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Most Southern U.S. House Democrats keeping their powder dry on Trump impeachment

Just 17 of 50 Southern members have come out for impeachment inquiry, most representing safe Democratic districts

♦ By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

WASHINGTON (CFP) — A majority of members of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives have now come out publicly in favor of launching an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, but Southern members are showing more caution about taking that political plunge.

As of August 1, just 17 of the 50 Southern Democrats in the House have called for an impeachment inquiry, all but two of whom represent safe Democratic or majority-minority districts where support for impeachment presents them with little future political peril.

Just two of the 10 Southern Democrats who flipped Republican seats in 2018 — Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida and Jennifer Wexton of Virginia — have come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry. And none of the five Southern Democrats representing districts Trump carried in 2016 — Lucy McBath of Georgia, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, and Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria of Virginia — have taken that step.

Five other Democrats at the top of the Republican target list for 2020 — Colin Allred and Lizzie Fletcher of Texas, and Donna Shalala, Charlie Crist and Stephanie Murphy of Florida — are also not supporting an impeachment inquiry.

The list of Southern Democrats who have so far not offered public support for an impeachment inquiry includes some of high-profile members, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee; civil rights icon John Lewis of Georgia; and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 ranking Democrat in the House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House leadership have been resisting calls to move forward on impeachment, which is why many of the more veteran members have not offered their support.

Here is a state-by-state breakdown of which Southern Democrats have and have not come out for an impeachment inquiry:

Alabama
Not Yet In Support: Terri Sewell

Florida
Support: Mucarsel-Powell, Val Demings, Ted Deutch
Not Yet In Support: Murphy, Crist, Shalala, Wasserman Schultz, Al Lawson, Darren Soto, Kathy Castor, Alcee Hastings, Lois Frankel, Frederika Wilson

Georgia
Not Yet In Support: Lewis, McBath, Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson, David Scott

Kentucky
Support: John Yarmuth

Louisiana
Support: Cedric Richmond

Mississippi
Support:
Bennie Thompson

North Carolina
Support: G.K. Butterfield, Alma Adams
Not Yet In Support: David Price

Oklahoma
Not Yet In Support: Horn

South Carolina
Not Yet In Support: Cunningham, Clyburn

Tennessee
Support: Steve Cohen
Not Yet In Support: Jim Cooper

Texas
Support: Veronica Escobar, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Al Green, Joaquin Castro, Filemon Vela, Lloyd Doggett
Not Yet In Support: Fletcher, Allred, Vicente Gonzalez, Henry Cuellar, Sylvia Garcia, Eddie Bernice-Johnson, Marc Veasey

Virginia
Support: Wexton, Don Beyer
Not Yet In Support: Luria, Spanberger, Bobby Scott, Donald McEacherin, Gerry Connolly

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Rubio, Murphy to face off in Florida U.S. Senate race

Wasserman Schultz beats back Bernie-allied rival; Corrine Brown out

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

florida mugGAINESVILLE, Florida (CFP) — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio handily won renomination in Florida’s Republican primary and will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in a race that will help determine which party controls the Senate.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

Rubio took 72 percent in the August 30 vote, easily defeating businessman Carlos Beruff, who garnered just 18 percent. On the Democratic side, Murphy was the clear winner, taking 60 percent of the vote, compared to just 18 percent for his main challenger, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.

The bad news for Grayson continued, as his wife’s attempt to keep his 9th District U.S. House seat in the family sputtered in the Democratic primary.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Meanwhile, in South Florida’s 23rd District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz  beat back a challenge from Tim Canova, turning aside an effort by angry Bernie Sanders supporters to force her from Congress over accusations that she, as chair of the Democratic National Committee, showed favoritism to Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.

Wasserman Schultz took 57 percent to 43 percent for Canova, who spent more than $3 million trying to unseat the veteran congresswoman.

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown

However, another veteran Democrat was not as fortunate. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, who was indicted on corruption charges in July, was defeated in the 5th District primary by Al Lawson, a former state legislator from Tallahassee, in what was likely the last chapter in a 34-year-long political career.

Lawson won 48 percent to 40 percent for Brown.

A redraw of state’s congressional map, ordered by the Florida Supreme Court, substantially altered Brown’s district, forcing her to run in  a swath of new territory outside of her Jacksonville base. Federal prosecutors have also accused Brown of conspiring with her chief of staff to convert a scholarship fund into a private slush fund used to pay for her political promotion and personal expenses. She has denied the charges.

Rubio initially decided to give up his Senate seat to pursue the Republican presidential nomination. But after his White House aspirations fizzled, he reversed course, prompting the departure of three of the four major candidates then in the race, all but Beruff.

Speaking to supporters in Kissimmee, the senator dismissed Murphy as an “old-fashioned liberal” handpicked for the Senate by Democratic leaders and a dilettante whose wealth family has given him “everything he’s every wanted.”

“If Patrick Murphy wants to be a U.S. Senator, he’s going to have to earn it by beating the son of a bartender and a maid who came to this country in search of a better life,” he said, employing details from his own biography that were a staple of his run for president.

