Abortion at the polls
Will abortion drive voters to the polls this fall? A poll released by the Republican State Leadership Committee of swing-state voters, including in Florida, suggests not.
The Washington-based group has shared polling data with Republican campaigns across the country, showing voters care more about the economy than the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“While abortion is an issue people care about, the data makes clear that it is not among the top issues that will drive voting behavior in November,” reads a polling memo from RSLC President Dee Duncan. “Instead, this election will remain about (President Joe) Biden’s failing economy.”
The RSLC focuses on winning control of state Legislatures but has shared the data from its poll with numerous GOP campaigns interested in the findings. The organization commissioned Cygnal to poll voters in Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. About 2,007 likely General Election voters were polled, with the sample weighted to a “likely General Election voter universe.”
Results show 37% of voters in battleground states rank the high cost of living and inflation as their top concern going into the fall, with another 16% citing the economy in general. Crime and violence were the chief worry of 9% of voters, and abortion came in with just 8% of voters listing that as a top concern.
For independents, economic issues were even more central, with 60% listing inflation, the economy or jobs as a chief concern, compared to 56% of voters overall. Moreover, less than 40% of likely voters say they would refuse to vote for a candidate simply because their views differ on abortion.
“This data is another reminder that what you see on Twitter and in the press doesn’t necessarily capture reality when it comes to voter behavior,” Duncan writes. “A little more than four months from Election Day, the political environment is still a disaster for state Democrats, state Republicans have a commanding lead on what is far and away the most important issue to voters, and the issues state Democrats are trying to exploit to distract from Biden’s failing economy are not going to be salient enough to save them come November.”
The Biden administration said it will pay travel bills for federal employees in states restricting abortion, including Florida, in order for them to access a procedure. But Sen. Marco Rubio argues it may break federal law to pay for women to leave the state to terminate a pregnancy.
He sent a letter to Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja alleging new guidance violates the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits spending federal dollars to supplement abortions.
“The Biden Administration’s actions and statements over the last several days are focused on undermining pro-life states and now they are even willing to violate long-standing federal law prohibiting the use of taxpayer moneys to fund abortions or abortion services,” Rubio’s letter reads. “The federal government has no business promoting the killing of unborn children. I demand that the agency clarify that the federal government will not provide sick leave for travel related to abortion services.”
The administration policy provides for sick leave for employees and their families in the event they need to travel great distances across state lines in order to obtain “medical care.”
“It is noticeable, therefore, given the obvious intent of the guidance, that nowhere in the guidance is the phrase ‘reproductive services,’ ‘abortion’ or any other abortion-related language,” Rubio said. “One is left to believe these phrases were intentionally omitted in this guidance by lawyers in the executive branch to circumvent Congressionally-mandated Hyde protections, which bars federal funds from being used to pay for most abortions.”
Sen. Rick Scott this week visited Tokyo and met with leaders there on economic issues impacting Japan and the United States.
“I was honored to meet with (Japanese Foreign Affairs) Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, (Defense) Minister Nobuo Kishi and (Economy, Trade and Industry) Vice-Minister Kazuchika Iwata,” Scott shared on Twitter. “We discussed strengthening U.S.-Japan relations and combating aggression from Communist China and Russia.”
Scott’s Senate office said conversations focused on strengthening commercial relations between the nations and shared allies.
The visit was part of a larger swing through the Eastern Hemisphere for the Senator, who also spent the Fourth of July in Camp Humphreys in South Korea and followed his trip to Japan with a stop in Taiwan, where he planned to spend three days discussing bilateral security, economic and trade developments.
A sudden tragedy
Soon after Scott left the country came the stunning assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Senator said he was “outraged and deeply saddened by the sudden and horrific loss.”
“His senseless assassination has shocked the world and stolen from freedom-loving people everywhere a great and true champion of democracy,” Scott said. “Twice in the past two decades, Shinzo Abe was called to serve the people of Japan as their prime minister, and his years both in and out of office were defined by his commitment to freedom, prosperity for Japan and its allies and strengthening the relationship between our great nations. Prime Minister Abe was an unapologetic believer in the power of democracy and one of the strongest voices in support of freedom across the Info-Pacific. He was particularly a champion for peace through strength and stood up for Taiwan against Communist China’s aggression. His loss is devastating to those still fighting to protect our shared ideals, but we must march forward.”
The event with international ramifications drew an immediate response from those in Florida who had worked closely with the world leader. Former President Donald Trump, who met multiple times at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate when both held office, released a statement on Truth Social.
“Really bad news for the world,” Trump wrote. “Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is dead. He was assassinated. His killer was captured and will hopefully be dealt with swiftly and harshly. Few people know what a great man and leader Shinzo Abe was, but history will teach them and be kind. He was a unifier like no other, but above all, he was a man who loved and cherished his magnificent country, Japan. Shinzo Abe will be greatly missed. There will never be another like him!”
