Can Florida Democrats Blow The 2014 Gubernatorial Race?
Last week, Florida politics expert Steve Schale had a cautiously optimistic analysis of how his state's electorate has changed since 2006 and what it portends for the future. Since the 2006 election, the total number of active registered voters in Florida has grown from 10,433.849 to 11,934,446 voters and of those million and a half new voters, 61% are either black or Hispanic. Here's the kicker: only 6% of them registered as Republicans. On top of that, over 50% of Hispanic voter registration growth has accrued to the Democrats, while the Republicans account for only 12%. Schale ends his post with a warning:
Another Florida politics expert, Peter Schorsch, pushed back against speculation that Crist isn't going to run for governor.
[M]any of the institutional party challenges remain. Recruiting good candidates down the ballot to build a farm team and creating a stable fundraising base, not just for the party, but to help the aforementioned candidates get off the ground. Both of these things would improve if a Democrat wins the Governor's Mansion in 2014.Ah... yes, the Governor's Mansion in 2014. Intense buyer's remorse over Rick Scott is still the most salient feature of the electorate as the election approaches. But can the Democrats blow it? It was looking like the DC Democratic Establishment-- think Debbie Wasserman Schultz-- had locked up the nomination for Republican opportunist Charlie Crist, using the same tactics they used to shoehorn lifelong Republican Patrick Murphy-- a Crist crony-- into the 2012 congressional race against Allen West. I might mention that Murphy has been one of the absolute worst Democratic freshmen in Congress, not just consistently crossing the aisle to vote with the GOP on core issues, but undermining Democratic values among weak-minded freshmen and dragging them across the aisle as well. There's a lot of grumbling about the Crist inevitability meme Wasserman Schultz has been trying to get off the ground and now there is talk that the whispers among the Establishment creeps is that they'll get centrist Senator Bill Nelson to run for governor after all and have him appoint Crist to his Senate seat after he kicks Scott's ass. Everyone's happy-- except Democrats who don't want to see another conservative Republican in the Senate, even one calling himself a Democrat.
Another Florida politics expert, Peter Schorsch, pushed back against speculation that Crist isn't going to run for governor.
[Miami New Times' reporter Terrence] McCoy posits that Crist will not run because:
#5, Charlie Crist is all alone: “Though years have passed… and Crist has lured some high-profile supporters-- like Barack Obama-- they aren’t exactly the most loyal because Crist, himself, hasn’t been loyal.”
#4, His sweet deal with Morgan & Morgan: “Crist has it pretty good right now. He’s has a nice place along the bay in St. Pete, he has a high-paying job that allows him to exercise his high quota of pouts and brow furrows. This job allows Charlie Crist to live out his own caricature. If he ran for governor, he’d give up all of that...”
3, All the divorce drama: “As I recall the phrase ‘piece of shit’ came up often in conversation. and if Crist decides to run, it will again and again.”
#2, Who the fuck is Charlie Crist, anyway?: ” Though he dismisses the myriad flip-flops-- on gay marriage, on taxation, on health care reform-- as an evolution of thinking, they speak to a much broader issue in his politics. Voters aren’t stupid.”
#1, He won’t win: “Those [unemployment] numbers are hard, and though Crist is undeniably more likable than Rick Scott, his economic performance has been substantially better...”
Pardon me, while I deconstruct these arguments better than Grant Achatz does a tomato.
First of all, Crist is not all alone. He actually has a better support system in place now than he during his previous campaigns for elected office. If Crist were ever alone, it was in 2006 when, running for Governor, he found himself surrounded by sycophants like Jim Greer, Delmar Johnson, and the like.
Today, Crist is a more grounded, more mature happily married man who is almost an entirely different person than he was a decade ago.
Crist’s critics were once so quick to dismiss his marriage as little more than stagecraft. Now those same critics are silent as Carole has become Charlie’s best friend and partner.
Crist has also returned to his St. Petersburg roots, mostly eschewing the Broward Republicanism that saw him turn his back on hometown allies. There are no George LeMieux’s around nowadays. And that’s a good thing. His old friends, like Bernie Campbell and Mike Hamby, are back in the picture.
