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But when it comes to politics, Giménez the candidate needs to maintain those bonds if he hopes to win election.

“There is no conflict. I have to do what I think is right, after that I am a candidate for Congress,” Giménez said in an interview. “Does it impact my ability to run as a candidate? Sure. But I’m mayor first.”

Democrat Joe Biden is outpolling Trump in the final weeks of the presidential campaign and the coronavirus outbreak has caught a second wind. In swing districts across the U.S., down-ticket Republicans are weighing policy against politics as they answer to their current constituents, try to win over new ones, and avoid going sideways with the party.

These election-year dynamics are forcing some local GOP officials into a political vise of sorts, caught at times between a president who has downplayed the coronavirus and their communities demanding an aggressive response to the disease. They’re imposing mask mandates, enforcing social distancing and generally taking tougher positions than Trump and his allies — including, in Gimenez’s case, DeSantis.

The political acrobatics could hardly be more challenging than in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, where the coronavirus pandemic has hit particularly hard and a vulnerable first-term Democratic incumbent faces a fierce fight with a well-known, term-limited Republican mayor.

The incumbent, Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, is running against Giménez’s coronavirus response, calling it “an absolute failure.” With a war chest that’s less than a third of the incumbent’s, the mayor needs to show he’s in control of the pandemic response, an effort complicated by DeSantis’ persistent push to reopen the state economy.

So on Tuesday, when Trump tweeted from the White House that he would travel to Miami for an Oct. 15 debate despite his Covid-19 diagnosis, Giménez hedged. The mayor said he would seek the advice of medical experts before Trump’s arrival and said he had no concerns that the president might be Covid-positive.

“We will know what his contagion level is and take the appropriate precautions,” he said.

Next door, Miami City Mayor Francis Suarez, who is not facing an election this year, told Trump to stay home if he’s still testing positive on Oct. 15.

“I don’t think it’s safe, not for him and anybody else, anywhere or anyone he interacts with,” Mayor Francis Suarez told POLITICO.

As the campaign headed into the final stretch, Giménez the mayor and Giménez the candidate both were blindsided when DeSantis gave Florida businesses the OK to open doors and return to a pre-pandemic way of life. The Sept. 25 executive order preempted tougher restrictions imposed by local governments, including Miami-Dade, and banned them from collecting fines from people who defied local mask-wearing ordinances.

The DeSantis announcement was a blow, but Giménez didn‘t criticize his Republican ally, not even for the lack of a heads up. Instead, he held a news conference a few days later to tell constituents which parts of the DeSantis roadmap the county would not follow.

Miami-Dade would continue to impose $100 fines on mask scofflaws, with plans to collect those fines when the DeSantis order expires, he said. Bars and restaurants that have the ability to keep six feet of space between tables were allowed to to go full capacity, but others will remain at half capacity.

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“They have given us as much flexibility as possible within the governor’s desire to open the state as fast as possible,” Giménez said.

While Giménez tries to balance the demands of his free-market Republican governor and a local public health crisis, Giménez will have to vastly outperform the top of the ticket, where Biden is expected to easily defeat Trump among voters in the 26th Congressional District. Hillary Clinton won the seat by 16 points in 2016.

Republicans, though, have outperformed the top of the ticket in the district before. In 2016, former Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican, won the seat by 12 points even though Trump lost the district by 16 points.

“I think the district does afford him the opportunity to try and distinguish himself from the party and show he is independent-minded,” Curbelo said in an interview. “It’s a very independent district.”

So far, the relationship between Trump, who has pushed aggressively for an economic reopening, and Giménez seems to be intact. Giménez was among a small group of people to privately meet with Trump before he boarded Air Force One after a Latinos for Trump event in Hialeah. Others who chatted up the the president included Florida state Sen. Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah) and likely future Florida House Speaker Daniel Perez (R-Miami).

“It was campaign stuff,” Giménez said when asked what he and the president discussed. “He has endorsed me, so he just offered to help again, and I thanked him.”

After Trump on Friday announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus, Giménez told the Miami Herald that he stood “eight feet away” from the president. He wore a mask during the exchange, but the president did not, the Herald reported.

“He’s been a bit careful, but I think he’s trying to strike a balance. I think the fact he has kept Miami-Dade safe from violence and looting for the most part is going to be very helpful to him,” Diaz said.

And while Covid-19 positivity has fallen to below 5 percent, Miami-Dade continues to report a significant number of new infections. The county reported 2,548 new coronavirus cases over the past week, 15 percent of all cases statewide. With the prevalence of new cases, pandemic-protection measures are popular, giving Giménez local political cover. But conservatives in the county have placed a premium on reopening.

“Opening the economy is critical for rehabilitation in both health and economics,” said Miami attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck, who was a Spanish-language Trump campaign surrogate in 2016. “I believe in social change and masks are useful and should be used as security cover and discretion. However, not mandates by an executive order.”

