I don't think there's a state offering its voters a worse choice than the two losers running for the Senate in Florida, Republican doofus Marco Rubio and the far stupider “ex”-Republican/fake Democrat Patrick Murphy. These arterially two garbage candidates deserving of no votes at all. It's races like this one that make people yearn for a “none-of-the-above” choice on the ballot.
The RealClearPolitics polling average shows Hillary leading Trump in Florida by a narrow 1.6%. The senate average there shows Rubio beating Murphy by a more formidable 3.6%. And the most recent Senate polling from Florida, by Bloomberg, shows Rubio opening up a much bigger lead over Murphy, 51-41%.
Wednesday night the two clowns debated again. Despite Murphy being demonstrably more of a moron, Rubio is weighed down by the catastrophic and unpopular Republican policy agenda and, of course, by Trump. In fact, Murphy's response to almost every question was “Trump.”
Murphy repeatedly criticized Rubio for still endorsing Trump, who Murphy referred to as one of “the most racist and bigoted people ever to run for office.”
“Senator Rubio continues to support Donald Trump, and it is shameful that he stands there with him,” Murphy said.
Rubio has said he has disagreements with Trump but still thinks Trump would still be a better president than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
He criticized Murphy for continuing to steer debate questions back to Trump.
“The answer to every question tonight by Congressman Murphy is Donald Trump,” Rubio said.
…In a sarcastic tone, Rubio added, “And as far as the opening is concerned, cruise ships? Basically an invasion of cruise ships is going to bring democracy to Cuba. It is not, because the Cuban government is a dictatorship. We have now made, over two years, concession after concession to the Castro regime. They have taken not even a quarter step towards democracy.”
Murphy responded by pointing to Trump's past business dealings that critics say violate the embargo. “The person you chose to be our next president has basically admitted he violated the embargo. And you continue to stand by his side,” Murphy said. “So what's it going to take for you to unendorse Donald Trump?”
Rubio's response: “That's bizarre, Congressman Murphy. You're criticizing Donald Trump for supporting a position you have.”
Murphy shot back: “I'm criticizing you for not having the courage, senator. You have no backbone.”
The audience broke up the exchange by whooping and hollering.
Rubio said the debate showed Murphy was living up to his reputation as a “serial embellisher.”
“Why does someone make things up? You make them up because you don't have anything real to point to,” Rubio said.
Murphy said Rubio is the one who can't be believed. “If you voted as much as you lied, you might actually be a decent senator, but you continue to throw out these lies,” he said. “I'm proud of what I accomplished, proud of what I've done.”
Rubio is certainly correct to point out that Rubio has accomplished nothing for Floridians and is universally considered one of the most ineffective and worthless members of Congress. He has zero influence other than in his work of betraying Democratic positions on the House Financial Services Committee, where he consistently votes with the GOP against consumers and for Wall Street. But Rubio can hardly criticize him for being a Wall Street whore, since that defines him as well as Murphy. One assertion that Rubio makes about Murphy is that it is his own business that has had dealings with Trump and Murphy, a practiced– if clumsy– liar, denies it. PolitiFact looked into the claim and denial yesterday and found Murphy's denial “half true,” a diplomatic way of saying “half false.” During the first debate Rubio pointed out that “There's only one person on the stage tonight whose family made millions of dollars in partnership with Donald Trump and that's you.” Murphy had no response and looked like he was going to burst into tears. Later his programming team told him to deny it and he later asserted that “It's an absolute lie. We’ve never done business with Donald Trump.”
Reporter Candace McCowan followed up: “Was there not some dealings between him and your father on a real estate deal?”
“No, absolutely not. We’ve never had a contract with Donald Trump,” Murphy said.
Who’s telling the truth here?
We found that Coastal Construction, a luxury residential building firm owned by Murphy’s father, Thomas P. Murphy Jr., did have business dealings related to Trump. But they were not direct contractual agreements, and they require further explanation.
During the debate, Rubio was referring to two condo projects that Coastal Construction built: Trump Hollywood and Trump Royale in Sunny Isles Beach.
According to Coastal Construction’s website, it built Trump Royale, a 55-story, 386-residence project owned by Dezer Properties. Coastal won the contract for the project in 2005.
Coastal won the contract to build Trump Hollywood in 2007, a 42-story, 208-unit condo project owned by The Related Group.
(Although Patrick worked at Coastal Construction in the past, for much of the time that the condos were under construction, Patrick worked at Deloitte. Patrick Murphy owns between $1 million and $5 million in assets from Coastal Construction, according to congressional financial disclosure forms.)
We interviewed Thomas P. Murphy Jr. as well as the owners of both projects, to find out the connection between Coastal Construction and Trump.
There is no dispute that Coastal Construction was the builder, and Trump’s organization had the licensing deal. But it was the owners– The Related Group and Dezer Development– who hired Coastal. The Related Group and Dezer reached an agreement with Trump separately.