As for the consultants and staff Crist would need to run a statewide campaign, how quickly would the printer run out of paper from the volume of resumes being e-mailed and faxed in were Crist to say he needed help. Crist has already put Dan Gelber and Steve Schale in his camp. His best political friend, Rep. Darryl Rouson, is the incoming leader of the House Democrats.
He’s also clearly the preferred choice of the last two Democratic presidents, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Alone, McCoy says. Hardly.
Regarding Crist’s sweet deal with Morgan & Morgan, it’s hard not laugh at the inclusion of this point as a reason Crist won’t run. After all, he joined Morgan & Morgan so that he had a place to hang out while he waited to run for Governor.
What, do you think Charlie’s fielding incoming slip-and-fall cases? Puh-leeze.
John Morgan is going to spend every cent he can to elect Crist, for no other reason than he wants to gut the Republican legislation gutting the state’s PIP laws. That system has been worth tens of millions of dollars to Morgan. Spending ten million or so to elect a Governor who can block further changes to the PIP system is simply a smart investment for Morgan.
One more counter-argument to this point: Say what you will about Charlie Crist, but the one thing he has never been motivated by is the pursuit of money. To think that Crist won’t run for Governor because he needs money to keep up his “nice place along the bay in St. Pete” (it’s actually just a two-bedroom number in the city’s oldest waterfront tower) is to completely misunderstand the man.
McCoy’s #3 reason why Crist won’t run for Governor wouldn’t make it into my own Top 50 reasons why Charlie won’t take the plunge. McCoy describes it as ” all of the divorce drama” and it refers to Carole Rome Crist’s ex-husband, Todd.
Crist has been dogged for thirty years by rumors of closeted homosexuality, so any time a story runs reminding people that he’s actually married to a smart, sophisticated, wealthy, gorgeous woman, it’s not a bad thing. That there is an ex-husband peddling stories about Carole being a subpar mother is the kind of gutter-talk Crist has always risen above.
Besides, the guy he will be running against did this. So if the 2014 election comes down to the word of a disgruntled ex-husband versus Scott’s record of corporate fraud, guess who wins that debate?
The Republican Party of Florida is attempting to already frame the campaign against Crist as an indictment of their former leader for his “myriad flip-flops-- on gay marriage, on taxation, on health care reform.”
Well, yeah, sure, Charlie has some explaining to do. Then again, who’s better at ‘plaining than good ol’ Charlie. Dude could talk his way out of a sunburn.
According to the last Quinnipiac poll, Florida voters say 50 – 40 percent that Crist’s switch from Republican to independent and now to Democrat is a positive thing that shows he is a pragmatist, rather than a negative thing that shows he lacks core beliefs.
“These numbers indicate Republicans will have a tough job turning around Crist’s lead over Scott by reminding voters of Crist’s evolution,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
The numbers speak for themselves when addressing McCoy’s final point-- that Crist won’t win.
The last PPP poll: Crist 52%, Scott 40%; The last Q-poll: Crist 50%, Scott 34%.
Rick Scott and the Republicans will huff and puff and blow the house down with $150 million in attacks on Crist and all this will do is reinforce the negative perception voters have held of Scott since his first year in office.
And therein lies the only legitimate reason why Crist won’t run for Governor. Not because of any of the five or fifteen or fifty McCoy might outline. Rather, it’s the possibility that Crist could very well win that he may not run.
I don’t know if Charlie (or Carole) wants to again live in Tallahassee. I don’t know if he wants to preside over Cabinet meetings with Jeff Atwater and Pam Bondi beside him. I don’t know if he wants to be in charge of DBPR, DEP, DMS and the alphabet soup of the state bureaucracy.Yep... Crist would much prefer being a senator, no doubt about that. But does Bill Nelson want to live in Tallahassee? Can Obama and Wasserman Schultz persuade him to be a pawn in their little drama? And then there's Nan Rich, who really does want to govern Florida-- and govern Florida as a progressive. Wasserman Schultz and her machine are doing their best to make sure that never happens. Here's the speech Senator Rich wrote to give at this weekend's Florida Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson dinner-- a speech Wasserman Schultz made sure she would not be allowed to deliver:
I don’t know if Charlie wants to run for Governor because I don’t know if he wants to govern. And I say that as someone who knows him pretty well.
