unfamiliar with Murphy, a two-term Congressman from the Treasure Coast who doesn’t have nearly the statewide name ID as his Republican opponent. Recently, the Murphy campaign hired Barack Obama’s Hispanic media manager from 2008, Freddy Balsera, to serve as his chief of communications and strategy. And they aired their first Spanish language television and Spanish language radio ad last week. Murphy said it was important for him to remind Latino voters about Rubio’s record since he entered the race in 2015.

“I’m going to be a champion for comprehensive immigration reform and I’m going to stick to that, doesn’t matter what happens in the national scene,” Murphy said, comparing what he said will be a consistent focus on that goal vs. the “flip-flopping” that he says Rubio did on the issue in 2013.

“Not only did he turn against legislation, now he’s blocking it from passing,” said Murphy. “He’s now against Dreamers. He doesn’t want children who were brought to this country through no fault of their own to become citizens and doesn’t believe in a pathway to citizenship.”

Rubio said earlier this year while he was running for president that he opposed President Obama’s deferred action program for undocumented immigrants, a plan known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Murphy said that showed that Rubio has “no core.”

“There’s a lot of information we have to get out there,” he said about the fact that Latinos know little about himself and his opponent.

Regarding the reports that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had attempted to do business inside of Cuba in the late 1990’s, Murphy said, “We’re getting phone calls left and right from people who are saying, ‘didn’t Senator Rubio campaign on this his entire career’?”

“And now the man who he’s endorsed for president is now violating what he claims to be his number one important issue, and he’s still sticking with him?” Murphy asked. “Again, it speaks to character and integrity. If you’re going to flip-flop on immigration. If you’re going to flip-flop on trade. If you’re going to flip-flop on the importance of the embargo? What are you going to stand for?”

FloridaPolitics reached out to Marco Rubio’s campaign for a response.

“Patrick Murphy’s campaign is floundering, so he’s distorting Marco’s record like he distorted his own resume,” said spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas. “Murphy has accomplished nothing in the last four years, and has been repeatedly caught lying about his resume to hide that fact. Marco’s strong record of fighting for Floridians is a stark contrast to Murphy, who has proven untrustworthy and unaccomplished.”

The first debate between Rubio and Murphy will take place in a little more than two more weeks. Murphy said he is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to tell a statewide audience Rubio’s elasticity on “every issue” and his spotty attendance record in the Senate over the past year. Undoubtedly, the Rubio camp will be similarly armed to hit Murphy on some of his vulnerabilities that have been exposed during this campaign season.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

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How Mendoza could make life miserable for Rauner

October 01, 2016

Rich Miller on Springfield

How Mendoza could make life miserable for Rauner

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By Rich Miller



Photo by AP Images

The Illinois comptroller's election is often described as a proxy war between Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan. It is most definitely that, but the result could change the direction of state government.

Rauner appointed fellow Republican Leslie Munger to the job after Judy Baar Topinka, the fiercely independent and outspoken Republican incumbent, died about a month after her re-election in 2014. Normally, Munger would've received a full four-year term, but Madigan decided that was too long so the Democrats changed the law. Rauner could appoint Munger for two years only.

Several months after Munger's appointment, Madigan helped recruit Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza into the race. And then he, um, nudged state Sen. Daniel Biss out of the Democratic primary to give Mendoza a clear path to the general election.


As a matter of both pride and credibility, the governor has an obligation to help his appointee win. And since Rauner and Madigan are engaged in a long and nasty war, and since Mendoza is Madigan's candidate, the speaker most definitely wants to see her prevail.

Whoever wins this contest will obviously give their political overlords bragging rights. Normally, a Democrat would be heavily favored because it's a presidential election year. But the spectacularly wealthy Rauner is expected to dump a fortune into Munger's campaign.

And this is about far more than one election.

Most people don't always have the money to pay bills as they arrive. If you write a big check before the next paycheck comes in, bad things can happen.

The same thing applies to the comptroller. Even in flush times, if she pays the state's bills (or even a few large state bills) as they come in the door, she can easily crash the state's finances. But without a proper state budget, and amid a severe revenue shortage caused by the partial expiration last year of the income tax hike, these are far from flush times.

So a hostile comptroller would be a bad thing for the governor. Democrat Mendoza could use the power of the checkbook to force the Republican governor into a more compliant position, even without actually crashing state finances.

Munger has used her position to highlight the state's massive $8 billion-plus bill backlog in a way that puts pressure on the General Assembly. She's mainly done this by refusing to pay state legislators when their checks are due, putting them in the same payment line with social services agencies.

And she's also often taken heat off the governor (or put heat on his detractors) by quickly paying (or not so quickly paying) invoices at his request. The governor's office has been running a triage operation for well over a year to keep vital government services from crashing due to lack of revenue while simultaneously battling a belligerent Legislature. A friendly comptroller has been a great help to him.

This impasse could continue throughout Rauner's entire first term, so an antagonistic comptroller could refuse to honor his requests, which would put him in an awful spot.

Mendoza is a pleasant person who can also be a sharp-elbowed street fighter. “I will be an independent, truth-telling fiscal watchdog,” she pledged during the Democratic National Convention in July, “not a lapdog to Rauner.”

So unlike Munger, who has used her media conferences about unpaid bills to blast the General Assembly, Mendoza could use her position to constantly harangue Rauner, perhaps also doing what Topinka did to undermine the credibility of the Quinn administration by showing how it used gimmicks to mask the size of the deficit.

In other words, a lot is at stake here.

A contributing columnist to Crain's, Rich Miller publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and

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