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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill Clinton headlining two Miami fundraisers next week

Bill Clinton will be hitting up Miami donors again after Labor Day weekend.

The former president is scheduled to attend an evening event on Sept. 7 to benefit Hillary Clinton's campaign. The rumored location is the Fillmore Miami Beach.

Donors who contribute at the highest level -- by cutting a $10,000 check or raising $27,000 -- get "premium" seating and a photo with Bill Clinton, according to an invitation obtained by the Miami Herald. The minimum requested contribution is $250, with a limited number of tickets for young professionals available for $45 each.

Clinton is slated to later attend a high-dollar dinner -- $50,000 a plate -- at the home of Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

Clinton fundraised in Florida on his wife's behalf in April, and in Miami in February.

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Deeming Rubio's debate challenge a 'stunt,' Murphy agrees to only one so far

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump debating earlier this year

The Associated Press

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump debating earlier this year

Patrick Murphy does not share Marco Rubio’s enthusiasm for debates, the Democrat’s campaign saying it has committed to only one debate in late October and deeming Rubio’s challenge for six meetings a “stunt.”

Murphy, who refused to debate Alan Grayson, says he won’t commit to more unless Rubio commits to serving the full six years of the Senate term if elected. A news release deemed Rubio’s challenge a stunt and followed with a statement from Murphy.

“I'm excited to debate Marco Rubio,” he said. “His ‘challenge’ today is nothing more than a desperate attempt to try and change the campaign narrative from the fact that he abandoned Florida. I have a counter challenge: Senator Rubio, commit to serving a six-year term.

"Clearly, Marco Rubio doesn't understand that campaigning and debating isn't governing. Floridians deserve better than Marco Rubio, and that difference will be on display in the upcoming debates, including the Leadership Florida debate on October 26. Senator Rubio has the worst vote attendance record of any Florida Senator in nearly 50 years. He completely abandoned our state and the day after his primary victory, he has already left Florida to raise money in Texas." …

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Not one or two but three machine recounts likely in close races

State and county voting officials say machine recounts will be required in three of Florida's closest primary races.

They are the Democratic primary in Senate District 19 in Tampa Bay; a race for circuit judge in the 4th Judicial Circuit in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties; and the Democratic primary in Congressional District 2 in 19 counties stretching from Marion County to the Panhandle.

That last one could be a major logistical challenge because many of the counties in CD 2 are also smack in the path of Tropical Storm Hermine, which is predicted to make landfall somewhere in the Big Bend region on Thursday.

The counties, some of them in the low-lying coastal Big Bend area that's highly prone to flooding, are Bay, Calhoun, Columbia, Dixie, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Marion, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington. As of Wednesday, six of them said their county courthouses would be closed Thursday. They are Dixie, Gilchrist, Gulf, Lafayette, Levy and Taylor. …

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Rubio challenges Murphy to six debatesRubio challenges Murphy to six debates; Murphy offers his own counter-challenge

UPDATE: 2:25 p.m.

Since Marco Rubio challenged Patrick Murphy this morning to six debates, the U.S. Senate candidates have been trading barbs all day.

Murphy initially responded to Rubio this morning by proposing a counter-challenge -- that Rubio commit to serving a full six-year term, if elected. (It's something that Rubio, as recently as Monday, continues to be vague and non-committal about, prompting criticism that he's already interested in running for president again in 2020.)

Murphy said in a statement he was "excited to debate Marco Rubio" but called Rubio's proposal "nothing more than a desperate attempt to try and change the campaign narrative from the fact that he abandoned Florida."

At a press conference soon after in West Palm Beach, Murphy told reporters he won't commit to the six debates Rubio wants unless Rubio agrees to his counter-challenge.

"I'm going to take his challenge seriously," Murphy said. "We've already agreed to one debate, I'm looking forward to that and our teams are going to continue, you know, talking to hash out the details there. There are going to be multiple debates." …

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Alan Grayson lost badly, but he says he'll be back

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando

Zach Gibson/The New York Times

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson lost pretty handily in Tuesday night' Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate.

Grayson, D-Orlando, took 17.7 percent of the vote, just ahead of Pam Keith, who has never run for office before. Not a great showing for a Democrat with the backing of the party's progressive wing.

