Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Florida Primaries Happened Yesterday


Hard-fought wins in north Florida last night-- Angie and Adam

I get sick of repeating it so frequently, so I can imagine if you keep hearing it, you must get sick of it even more, but I'll say it again-- if the Ohio Democratic Party ceased to exist (which would be a really good thing for Ohio Democratic candidates)-- the Florida Democratic Party would be the worst in the country. But I'll add something, now I've never said before: after working with so many Floridians running for office this cycle, I feel confident in saying that the Florida Democratic Party is rapidly catching up-- in terms of over-all wretchedness and willful incompetence-- with the Ohio party.

Goal ThermometerYesterday our progressive candidates did exceedingly well in Florida, up and down the ballot. With all the races decided, nearly all the candidates Blue America supported will be in the general election. Our two giant primary winners yesterday were Adam Christensen for Congress (FL-03) and Angie Nixon for state House, who displaced the wicked witch of the north in the hottest Democratic primary in the state. Click on the thermometer on the right to see who all the progressive candidates we're supporting who will be on the general election ballot, including Cindy Banyai and Alan Cohn for Congress, Kathy Lewis, Rachel Brown and Heather Hunter for state Senate, and 15 state House candidates. Only one race remains undecided-- HD-32, where Ryan Morales, our candidate, is slightly behind.

"The primary results last night across Florida show voters are hungry for change," state House candidate Joshua Hicks told us this morning. "They want leaders who will address the important issues around the dinner table; not defend the corporate interests. I'm ready, from day one, to represent my entire community and to go to work every day in Tallahassee fighting for all of us. This race is not about me; it's about the people and the change we can make together in Northeast Florida. Republicans, Independents and Democrats are coming together in District 11 to demand more from their leaders and I'm ready to take on that demand, and get to work for them this November."

Yesterday's early morning ABC News post, before the polls in Florida had opened, by Will McDuffie-- Democratic activists hope down-ballot blitz in Florida pays off up-ballot-- probably created most excitement for his readers in something that wasn't as essential to me: "the tactic could be the key to Dems winning the state," by "Dems," Biden/Harris. Florida had no gubernatorial or U.S. Senate race on the ballot yesterday-- just some congressional races, few of which were seen as competitive-- and a lot of legislative races, an area where the state party has failed miserably year after year after year and seems as eager to fail again. 

Trump is doing himself in in Florida, and polls indicate Floridians-- laid low as a state by his handling of the pandemic-- are going to be unkind to him in November. The polling average shows Trump losing to Biden 50.3% to 45.3% and the most recent public poll (last week), CNBC's by Change Research shows Trump doing even worse-- 44%. "Scarred by narrow defeats at the ballot box in recent years," wrote McDuffie, "Democrats in Florida are planning a different approach this fall: Compete everywhere, no matter the odds." Ummm... "Democrats in Florida?" No! Activists, who the Florida Democratic Party worked against, is a more accurate description of who planned for and fought for that approach. Democrats, though not the incompetent hacks who make careers for themselves by working for the state party, "are touting the fact they have a candidate on the ballot in 140 out of 141 state House and Senate races, a strategy activists there say will spur Democratic turnout this fall, boosting Joe Biden and helping the party chip away at its deficit in both chambers of the state Legislature." Yep, that's the plan-- chipping away at the GOP grip on the legislature and helping reinvigorate a moribund party that has spent too much time in the last 2 decades protecting Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her cronies and no time at all on the offense.
The effort was conceived by Democratic activist Fergie Reid, Jr., who led a campaign in Virginia to register voters and recruit Democratic candidates, which culminated last year in the party's wresting control of the statehouse in Richmond.

The same, Reid believes, is possible in Florida.

"Florida is on the razor's edge," Reid said in an interview with ABC News. "It's not some inherent advantage that Republicans have. Democrats are just not playing hard enough."

In March, noticing that 33 state House and Senate races lacked Democratic candidates, Reid, who lives in California, enlisted activists on the ground to recruit Democrats to challenge for those seats. By the filing deadline in June, his team had filled each race. (One House candidate was disqualified from her race because of a technicality with her filing paperwork; she is challenging in court).

As of June 30, registered Democrats in Florida outnumbered registered Republicans by more than 250,000, according to the Florida Department of State's website.

The problem is, many rarely see enough Democrats on their ballots.

In 2016, 21 state House and Senate races went uncontested by Democrats, according to Florida Division of Elections archives. Donald Trump won Florida by only 113,000 votes, capturing 29 electoral votes in a key swing state that likely will prove critical again in 2020.