It’s been over a year now since The New York Times reported Fort Walton Beach Republican Matt Gaetz could be the target of a sex trafficking investigation. Since that point, many have wondered if the Congressman still faced any legal peril. Continued delays in sentencing for associate Joel Greenberg fueled further speculation but offered no concrete answers.
A federal judge on July 5 agreed to seal his sentencing hearing. The date of the former Seminole County Tax Collector’s sentencing has been delayed repeatedly. He’s now slated to be sentenced in December.
Greenberg has pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a child and to five other federal felonies involving fraud.
His deal requires extensive cooperation with federal investigators looking into others who might have been involved in his crimes. For months, reports of the case spotlighted Gaetz and others in the Greenberg circle of Republican political associates and wild-party friends, involving trips reportedly rife with drugs, prostitutes and money laundering. Greenberg has cooperated with investigators, who have not objected to delays in sentencing.
Greenberg’s attorney, Fritz Scheller of Orlando, filed Tuesday’s court motion contending his client still needs more time to complete his cooperation with the government.
“Said cooperation, which could impact his ultimate sentence, cannot be completed prior to the time of his sentencing. The parties expect that Mr. Greenberg will participate in additional proffers, and a continuance would provide Mr. Greenberg with additional time to do so prior to his sentencing,” the motion argues.
The American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF) spent $43,565 on a trip to Israel for Panama City Republican Neal Dunn and his wife, Leah, in the spring. That was among the most expensive privately funded congressional trips this year so far, according to Legistorm.
The outlet this week reported 11 members of the House in 2022 have accepted trips worth more than $30,000, a high number during an election year. Dunn’s trip was the third-most-expensive so far, behind two others funded by the AIEF for Texas Republican Brian Babin and California Democrat Lou Correa.
Dunn made no secret of the trip, which he called a fact-finding mission in March during an interview with i24 News. He told the English-language foreign outlet that he discussed the threat of a nuclear Iran with leaders of Israel’s current coalition government and with members of the former Benjamin Netanyahu administration.
Sitting members of Congresses immemorial have employed the power of official letterhead to publicize their work during election years. Now, Gainesville Republican Kat Cammack has started sending out a campaign-style pamphlet with a list of agenda priorities and her first-term accomplishments.
On one side of a mailer is a newspaper-style story headline — “Cammack exposes crisis at the border” — with an in-house article about her fact-finding missions to the Mexican border and legislation she filed to bolster support for Border Patrol.
The messaging would feel at home in a campaign mail piece, but they come from Cammack’s congressional office. It’s part of a process called “franking,” and experts told The Gainesville Sun that it’s completely legal so long as she only sends the mail to current constituents.
Of course, in Cammack’s case, it could somewhat limit the effectiveness of the mail, as a congressional map signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis shifts Florida’s 3rd Congressional District to the west, leaving just 56% of her existing constituents within the new lines where she’s seeking re-election this year. She faces five opponents, including Republican Justin Waters, a GOP opponent she beat in 2020 in a 10-way Republican Primary when she won her first term.
Val & the Sheriff
Val Demings, the lead challenger to Rubio in this year’s Senate race, toured a Big Bend community with a Republican Sheriff.
As the Police Chief-turned-Congresswoman continues amplifying her law enforcement background on the trail, the Orlando Democrat toured Lafayette County with Sheriff Brian Lamb.
“I was honored to join Sheriff Lamb to speak with community leaders here in Lafayette County, where I met many hardworking Floridians dealing with rising costs and rising crime.” Demings said. “These communities feel ignored and left behind by too many politicians, and I’m going to change that. As the daughter of a maid and a janitor, I know how devastating these issues can be for working families. In the U.S. Senate, addressing inflation and keeping Florida families safe will be top priorities.”
Demings also joined Lamb for a roundtable with community and business leaders in an 8,400-person county. Her Senate campaign also shared a photo of Demings and the Sheriff in a local restaurant.
In 2020, Lamb won a third term as Sheriff after handily beating a Republican challenger in a Primary and faced no Democratic opposition. That’s in a small county where Republicans make up about 69% of all registered voters.
Noticeably, a news release about the visit made no mention of any coming endorsement from Lamb. But Lamb was not among the 55 Sheriffs to endorse Rubio earlier this year, even though he was part of a group of 59 Sheriffs who endorsed DeSantis the same day.
Vern Buchanan hasn’t secured the House Ways & Means Committee Chairmanship yet, but there’s clearly more interest nationally in supporting his ambitions. The Longboat Key Republican posted a record $900,000 raised in the second quarter, the most he’s ever reported in a Q2 filing over his 16-year career in the House.
That’s not because he needs the money. Besides being the wealthiest member of Florida’s House delegation, he faces a Primary challenge this year from troubled conservative activist Martin Hyde and a rerun General Election with perennial Democratic candidate Jan Schneider. Considering he beat his last two nationally backed Democratic opponents by double-digit margins, the face just isn’t on anyone’s radar this cycle.