Palomares-Starbuck stopped short of criticizing Giménez. But he didn’t respond to a follow-up question about the mayor’s political balancing act.


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Trump super PAC to hold first fundraiser at Bedminster

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A pro-Donald Trump super PAC is holding its first fundraising event on May 22 at the former president’s Bedminster golf club, according to two people familiar with the planning.

The event will benefit Make America Great Again Action, a super PAC spearheaded by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Trump is expected to attend the event, which will include reception and a dinner. The minimum price for entry is $250,000.

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Trump tapped Lewandowki earlier this year to oversee the super PAC as part of his post-White House political operation. It’s the second big money group Trump has formed. Shortly after the election, he launched Save America PAC, a leadership PAC that has raised tens of millions of dollars.


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Pierre ‘Pete’ du Pont IV dies; ran for president in 1988

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“I was born with a well-known name and genuine opportunity. I hope I have lived up to both,” du Pont said in announcing his longshot presidential bid in September 1986.

As a presidential candidate, du Pont attracted attention for staking out controversial positions on what he hoped would reverberate with voters as “damn right” issues. They included random drug testing for high school students, school vouchers, replacing welfare with work, ending farm subsidies, and allowing workers to invest in individual retirement accounts as an alternative to Social Security.

Some of those ideas have since become more mainstream.

He won the endorsement of New Hampshire’s largest newspaper but failed to gain traction among voters. He ended his campaign after finishing next-to-last in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

Afterward, du Pont remained engaged in politics. He frequently wrote opinion pieces for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and co-founded the online public policy journal IntellectualCapital.com. He also served as chairman of Hudson Institute, the National Review Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonpartisan public policy research organization.

Pierre du Pont IV was born Jan. 22, 1935, in Delaware. After attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, he graduated from Princeton University in 1956 with an engineering degree. Following a four-year stint in the Navy, he obtained a law degree from Harvard University in 1963.

He joined the Du Pont Company, where he held several positions, resigning as a quality control supervisor in 1968 to begin his political career.

After running unopposed for a state House seat in 1968, he immediately set his sights on Congress, running as a fiscal conservative and winning the first of three terms in 1970.

Elected governor in 1976, du Pont fought successfully to restore financial integrity to a state he had declared “bankrupt” shortly after his inauguration. He presided over two income tax cuts; constitutional amendments restricting state spending and requiring three-fifths votes in the legislature to raise taxes; and establishment of an independent revenue forecasting panel.

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After a rocky start with Democratic legislators, including an embarrassing override of a 1977 budget veto, du Pont forged successful relationships with lawmakers from both parties to tackle thorny issues including prison overcrowding and corruption and school desegregation. He was re-elected in a landslide in 1980, winning a record 71 percent of the vote and becoming the first two-term governor in Delaware in 20 years.

In his second term, du Pont signed landmark legislation that loosened Delaware’s banking laws, including removing the cap on interest rates that banks could charge customers. The Financial Center Development Act made Delaware a haven for some of the country’s largest credit card issuers.

Under du Pont’s leadership, Delaware also established a nonprofit employment counseling and job placement program for Delaware high school seniors not bound for college. It served as the model for a national program adopted by several other states.

Prohibited by law from seeking a third term, du Pont briefly withdrew to the private sector, joining a Wilmington law firm in 1985. A year and a half later, he announced his bid for the GOP presidential nomination, becoming the first declared candidate in the 1988 campaign.

During an appearance at the Hotel du Pont in downtown Wilmington, where du Pont announced he was abandoning his presidential campaign, he praised an electoral process that gave a shot at the White House to a former small-state governor with unorthodox ideas.

“You’ve given me the opportunity of a lifetime. You listened, you considered and you chose. I could not have asked for any more,” du Pont said. “For in America, we do not promise that everyone wins, only that everyone gets a chance to try.”

Du Pont is survived by his wife of over 60 years, the former Elise R. Wood; a daughter and three sons; and 10 grandchildren.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a memorial service will be held at a later date, Perkins said.


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Larry Hogan decries ‘circular firing squad’ within GOP

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday the Republican Party experienced its “worst four years we’ve had, ever” under President Donald Trump, noting the party’s losses in both chambers of Congress and the White House.

“We’ve got to get back to winning elections again. And we have to be able to have a Republican Party that appeals to a broader group of people,” said Hogan, a Republican, on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” “Successful politics is about addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division.”

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Hogan’s comments comes as Republicans deliberate on the future of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in the party’s House leadership, particularly over her repeated criticisms of Trump, which many Republicans view as breaking ranks and distracting from the party’s opposition to President Joe Biden. House Republicans are expected to strip Cheney of her role as conference chair and replace her with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).


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