But, Grayson says, he'll be back. He told the Times/Herald he wants to keep pushing senior issues and to start advocating for felons to have their voting rights restored in Florida.

As an elected official? Or as a lawyer?

"All of the above," he said. "As a political leader."

After all, he lost his 2010 congressional reelection and then won the seat in 2012.

And there are some parts of the state where despite his loss last night, Grayson maintains support.

Democrats in his congressional district supported Grayson over Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Democratic nominee, even while rejecting his wife, Dena Grayson, in her congressional bid.

Grayson came out on top in seven counties, which he says he's keeping in mind as he prepares his next move: Osceola, Orange, Washington, Calhoun, Holmes, Jackson and Liberty.

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As main event unfolds, Florida GOP frets anew about Trump

The primary is over in Florida and both political parties are studying what went right and what went wrong. But they also must immediately shift to a redefined political landscape, a general election battleground where the dominant factor is Donald Trump and the turnout is expected to be huge.

The full story is here.

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Kaine's Florida events canceled due to weather

Tim Kaine's visit Thursday and Friday to Florida has been called off due to the storm, the campaign said.

Kaine was to make stops in Pensacola, Panama City and Jacksonville.

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Tim Canova: I will concede Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a corporate stooge

Tim Canova refused to go quietly into the night as he sat by the bar of Kasa Champet in Pembroke Pines after all precincts finally reported around 11:30 p.m.

"I will concede Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a corporate stooge,"' Canova said.

As for working with Wasserman Schultz in the future, well, don't bet on it.

"She's never asked for my help," Canova said. "She's never given me the time of day. She's never given the time of day to her constituents as far as I'm concerned."

Democratic voters in the Broward/Miami-Dade district didn't share Canova's view: the Weston Democrat won 57 to 43 percent.

George Richards contributed

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With 15 percent of vote, Pam Keith makes her mark in Florida U.S. Senate primary

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Pam Keith, of Miami

Pam Keith U.S. Senate campaign

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Pam Keith, of Miami

Throughout her unsuccessful 22-month bid to be Florida's next U.S. senator, Democrat Pam Keith was ever the underdog -- quietly campaigning across the state almost daily on her own, with an assist from a small but loyal band of staff and volunteers.

She gained some momentum over those months by offering specific policy ideas and delivering energetic and charismatic speeches to groups large and small, but she faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles from the start.

The party establishment ignored her.

Donors didn't flock to her; she had to partially self-fund.

Florida and national media generally paid her almost no attention until this summer and, even then, there wasn't much widespread coverage.

She wasn't even included in most statewide polls and those that did pegged her most often with single-digit support. One in March had her as high as 11 percent support.

But despite that, Keith -- a Miami labor attorney and Navy veteran in her first bid for public office -- somewhat beat the odds after all.

More here.

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Where Carlos Beruff did best, and where he got pasted

There's no sugar coating the results. Carlos Beruff got beat badly Tuesday in his longshot bid to win a seat in the U.S. Senate. Marco Rubio beat Beruff in every single Florida county.

And Beruff failed to hit even 20 percent of the vote statewide, despite putting $8 million to the race.

"Critics will say it was a fool’s errand to stay in the Senate race," Beruff said in a statement to the media after his loss on Tuesday. "They will say we had no chance of beating Rubio, and they will say I wasted money. But of course, critics are most often those people who lack the courage and commitment to enter the arena."

Still, there are counties that Beruff nearly hit 30 percent of the vote. Three of the five counties Beruff did best are in the Tampa Bay region. In Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas County, Beruff was able to get over 25 percent of the vote. His best county was a little further away in Hardee County, which gave Beruff 28.8 percent of the vote. …

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Republicans debut website highlighting Murphy's resume embellishments

National Republicans launched a website to highlight Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy's resume embellishments.

Image credit: RealMurphyResume.com

National Republicans launched a website to highlight Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy's resume embellishments.

National Republicans don't want general election voters to forget that Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy was caught embellishing his resume.

To highlight the gaffes, the National Republican Senatorial Committee today launched a website -- RealMurphyResume.com -- to detail instances where Murphy either exaggerated his credentials or didn't provide a complete explanation of his experience.