But what people could be eyeing is influence. Should Republicans win a majority in the House in November, Buchanan still is the odds-on favorite to Chair its most powerful committee. To that effect, Buchanan has also personally raised $2 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee as the GOP seeks to close a mere 10-seat gap with Democrats and retake control of the lower chamber of Congress.
Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick will have only been on the job for 217 days when the Miramar Democrat faces voters again for the Primary on Aug. 23.
A quirk of DeSantis’ timing for the election to succeed Rep. Alcee Hastings after he died in office last April truncated the newly elected Representative’s first stint in Congress. With that, to meet, greet, and show voters what she’s doing for them, Cherfilus-McCormick faces more of a rush job than most.
Undoubtedly, part of that effort is the “Small Business Expo” her office is holding, beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday at Lauderhill Sports Park.
A Palm Beach County version of the same event is planned for July 19. The location is yet to be determined.
Cherfilus-McCormick has a mobile unit that visits the neighborhoods, and that vehicle will also be at the expos with caseworkers from her office to help residents with federal business to complete.
“Don’t miss our first Broward Small Business Expo,” a promotion from Cherfilus-McCormick’s office reads. “Come to meet our district’s outstanding small businesses. Our goal is to showcase and empower the small businesses of Florida’s 20th Congressional District.”
A spokeswoman from her office did not return an inquiry about how many businesses had registered.
The TRiO Upward Bound program at Palm Beach State College helps prepare low-income students at local high schools for college. One of eight such programs in the country, West Palm Beach Democrat Lois Frankel announced federal funding will continue there for another five years.
The college will receive $1.35 million over the next five years, or $270,375 a year. Right now, the program serves about 65 students from John I. Leonard, Lake Worth and Palm Beach Lakes high schools.
“Congratulations to all these students that are in this program,” Frankel said at a Thursday news conference at the college. “Some of you are off to college to be our next doctors, our lawyers, our computer scientists. We’ve got some really sharp students here.”
The students in the Further Upward program take part in a yearlong program, with classes in the school year and a six-week summer session. Since the program launched in 1999, about 75% of participants ultimately enrolled in colleges or universities after graduating high school.
“I’m very excited that we have another opportunity to roll up our sleeves and serve deserving students by helping them enroll in a college of their choice,’’ said Jim Culver, Upward Bound director at PBSC. “Palm Beach State College provides an excellent platform for me to continue serving in this capacity.”
Frankel visited in June with students receiving help from the college program and announced Glades Central and Pahokee high schools will now benefit from the program as well.
To learn more about TRiO, click on the image below:
Peace in Yemen
Hollywood Democrat Frederica Wilson added her name to the list of Congresspeople demanding an end to U.S. support for a war in Yemen.
“When we commit U.S. military resources to a conflict, we must do our best to protect the innocent and lessen the catastrophic costs of war,” Wilson tweeted. “That’s why I support ending our involvement in Yemen. We cannot stand by and help those committing horrific atrocities.”
The Congresswoman became the 103rd House member to sign a resolution calling for a withdrawal. The U.S. has continued to support ally Saudi Arabia in the conflict despite critics labeling the nation’s tactics as war crimes.
Of note, all but 10 of the co-sponsors of the anti-war resolution are Democrats, most from the Progressive Caucus. But the only other Florida delegation members listed as co-sponsors are Republicans, Gaetz and Bill Posey of Rockledge.
Gaetz was an original co-sponsor when the resolution was introduced in June and has criticized the war in Yemen for years. He previously worked with far-left Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, on legislation to stop U.S. involvement ln 2019.
On this day
July 8, 1999 — “Florida execution turns into bloodbath” via ProDeathPenalty.com — As Allen Lee Davis’ execution happened, it started becoming a hot topic nationwide. Davis was bleeding profusely from his nose, while he was being executed in the electric chair. He would go on to suffer burns on his groin area, leg and his head. The same year, Florida was hearing a petition from Thomas Harrison Provenzano, also a death row inmate, that stated the use of the electric chair was not only a cruel punishment, but it was also an unusual punishment. After all the debates, petitions and hearings, Davis would end up being the last Florida death row inmate to be executed using the electric chair.
July 8, 2021 — “In forceful defense of Afghan withdrawal, Joe Biden says U.S. achieved Its objectives” via The New York Times — Biden vigorously defended his decision to end America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan, asserting the United States can no longer afford the human cost or strategic distraction of a conflict he said strayed far from its initial mission. Speaking after the withdrawal of nearly all U.S. combat forces and as the Taliban surge across the country, Biden, often in blunt and defensive tones, spoke directly to critics of his order to bring an end to American participation in a conflict born from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He said the United States would formally end its military mission at the end of August.
Best wishes to Rep. Brian Mast, who turns 42 on Sunday, July 10.
Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles, edited and assembled by Phil Ammann and Ryan Nicol, with contributions by Anne Geggis and Scott Powers.
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