“I hired Coastal to build the building, and I signed up with the Trump Organization for the licensing deal,” said Gil Dezer, president of Dezer Development. “The licensing deal was just that. It gave them no rights to construction decisions.”
(An article in The Real Deal, a real estate publication, in 2008 described a more intensive business relationship between Dezer and Trump and referred to Trump as Dezer’s “development partner.”)
We received a similar statement about Trump from The Related Group.
“Mr. Trump’s role was that of licensor; he was not a partner in the development, and he had no role in the actual development process or the hiring of Coastal Construction,” said Betsy McCoy, The Related Group’s general counsel and vice president.
Although Murphy wasn’t the one who entered into the agreement with Trump, he knew about Trump’s role, which had been publicized in news reports. The projects were clearly branded with the Trump name.
“We are extremely excited to be a part of this project and for the opportunity to continue working with such a reputable and powerful development team,” Murphy told the South Florida Business Journal in 2007 about the Hollywood project. “The tower's sleek and innovative design is sure to make its mark on the Hollywood skyline, and we look forward to delivering it on time.”
Both Murphys have downplayed the link to Trump during the campaign, particularly after the first debate.
“Coastal has never worked with Donald Trump personally or with any of his businesses,” Thomas P. Murphy told PolitiFact Florida.
After the debate, Patrick Murphy distanced his father’s firm from Trump.
…But clearly Coastal Construction at the time was aware of Trump’s role and didn’t appear to have a problem with it.
CNN reported Oct. 25 that in a photo obtained from Getty, Thomas P. Murphy can be seen with Trump and a group of people wearing Trump-branded hard hats at the groundbreaking ceremony for Trump Hollywood in 2007. (Thomas P. Murphy is on the far left.)
Funny hat Papa Murphy is wearing with the Trump logo on it (on the left)
Murphy’s campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said that Trump’s involvement was irrelevant to Coastal’s role building the units.
“Trump's name may have helped market the condo units after Coastal's role was completed, but Coastal has never benefited from Trump at all,” he said. “The developers paid Coastal for services, which was construction, and developers paid Donald Trump for the privilege of using his name and image in promotional materials. Point of fact, there was no money connection between Trump and Coastal Construction.”
So would we call the projects a “partnership” between Coastal Construction and Trump as Rubio said?
We posed that question to Jack McCabe, a South Florida real estate expert hired as an expert witness on behalf of condo buyers in two separate Trump condo cases in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.
McCabe said that when condo buyers signed contracts, it included a paragraph that stated Trump was not a partner.
“Even though buyers had every inclination Trump was an actual partner in the deals, the paperwork said otherwise,” he said.
But it also appears that Coastal Construction boasted of doing work for Trump once.
Coastal Construction president Dan Whiteman in 2008 told South Florida Constructor, a trade publication, “Many of (Coastal’s) high-rise residential projects have been built for world-renowned developers including Jorge Perez, Craig Robins and Donald Trump.”
That quote was included in opposition research that Murphy’s 2014 congressional campaign commissioned. On Oct. 14, BuzzFeed reported about the opposition research.
Rubio said that Murphy’s family made “millions” off the condo projects. We don’t know the amount Coastal Construction earned, since it is a private firm. However, McCabe told us that the industry standard is between 8 and 12 percent. In news articles and interviews we found price tags for the projects between $150 million and $350 million, so it’s likely that Coastal Construction did make millions.
Thomas Murphy said that Coastal made the fair-market rate for building these projects.
Murphy said in an interview, “We have never done business with Donald Trump.”
Murphy’s family’s construction firm, Coastal Construction, built Trump condo projects in Hollywood and Sunny Isles Beach. The owners of the projects– not Trump– hired Coastal as the builder, and then separately the owners reached licensing agreements with Trump. So while Coastal built projects that carried Trump’s name, even boasting about it at least once, they didn’t directly strike a partnership together. But they did work on the same condo projects.
We rate this claim Half True.
Oh, by the way, the actual development company was not “Dezer Development,” but “Trump Dezer Development.” You would think that SOMEONE at PolitiFact would think of googling “Trump Dezer,” in quotes, but I guess that they’re just too… inside-the-box to think of that.
Yesterday, Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight looked at how Rubio is the Democrats' sorest spot. Schumer knew that going in but his only priority was to make sure Grayson didn't get the nomination. FiveThirtyEight asserts the Democrats have a 67% chance to win the Senate but Florida (Murphy) is holding that number down. They give Rubio an 81% to beat him.
Simply put: The race in Florida isn’t anywhere as close as those in the states that will be key in determining control of the Senate. Rubio is up by a little over 5 percentage points. The margins in Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, in contrast, are all within about 2 percentage points.
Democrats need to win three of these six states to win the Senate (if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency and Democrats carry Illinois and Wisconsin, where they are heavy favorites). Because those six races are so close, they dominate our tipping-point rankings, which are based on the chances that a given race will determine which party wins a majority. Florida is down to just a 6 percent chance of determining control.
So if you’re a Democratic operative trying to allocate resources for the national party in Washington, Florida doesn’t come close to topping your list of biggest concerns.