Democrats in Florida have suffered other losses by the thinnest of margins. In 2018, Republican Rick Scott edged incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson by about 10,000 votes, while Ron DeSantis beat out Democrat Andrew Gillum in the race for governor 49.6% to 49.2%.

Democratic activists have said flooding local races with candidates can erase those margins by producing a "reverse coattail" effect.

"The further down-ballot you have candidates, the more it helps up-ballot," Reid said. When Democrats don't have a Democrat to vote for, "They have to vote for the Republican, or just choose not to vote. And those people who choose not to vote, maybe they just don't go vote at all. And that causes depression at the top."

Down-ballot candidates can engage voters in a way candidates running for statewide or national office typically don't, according to Janelle Christensen, president of the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida, and a key player in the effort to recruit candidates to run for Florida's state legislature.

"When people have relationships with people locally who are running for office, they feel more engaged in the election process. They're more likely to vote, they're more likely to pay attention," Christensen explained.

...Beyond boosting Biden, Reid and Christensen hope that running more candidates will produce gains in the state Legislature, where Republicans hold a six-seat advantage in the Senate and a 26-seat advantage in the House.

The strategy, they said, is simple: The more races you compete in, the better your odds of winning seats.

They worry, however, that Democrats in the state have historically ignored races the party deemed unwinnable, focusing attention and funds on more competitive races in the state's urban centers, allowing Republican candidates to run up the score in rural counties.

"The argument I push back on the most is, 'That district is not winnable,'" Reid said. "That argument is asinine to me. How can you expect to win if you don't play?"

That argument, though, surfaced last month when State Sen. Gary Farmer, the incoming Democratic Leader in the chamber, published a Tweet that dismissed races like Butler's in District 1 as "long shots" and suggesting that the party should not fund them. "I'm guided by science and reality. Contesting every race is great if you have $ to do so. We simply don't & won't until we achieve majority," he wrote.

Farmer didn't respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

"I disagree with him," said Eubanks, of Escambia County. "Because if Democrats don't have anyone to vote for, when are we ever going to get more people who will run for office and be able to win seats?"

On Wednesday, with the primaries over, the Florida Democratic Party plans to introduce new investments as part of its "elections program," created in June to assist Democrats in down-ballot races statewide. Rosy Gonzalez Speers, the FDP's [incredibly incompetent and venal] senior adviser for down-ballot elections, is optimistic that the party can flip some state legislative seats blue, while also boosting turnout for Biden.
One thing is absolutely certain, if Rosy Gonzalez Speers, Party chair Terrie Rizzo and party executive director Juan Peñalosa all moved to Columbus and went to work for the Ohio Democratic Party, it wouldn't make that party any worse, but it would at least offer Florida Democrats a way out of the deep, dark hole it has dug for itself with years and years and years of mismanagement and terrible, defensive, loser strategy.

Bob Lynch is the general election candidate against entrenched Trumpist incumbent Daniel Perez in Miami-Dade. This morning he told me that he's "very glad that ABC News and other reporters are starting to dig around in Florida. There is a Pulitzer waiting for a reporter willing to strike the main nerve. The most important thing is to get Biden/Harris elected. If we don’t do that, none of the rest of it matters." 

But then he took a different tack than one normally hears from a first-time candidate about to embark on a general election campaign: "Between the reluctance of mega donors wanting to contribute to the state party due to the fraudulent PPP fiasco, sitting legislators telling Latina women not to run to make it easier for their Republican friends [the Republican "friend" lost her primary in a landslide last night, by the way], and senior level MDC and other county officials saying it is a waste of time and money to support female black candidates, we are facing an uphill battle. Meanwhile, people are dying and starving. Our teachers are in danger. Our national Senators are completely corrupt and helping the Russians. We have the historic chance to flip Florida and coupled with the Census, we can change the state for a decade. For whatever reason, our own party doesn’t even think it is worth a shot to help candidates unless they can raise enough money to get their preferred consultants and vendors paid. I knew going into it that politics was going to be a dirty game. I just never thought that one of the biggest fights was going to be against people who are supposed to be on our same side."

I suspect we're going to be hearing a lot more from Bob between now and November-- and beyond. And from Adam Christensen as well. It was close and a late call-- around noon today-- but...

Labels: , , , , , ,


At 1:57 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Beware corrupt corporate establishment the progressives are coming congratulations Adam & Angie

At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The race I deem most important is Shahid Buttar against Nancy "Pricy Ice Cream" Pelo$$i. Then some change might really happen before the corruption sets in.


Post a Comment

<< Home