The subject has been and will continue to be a prime line of attack against Murphy, a 33-year-old, two-term congressman from Jupiter who became the official Democratic nominee in Florida's U.S. Senate race after Tuesday's decisive primary.

The NRSC's website mocks Murphy by referencing his wealthy South Florida family and their yacht, "Cocktails," and including a "personal statement" that reads: "Never Worked A Day In My Life As A CPA. Never A Small Business Owner. Never Going To Be A United States Senator."

Much of the website isn't fact so much as partisan spin based on some truth. …

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Scott congratulates Rubio, 13 hours after praising his opponent on loss

After openly praising Carlos Beruff's failed campaign Tuesday night, Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott has finally congratulated the winner in the GOP's U.S. Senate primary: incumbent Marco Rubio.

Scott conspicuously waited almost 13 hours to congratulate Rubio -- the Republican incumbent who trounced Beruff 72 percent to 18 percent in unofficial results from Tuesday's primary.

Scott's Facebook post this morning praising Rubio came shortly after a Herald/Times reporter asked Scott's spokeswoman why the governor had congratulated Beruff but not Rubio.

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Bob Graham: Government needs to release much more about 9/11 attacks

Bob Graham at the National Press Club.

[ALEX LEARY | Times]

Bob Graham at the National Press Club.

WASHINGTON — Former Sen. Bob Graham this morning sharply criticized government secrecy over 9/11, saying the recent release of 28 pages of classified information is only an opening into what the American public deserves to know.

"The legacy of Barack Obama is going to be stained," when it becomes clear how much material remains hidden from view, Graham said at the National Press Club.

In particular, he said, much remains unanswered about a Saudi family that lived in Sarasota and suddenly vanished around the attack. 

Graham was a leading figure in getting the release of the 28 pages, and he credited journalists for helping raise the issue. "Get a life," he said the deputy director of the FBI once told him.

Despite the release, Graham said more pressure needs to be applied so tens of thousands of pages of additional investigative material comes out.

He also called on Congress to approve the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, designed to help families of the nearly 3,000 victims. Having already passed the Senate, the legislation would allow families to sue the Saudi government. …

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Gov. Scott declares emergency in 42 counties as Gulf storm expected to make landfall Thursday

Florida Gov. Rick Scott addresses the media after a storm briefing at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016.

Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau

Florida Gov. Rick Scott addresses the media after a storm briefing at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016.

Almost two-thirds of Florida's counties are now under a state of emergency because of a tropical depression that's intensifying in the Gulf of Mexico and expected to make landfall Thursday afternoon as either a tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott issued the state of emergency for 42 counties on Wednesday morning, while he attended a morning briefing at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. Metro areas covered by the emergency declaration include Tallahassee, Tampa Bay, Orlando, Gainesville, Jacksonville and the Space Coast. South Florida is "in the clear," one state official said.

(See Scott's emergency declaration here for the full list of affected counties.)

Tropical Depression 9 is still moving slowly in the Gulf at about 2 miles per hour but it's starting to take shape. The storm is expected to pick up steam and veer northeast toward Florida's Big Bend over the next 24-36 hours, said Bryan Koon, director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management.

FL Emergency Management Dir. Bryan Koon says Tropical Depression 9 "will become tropical storm today," still could become Cat1 hurricane. …

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Provisional ballots could shift result of Tampa Bay Senate race

As Pinellas and Hillsborough counties await a state order to begin machine recounts in a close state Senate race, more than 140 still-uncounted provisional ballots also still must be reviewed, adding more drama in Florida's closest race on Tuesday's ballot.

On Wednesday, Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, held a lead of 61 votes over Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa, in a Democratic primary for Tampa Bay's Senate District 19. Rouson had 10,776 votes and Narain 10,715, for a difference of 61 votes, or less than two-tenths of 1 percent. Secretary of State Ken Detzner must order a machine recount in a multi-county race where unofficial results show two candidates within half of a percentage point.

Rouson ran much stronger in Pinellas and Narain ran stronger in Hillsborough, where Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer's office said Wednesday that about 100 provisional ballots still must be reviewed by a three-member canvassing board at a meeting set for 11 a.m. Thursday.

Hillsborough's web site includes a detailed explanation of provisional ballots. Counties must report their first set of unofficial returns to the state by noon Friday. …

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