…Rubio’s lead has never dipped below 4 percentage points and has rarely exceeded 7 points. And there’s a lot of agreement among individual polls. Of the last 50 polls released publicly, Rubio has led in 48. Two surveys showed a tie. That’s very different from the states with close races– like New Hampshire, where in the past three days there have been polls released showing the Democratic candidate ahead, polls showing the Republican candidate ahead and polls showing a tie. The more consensus among polls over time, the less likely the polling average will be way off.
But maybe there’s some Democratic diehard in Miami reading this right now and thinking, “OK, sure, Harry, but 5 points isn’t that big a margin– if the national party ponied up some cash, we could push Murphy over the top.” That’s not unreasonable, but it would make more sense if we were talking about a 5-point race in New Hampshire or Colorado. Those states are more “elastic”– they have a lot of swing voters. Florida is not especially elastic and so responds to national trends about as much as other states. Nor does Florida have a large share of undecided voters compared with the states that have closer races.
Enter can't mention that Murphy stinks as a candidate– even against a jerk like Rubio; that isn't something they do at FiveThirtyEight. PolitiFact was back on Murphy's habit of lying all the time. “Our ears,” they wrote yesterday, “are burning. Twice in two debates, Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy invoked our name as a shield in the face of criticism from Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio about his background. 'You continue to throw out these lies. They have all been debunked by PolitiFact,' Murphy said. Murphy’s response was memorable– especially to us. His retort is a wishful reading of our reports. Here’s the truth: Murphy has exaggerated his credentials, and his opponents have also exaggerated their attacks on Murphy.”
In the Oct. 26 debate in Davie, Rubio dubbed Murphy a “serial embellisher,” saying the South Florida congressman never had a contract to clean up Gulf oil, and he could not have worked as a CPA in Florida because he did not have a Florida CPA license.
ABC’s Jonathan Karl, the moderator of the first debate, also asked Murphy about his background.
“You’ve described yourself as a small business owner, but your company is a subsidiary of a billion-dollar construction firm founded by your father. You call yourself a Certified Public Accountant, but you have not been a CPA in the state of Florida. And for more than a year, your website said that you had two degrees from the University of Miami, when in fact you only had one.”
“Absolutely not,” Murphy responded, “and I am glad you asked this question, and it’s important that you all hear it from me. You see, PolitiFact, an independent fact-checking agency has already debunked these accusations.”
No, we have not.
Words matter, and here’s why.
In September, we fact-checked a TV ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee that made less nuanced attacks about Murphy’s résumé than what was described at the debates. The attacks skimmed the facts laid out in a June CBS4 Miami investigation into Murphy’s background.
The ad starts with a clip of Murphy saying in 2012, “I believe that my background as a CPA and a small business owner is exactly what we need.”
The narrator then reads lines from a CBS4 Miami report and says, “Never worked as a CPA,” and “Never a small business owner.”
Those words rated Mostly False, meaning they contained an element of truth but ignored critical facts that would give a different impression.
The ad made it sound like Murphy flat-out lied about being a CPA. He is a licensed CPA– in Colorado. He could not sign off on audits at his Florida job since he didn’t have his Florida license, but he still was a CPA.
Murphy’s claim of being a small business owner is complicated.
Murphy’s business, Coastal Environmental Services, was owned by multiple people and stemmed from a business his father owned, Coastal Construction. Annual reports show Murphy was a director in 2011 and 2012, though he remained an owner and not a director since winning election to Congress in 2012.
Unlike the slippery TV ad, Karl didn’t say Murphy was never a small business owner; he started his question by noting his father’s connection to the business Murphy claimed. Still, Murphy said PolitiFact had debunked the accusation.
PolitiFact Florida also did not rate Rubio’s statement about Murphy’s company not having a contract to clean up the Gulf oil spill. We visited the issue in this this explainer to attacks against Murphy, laying out that Murphy’s Coastal Environmental Services did not get the contracts itself but worked with and then bought another company with existing contracts. Murphy's actual work in the Gulf was short-lived– just a matter of months.
Finally, we did not debunk an attack from Rubio about Murphy’s degrees from the University of Miami– we actually backed it up. When Rubio’s campaign released an ad claiming “Murphy embellished, according to reports, his University of Miami academic achievement,” we rated that Mostly True.
Murphy’s campaign websites for U.S. House and Senate used to say he had “dual degrees” from Miami, but what he really had was a single bachelor’s degree with a double major in accounting and finance. Murphy’s campaign has since fixed the error.
There’s a lot of blame going around, but here are the facts: Murphy puffed up his qualifications. Republican attack groups exaggerated the scope of the issue.
But Murphy’s claim that we debunked every attack leveled against him?
That’s also exaggerated.
I think it would be safe to say that just about all politicians lie and exaggerate. Murphy's worst than most, but that isn't the reason DWT recommends voters ignore the Florida Senate race. Murphy's record is– and the likelihood of the damage he will cause if he's elected to the Senate.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis