Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner confirmed over the weekend what was becoming increasingly obvious: He won’t be entering the nationally watched 2014 race to unseat freshman Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy in a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast swing district.
Hasner was courted by the National Republican Congressional Committee and others last year to run for Murphy’s District 18 seat. He and his wife Jillian even put their Boca Raton home on the market in anticipation of a potential move north.
“After a lot of consideration, I have chosen not to run for Congress in 2014. It just isn’t the right time for me and Jillian,” Hasner told the Politics column.
National Republicans were drawn to Hasner’s prolific fundraising in the state House and the more than $3.3 million he collected in 2011 and 2012 while pursuing a U.S. Senate bid and then a losing congressional race against Rep. Lois Frankel in a Democrat-leaning district.
The Republicans who have opened campaigns for Murphy’s seat — including former state Rep. Carl Domino, Juno Beach Councilwoman Ellen Andel, former Tequesta Councilman Calvin Turnquest and former Connecticut legislator Alan Schlesinger — have struggled to raise significant money while the incumbent has built a campaign warchest of more than $1.5 million.
— With Hasner not running, his friend and former Senate campaign strategist Rick Wilson has signed on with Turnquest’s campaign as a media and messaging consultant.
It’s an A-list hire for a candidate who hasn’t been on many Republican radar screens. Tallahassee-based Wilson’s resume includes a late-1980s stint in the Pentagon under then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and work on Rudy Giuliani’s successful 1997 New York mayoral campaign and aborted 2000 Senate bid against Hillary Clinton.
Turnquest has also hired GOP operative Jacob Perry as his campaign manager and Washington-based fundraiser Kirsten Borman, a Florida native who worked on the 2010 and 2012 campaigns of U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Orlando.
—Another Republican candidate complaining to a Palm Beach County audience about the large number of Americans who don’t pay income taxes?
At a District 18 GOP candidate forum last week, Carl Domino said: “We’ve got to do two things with our tax structure. It’s got to be more broad. I have no problem with a progressive tax system, but I do have a problem with a system in which many, many people pay no taxes, because if they pay no taxes, they don’t understand. And finally, there’s about $2 trillion overseas that could be brought back to America if we could fix our corporate tax structure.”
Domino said afterward that his concern that “many, many people pay no taxes” was not meant to echo Mitt Romney’s infamous 2012 complaint in Boca Raton that “47 percent of Americans pay no income tax.”
“It has nothing to do with what Mitt Romney said,” Domino told the Politics column. “The broader the tax base, the more people see that they’ve got a stake in the well-being of an entity and the more efficiently that entity can be run. If you’re getting something for free, you don’t care what it costs.”
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that 43.3 percent of Americans had no federal income tax liability in 2013. About two-thirds of those who paid no income taxes still paid federal payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Most of those with no income tax liability are elderly or have incomes less than $20,000, the Tax Policy Center says.
Domino said he’s not interested in raising taxes on lower-income people.
“I think that we need to look at the issue of who’s paying taxes. Are there people out there, are there corporations out there that have enormous incomes that are paying no taxes?” Domino said. “Let’s find out why that’s so and let’s address that issue in a rational way.”
—A proposed referendum on legalizing medical marijuana is awaiting Supreme Court approval, but it has exceeded the 683,149 signatures needed statewide to qualify for the November ballot.
In Palm Beach County, backers of the ballot question submitted 55,534 signatures to Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher’s office. Of those, 42,367 were validated as belonging to registered voters.
The 76.3 percent success rate on marijuana petitions compares to an 80.6 percent accuracy rate on petitions for a soil and water conservation question.