But speaking to his supporters in Palm Beach County, Murphy criticized Rubio for his poor attendance in the Senate while he was running for president.

“Marco Rubio is the worst of Washington because he puts himself first every time,” Murphy said. “He gave up on his job. He gave up on Florida.”

Murphy also pounced on Rubio’s statement on CNN a day before the primary that he would not commit to serving his full Senate term, saying “no one can make that commitment because you don’t know what the future’s going hold in your life personally or politically.”

Murphy retorted: “Guess what, senator. I’ve got two words for you. I can.”

In his battle against Grayson, Murphy — who was a registered Republican until 2012, when he switched parties to run for Congress — had the backing of virtually all of the Democratic establishment, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson

Party leaders were fearful that a victory by the outspoken Grayson — who regularly subjects reporters to profanity-laden tirades and once had to apologize after calling a female lobbyist “a K Street whore” — would spell disaster in November.

During the primary campaign, Grayson also faced domestic abuse allegations made by his ex-wife. He denied ever hitting her, but the story prompted two liberal groups — Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee — to reverse their endorsements.

In the end, Grayson not only lost to Murphy by more than 40 points but also barely edged out a lesser known candidate, political newcomer Pam Keith, for second place. Keith had snagged a surprise endorsement from one of Florida’s largest newspapers, The Miami Herald.

In addition to helping torpedo Brown in the 5th District, the new map made the 2nd District, which takes in the middle of the Florida Panhandle, more Republican, prompting Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham to retire.

After a nasty campaign with substantial spending by outside groups, Republicans chose Neal Dunn, a Panama City urologist, over Mary Thomas, a state government lawyer from Tallahassee. Dunn took 41 percent to 39 percent for Thomas, who was trying to become the first Indian-American woman ever elected to Congress.

After Grayson gave up his 9th District to run for the Senate, both his wife, Dena Grayson, and one of his top aides, Susannah Randolph, launched campaigns to succeed him. But State Senator Darren Soto beat them both in the Democratic primary, which is tantamount to election in the heavily Democratic Orlando-based district.

Grayson took 36 percent of the vote, compared to 18 percent each for Randolph and Dina Grayson.

In the 18th District, which Murphy gave up to run for the Senate, Democrats selected Randy Perkins, a multimillionaire businessman from Delray Beach, while Republicans went with Brian Mast, an Army veteran who lost both his legs while serving as a bomb disposal specialist in Afghanistan.

The 18th District, which takes in parts of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, is likely to be a genuine toss-up in November.

The 26th District, which takes in the Florida Keys and southwest Miami-Dade County, will feature a rematch between Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo and the man he beat in 2014, former Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia.

While Curbelo was unopposed in the GOP primary, Garcia eaked out an 800-vote win over  Annette Taddeo in the Democratic primary.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wassermann Schultz out as Democratic chair

Florida congresswoman heckled by Bernie Sanders supporters at Florida delegation caucus

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

florida mugPHILADELPHIA (CFP) — Under fire for leaked internal emails containing critical comments about Bernie Sanders and his presidential campaign, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida is stepping down as chair of the Democratic National Committee.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

And after a raucous protest by Sanders supporters at a morning meeting of the Florida caucus, Wasserman Schultz abandoned plans to gavel in the first session of the Democratic National Convention July 25.

She told her hometown newspaper, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, that she canceled her appearance “in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note.”

The DNC had already decided to replace Wasserman Schultz as the permanent convention chair, a position normally filled by the party chair if the House Speaker is of the other party.

In a statement issued on the eve of the convention announcing her departure as DNC chair, Wasserman Schultz had said that she would open and close the convention and “address our delegates about the stakes involved in this election, not only for Democrats but for all Americans.”

She also said she would campaign for Hillary Clinton in the fall, whom she called “a friend I have always believed in and know will make a great president.”

The controversy over the emails generated an ugly scene at the Florida caucus meeting Monday morning, where Wasserman Schultz was heckled by Sanders supporters.

“So I can see there’s a little bit of interest in my being here, and I appreciate that interest,” she told the crowd as she struggled to be heard over the protestors.

When they would not stop, Wasserman Schultz finally fired back:

“We know that the voices in this room that are standing up and being disruptive — we know that that’s not the Florida that we know.”

Wasserman Schultz, who was Clinton’s campaign co-chair during her unsuccessful run for president in 2008, was appointed as head of the DNC in 2011 by President Obama.

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders supporters complained that the DNC, under Wasserman Schultz’s direction, was showing favoritism toward Clinton in their intra-party tussle.

The internal emails, leaked by Wikileaks, added fuel to those complaints, with documents showing Wasserman Schultz questioning Sanders’ Democratic bona fides and criticizing some of his top campaign operatives.

The leaked emails also showed DNC officials — though not Wasserman Schultz — discussing whether to question Sanders about being an atheist.

Her contentious relationship with the Sanders campaign has spilled over in her race for re-election in Florida’s 23rd District, where she is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Sanders supporter Tim Canova, who has raised more than $2 million in an effort to unseat her.

The district takes in southern Broward County and Miami Beach.

Bernie Sanders endorses Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s primary challenger

Sanders also says he’ll replace Florida congresswoman as head of the Democratic National Committee

florida mugWASHINGTON (CFP) — U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and his supporters have long complained that Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been unfair to his presidential campaign.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

And now, he’s trying to exact some political revenge by endorsing Wasserman Schultz’s Democratic primary challenger in Florida’s 23rd District, Tim Canova.

“Clearly, I favor her opponent,” Sanders said in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, which aired May 22. “His views are much closer to mine than to Wasserman Schultz’s.”

Sanders also said that if he wins the White House, he will replace her as head of the DNC.

In response, Wasserman Schultz released a statement saying that even though Sanders is now backing Canova, “I remain, as I have been from the beginning, neutral in the presidential Democratic primary.”

Sanders and his supporters have been highly critical of the DNC chair for what they see as her tilt toward his rival, Hillary Clinton, including scheduling debates on weekends when audiences were small in order to blunt his populist appeal.

Wasserman Schultz has been officially neutral in the 2016 campaign. However, in 2008, she was the national co-chair of Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, and the two women have had a long association.

Congressional candidate Tim Canova

Congressional candidate Tim Canova

Canova, 56, is a law professor and Sanders supporter from Hollywood making his first bid for elected office in the 23rd District, which takes in southern Broward County and Miami Beach.

His campaign has raised more than $1 million to challenge Wasserman Schultz, although she has outpaced him in fundraising. She has also been endorsed by President Obama.

In the presidential primary back in March, Clinton pummeled Sanders by more than 30 points in Broward County, which does not bode well for Canova’s chances in a similar proxy fight with Wassserman Schultz.

Still, the primary challenge is proving something of a headache for the DNC chair, with South Florida media noting an uptick in her campaigning for what had been considered an unassailable seat. This is the first time in her 12-year congressional career that she has faced primary competition.

Debbie Wassermann Schultz’s primary challenger raises eye-popping pile of cash

Tim Canova’s campaign raises $1 million in four months

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com

florida mugHOLLYWOOD, Florida (CFP) — U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz may be in for the fight of her political career against a Democratic primary challenger who is raising a small mountain of cash to use against her.

Congressional candidate Tim Canova

Congressional candidate Tim Canova

Tim Canova, a law professor from Hollywood who criticizes Wasserman Schultz for being insufficiently liberal, has broken the $1 million mark in campaign fundraising, his campaign has announced.

He described his campaign as a “grassroots movement that will restore a voice in our democracy to everyday people and demand accountability from our leaders.”

If that sounds a lot like Bernie Sanders, it is by design. Canova has tied himself firmly to the Vermont senator’s coattails in his effort to oust Wasserman Schultz, who is also chair of the Democratic National Committee.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Sanders partisans have been critical of Wasserman Schultz and the DNC, complaining they are showing partiality to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race. Now, that anger has spilled over into the primary in Florida’s 23rd District, which takes in southern Broward County and Miami Beach.

While Canova has raised enough money to be competitive, he still trails Wasserman Schultz in the money chase. She has raised $1.77 million as of March 15, the last time candidates reported fundraising numbers to the Federal Election Commission.

In fact, Wasserman Schultz has already spent more money on her campaign–$1.3 million–than Canova has raised for the August 30 primary.

And in the presidential primary back in March, Clinton pummeled Sanders by more than 30 points in Broward County, which does not bode well for Canova’s chances in a similar proxy fight with Wassserman Schultz.

Still, the primary challenge is proving something of a headache for the DNC chair, with South Florida media noting an uptick in her campaigning for what had been considered an unassailable seat. This is the first time in her 12-year congressional career that she has faced primary competition.

Canova has also been criticizing Wasserman Schultz for not yet accepting his offer to debate.

However, in addition to her fundraising advantage, Wasserman Schultz also has another big gun in her arsenal–a highly touted endorsement from President Barack Obama.

Charlie Crist won’t run for Florida U.S. Senate seat in 2016

The Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat announces his decision in a Facebook post

florida mugTAMPA (CFP) — Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist says he will not seek a U.S. Senate seat from the Sunshine State in 2016, ending media speculation that he might jump into the race.

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist

“I will not be seeking office in 2016, but I will be working alongside you,” Crist said in a brief Facebook message posted March 16. “Too much is at stake for our beautiful Florida to be on the sidelines.”

The seat is currently held by Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who is expected to announce in April whether he will give it up to seek the Republican presidential nomination. Rubio’s departure would likely trigger a wide-open race in politically competitive Florida.

The decision not to run comes just four months after Crist, running as a Democrat, was narrowly defeated by incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott.

Crist, 58, was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican. In 2010, he opted to seek a Senate seat, rather than run for re-election. After it was clear he would lose to Rubio in the primary, Crist bolted the GOP and ran unsuccessfully as an independent. He became a Democrat in 2012.

Had Crist run for the Senate, he would have likely faced a battle in the Democratic primary with U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, is also reportedly considering the race.

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