Why I’m RunningThis kind of Democratic talk makes Debbie Wasserman Schultz's skin crawl... unless it's delivered wit tongue firmly planted in cheek. And that's why she made she Nan Rich couldn't deliver it. Maybe that will backfire on the corporate shills like Wasserman Schultz who run the Florida Democratic Party-- and have run it into the ground. I hope so.
June 14, 2013
My name is Nan Rich and I am running for governor!
In November 2014, Florida’s voters will choose who will lead the state for the next 4 years.
Will they want to continue down a path paved with false promises and failed policies-- or are they ready to change direction-- change priorities-- and get Florida back on the right track?
Well... that’s an easy question for me to answer.
But what about you?
Are you ready to “Pink Slip Rick” and get Florida back on the right track?
During the 2010 Gubernatorial Campaign, Rick Scott made “Let’s get to work” his theme.
But we didn’t know then what it really meant. Since taking office, Rick Scott and the Right-wing Republican-led legislature really did get to work.
They worked to make it harder for people to vote.
They worked to undermine public education.
They worked to restrict women’s reproductive rights.
And they worked to block Floridians from the benefits of the Affordable Health Care Act.
None of these initiatives created even 1 job in Florida.
Worse yet, the Governor turned away more than $2.4 billion Federal dollars for a high- speed rail line that would have created over 20 thousand jobs and built new and valuable transportation infrastructure.
Governor Scott and the legislature also refused to request or accept tens of millions of Federal health care dollars that could have protected children against abuse and kept frail seniors out of nursing homes.
And, most recently, they refused to accept $51 billion dollars in federal funds-- our tax dollars-- to expand Medicaid; which, in addition to depriving over a million Floridians from healthcare coverage, also will cost the state an estimated 120,000 jobs over the next 10 years.Put simply, there are few decisions that Governor Scott has made that I believe have been in the best interest of Floridians.
That’s why I’m running for governor.
A majority of Floridians don’t want private, for-profit management companies taking over their schools-- they support strong public schools and want a quality education for their children.
So do I.
Education is the path to prosperity and an educated and skilled workforce is the most essential element in attracting new business and economic development to Florida.
Floridians want health care coverage that’s available and affordable. So do I.
The Affordable Health Care Act is the law of the land and the Governor and legislature need to implement it.
A majority of Floridians believe women’s reproductive rights should be protected. So do I.
The assault on women’s rights must be stopped. Women must have the right to control their own lives and their own bodies.
And there can be no doubt that a majority of Floridians expect their right to vote to be protected and encouraged by their government.
So-- do-- I!
The blatant efforts by this Governor and Republican-led legislature to suppress Democratic voters is shameful and nothing short of an attack on a fundamental right of every American citizen.
Voters stood in line until 1:30 in the morning long after they knew that Barak Obama was re- elected because they were not going to let anybody take away their precious right to vote.
I’m a lifelong Democrat.
I’m a Democrat because of our Party’s values and priorities.
We believe in fairness-- in putting the needs of people first.
We believe the civil rights of every individual must be protected regardless of race, creed, gender, age, or sexual orientation.
We believe that our elderly and disabled should be cared for with dignity and respect.
We believe in the right to a public education and the opportunity for everyone to reach their full potential.
I have fought for these rights-- as a state representative, as a State Senator, and as the first elected woman leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus.
And I am prepared and ready to do so now as governor.
Right now, I am the only Democratic candidate who’s been actively campaigning across the state-- and the primary just a little more than a year away.
And while I haven’t run for statewide office before, I would like you to recall a little bit of Florida history.
When Reubin Askew launched his campaign for Governor, he was a little-known state senator from North Florida.
When Bob Graham started his campaign he was a little-known state senator from South Florida.
And when Lawton Chiles began walkin’ the state-- he too was a little-known state senator from Central Florida.
All three of those candidates faced better financed and better-known “front runners” when they ran. They were the dark horses-- the long shots.
But they won.
I intend to carry on that tradition-- the tradition of Florida’s greatest leaders-- by earning the trust and votes of a majority of Florida’s voters in November 2014.
I made history when I was elected the first woman leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and with your support, I plan on making history again when I’m elected the first woman governor of Florida in November 2014.
Join me-- join the campaign-- let’s make history together!