Friday, February 20, 2015

Is The Florida Senate Race Staring To Clarify Itself?


New Dem Patrick Murphy

A lot hinges on Rubio, of course. He has his flip-floppin', confused little heart set on a presidential/vice presidential run. But Florida Republicans-- and now the NRSC-- are begging him to run for reelection, frightened that they could lose the seat, especially with Hillary on the top of the ticket (and particularly so if Jeb isn't the GOP nominee).

On the Democratic side of the aisle, there's already a battle raging between the right-of-center Establishment and grassroots Democrats who represent the legitimate aspirations of working families and who embrace progressive values and principles. Alan Grayson is emerging as the preferred nominee of the latter. The former comes down to a battle of ambitions between freshman Blue Dog Gwen Graham (her father's daughter and the Democratic with the worst overall voting record in Congress) and New Dem-- and life-long Republican-- Patrick Murphy (also the product for his father's ambitions).

According to ProgressivePunch, Graham's CrucialVote Score for the 2015-16 session is a dismal 10.00, the worst Democrat in Congres-- and worst than a dozen Republican scores. But without her, the Florida Democrat would be Murphy with his 11.11 score, exactly tied with Florida Republican Carlos Curbelo. Both Murphy and Graham have voted lockstep with Boehner across the board on almost every key issue that has come before Congress this session. And these two want to represent Florida Democrats! They are working out a detente so that they don't run against each other and that only one of them gets into the race, presumably against Grayson, if progressives can persuade him to give up his relatively safe House seat and run. Murphy doesn't care about his House seat and hopes to run for governor after he loses the Senate race.

Meanwhile, lurking in the background-- encouraging the clownish Murphy for her own reasons-- has been Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the queen of Democratic Party corruption in Florida. If she gives up the dream of being the first Jewish Speaker of the House, she can see herself as a senator, stepping in to "save" the party form a divisive primary between Grayson and Murphy (or Graham). That dream may have died today when John Morgan, possibly encouraged by the Obama and/or Clinton camp (each of which wants Wasserman Schultz out of her DNC chair), exposed her manipulative behavior around the marijuana referendum. Luckily for her, Morgan wasn't wearing an FBI wiretap. Marc Caputo, who's been following her sleazy career for years, wrote it up for Politico today.
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office offered to change her position on medical marijuana if a major Florida donor recanted his withering criticism of her, according to emails obtained by Politico.

The proposal to Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan was straightforward: retract critical statements he made to a reporter in return for Wasserman Schultz publicly backing his cannabis initiative that she had trashed just months earlier. Morgan declined the offer with a sharp email reply sent to a go-between, who described the congresswoman as being in a “tizzy.”

“No,” Morgan responded. “She is a bully. I beat bullies up for a living.”

Morgan said he forwarded the email chain to POLITICO on Thursday to show how “thin-skinned” and transactional Wasserman Schultz’s political team is, he said in a brief phone conversation.

The bad blood between Morgan and Wasserman Schultz-- which stems from her critical comments over the medical-marijuana initiative he bankrolled last year, and which failed narrowly-- boiled over again this week when Democrats started buzzing about her interest in running for Senate if Republican Marco Rubio decides to leave the seat for a presidential bid.

Morgan and three medical-marijuana advocacy organizations blasted the South Florida representative for her criticisms of his 2014 initiative. It fell 2.4 percentage points shy of the needed 60 percent voter-approval threshold for a Florida constitutional amendment.

“Almost 58 percent of Florida voters supported medical marijuana and I’d be surprised if that many support her,” said Bill Piper, national affairs director with the Washington-based Drug Policy Alliance.

“That should be a lesson for Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” he said. “Florida voters like this policy more than her. And we’ll make sure people know her position.”

Still, Wasserman Schultz is a nationally known figure, a good fundraiser and would be an early favorite to win a Democratic primary, political observers say.

The most likely Democrat to run for Rubio’s seat, Rep. Patrick Murphy, has a centrist voting record that could leave him vulnerable in a primary but strong in a general election. The more liberal Wasserman Schultz has the opposite problem. And, unlike Murphy, she has had bad relations with numerous Democratic insiders.

Morgan plans to get the proposed marijuana amendment on the ballot again in 2016, making it a top campaign issue in the presidential election in Florida, the nation’s most-populous swing state.

The clash with Morgan began in June when Wasserman Schultz issued a rare public statement criticizing the medical-marijuana initiative he helped draft, and to which he committed $4 million of his own money to pass.

Echoing Republican talking points, Wasserman Schultz suggested the proposal could lead to a variant of OxyContin-distributing “pill mills.” Wasserman Schultz has previously expressed concerns, as a parent, about marijuana decriminalization because she doesn’t want to make it easier for kids to get the drug.

At the time, Morgan blasted Wasserman Schultz, calling her “despised…an irritant…irrelevant.”

Wasserman Schultz responded by having her staff call around to drum up statements of support from other Democrats, including then-Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist, who works at Morgan’s law firm, knowledgeable sources say. The Wasserman Schultz effort culminated in a tense speaker-phone call with Crist’s campaign staffers, who were interrupted during a TV commercial shoot.

The congresswoman’s more recent dispute with Morgan unfolded Wednesday afternoon. Politico sent an email at 3:50 p.m. to Wasserman Schultz’s office seeking comment on criticisms from Morgan and other medical marijuana advocates. Three minutes later, an adviser replied that she had no comment.

In the meantime, Wasserman Schultz’s office sprung into action. Her team reached out to the campaign manager for the medical marijuana initiative-- Ben Pollara, a top Democratic fundraiser and consultant in Miami-- and offered him a deal.

Pollara, who refused to comment, detailed the offer in an email to Morgan a few hours later, the donor said, with the subject line: “DWS.”

“In a tizzy over this Politico story. Saying she might be willing to support new amendment. Any chance you’ll retract your statement,” Pollara wrote.

Morgan responded about two hours later in his email calling her a “bully.”

“Actions have consequences,” Morgan told Politico on Thursday. “Her days of pushing people around are over.”
Morgan is not backing down. He sent out a letter to his list today with the subject line "We don't negotiate with prohibitionists."

"Or bullies," he added in the first line.
When Debbie Wasserman Schultz came out last year against Amendment 2, she didn't just simply empower our opposition-- she obstructed thousands of patients who desperately need access to this medicine. Her poor timing and very public stand against medical marijuana helped squander the efforts of thousands of volunteers and donors.

Now she wants to have a conversation in exchange for me toning down my criticism of her position last year (and the damage she caused)? Not a chance.

Because, while I don't believe she is well loved or personally has much influence in this state, I'll allow her the possibility that she might have changed a few minds that we needed. Staring down a campaign funded by a billionaire, we needed all the help we could get. She turned her back on people with Cancer, MS, PTSD, epilepsy, severe neuropathic pain, and more. She could have even stayed silent. She didn't. She made a big show of it.

I won't be bullied or trade favors when it comes to medical marijuana... Everything else is B.S. politics in order to rehabilitate the damage she's done to herself by being on the wrong side of the issue.  It's not support-- it's a quid pro quo and I won't do it. 3.4 million voters came out for medical marijuana-- and she should know that if she runs for Senate, we're not going to fall in line just because she's more open to it now.
New Dem Debbie Wasserman Schultz

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At 6:39 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Finally someone who's able to stand up to Debbie's treacherous behavior good for you John.


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