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Dems have a real shot at retaking FL Senate. They just have to ignore consultants who are blowing it

6 min read

Some people should not be in politics. I’m not talking just about perennial losers like Dick Morris or Doug Schoen. I’m talking about people who promote losing strategies, and double-down when those strategies fail. 

You and I saw this on the national level. The Democratic strategy was to focus on the coastal states and Illinois, and ignore everyone else. (How did that strategy work, President Kerry?) Then Howard Dean became the chair of the DNC. Dean famously fired all the consultants, and funded local organizing and technical assistance to implement his “50 State Strategy”. Man, was hell raised about it. Yet by every metric, it was a success. Democrats made significant gains in red states from the national to local level. 

Then, for reasons I will never understand, we dropped that strategy. That decision, coupled with the GOP’s laser-like focus on state legislation races, means that our party has suffered the biggest legislative losses in decades.

The ingrained mentality that we shouldn’t focus on any area we think we can’t win is not only a losing mentality, but perpetuates a vicious cycle. If an area gets no help because it’s viewed as “weak”, turnout is going to be low—which is why they are perceived as “weak”, and so on. 

This mentality has not just infected party leaders, but is the prevailing theory among many major campaigns as well. Consultants want to focus on small, specific areas and ignore everywhere else. 

Here in Florida, we have more registered Democrats than republicans, yet we have lost every statewide office (except for Bill Nelson—who might lose his seat) and have allowed the GOP to build majorities in both the Florida House and Senate.  It is very unlikely we will win back the Florida House, but we are just a half-dozen seats away from winning the Florida Senate back. 

A good strategy to win control back would be to support ALL of the Democratic Senate primary victors in one way or another. OK, I get that you don't want to donate in every race—even just to cover the stupid $800-$1500 fee just for the candidate to use the VAN voter list they need. (Why do they have to pay for this?) But fine. That’s totally cool.

Then how about at least endorsing the primary candidate victor in that district?  

Or, how about just inviting them to stand on stage with you when a statewide candidate (Nelson, Gillum, Shaw, etc.) comes to your county to campaign? 

These actions cost you nothing, but allow exposure to good, qualified primary winners.  Right now, they are telling me they can’t even get that. Apparently, certain political “consultants” think that 1) associating with a candidate in a tough race would somehow reflect poorly on the top-tier candidate running, and/or 2) every donation or volunteer opportunity to one of these candidates means less of a donation or volunteer for other candidates.  I can’t stress enough how stupid this mentality is.   

Right now, the Florida Dem strategy for winning the State Senate back is to focus solely on 5-6 seats, which are getting resources and funding. These are good candidates, and I will link to them at the bottom. Yet the others running aren’t even getting a shout out. Why?

I think a better strategy would be to give some sort of attention to the other senate candidates running. I listed some below who could use some nurturing before the donation window closes.  (Thursday, Nov 1,  at 11:59pm EST)

If these candidates are going to get any help with resources, donations or volunteers, it will have to come from the grassroots. Us.

Here we go:

  • FL SD 2: Gigi Gibson: Attorney, single-mother, caregiver who is sick of letting the GOP win this district without a contest. Her opponent, George Gainer, rejected a two year moratorium on the sale of AR-15s right after the Parkland massacre and supports Rick Scott’s efforts to privatize public beaches.

  • FL SD4: Billee Bussard is a retired journalist and long-time Democratic activist who is giving the GOP incumbent a run for his money. She exposed the network of Tallahassee lawmakers on the take by special interests and the hacking vulnerability of electronic voting machines. (The elections office later abandoned them.) Her GOP opponent, Aaron Bean, voted for the law that allowed rich oceanfront property owners to fence off “dry” sands and arrest beach-goers for trespassing.

  • FL SD12: Gary McKechnie is a teacher, author, and progressive activist. He is running against Dennis Baxley, who sponsored Florida's infamous Stand Your Ground, delayed the Florida Slavery Memorial, and strongly supports preserving all Confederate monuments.

  • FL SD26:  Catherine Price is a nurse and a public health administrator who is running because she got sick of seeing Floridians go without the care they need because they either lack access to care or it is too expensive. Her GOP opponent, Denise Grimsley, defended the practice of raiding trust funds.

  • FL SD28: Annisa Karim was initially the congressional candidate for CD25, but dropped out when Mary Barzee Flores announced she would run for that district. Karim is a graduate of Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, and is an environmental scientist who holds several advanced degrees in conservation from UF. She is also the land stewardship coordinator for Lee County. Her opponent is Kathy Passidomo, who’s claim to fame is that she authored legislation to make it a lot quicker for banks to foreclose on houses.

The candidates below have been the ones that have been getting some attention and love from our party:

Attorney General candidate Shaw endorsing Olivia Babis
  • FL SD 23 Olivia Babis just joined this list. She had to fight for equal rights her whole life—she was born without arms. Her tenacity led to a successful career as a disability advocate, and the state party just made a large contribution to her campaign. She’s pretty amazing. (She’s also a DKos community member.)

  • FL SD8: Kayser Enneking, MD, is a mother of two, a lifelong Gainesville resident and longtime UF Health physician.

  • FL SD16 Amanda Murphy has a long track record of accomplishments serving in the Florida House. The seat she is seeking in the FL Senate is open.

  • FL SD22 Bob Doyel had an intervention by a teacher when he was a youngster, and put him on the path to be a law professor, lawyer, and judge. Great story compared to his opponent, who is a GOP rubber stamp.

  • FL SD 24 Lindsay Cross is Executive Director of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, director with the Tampa Bay National Estuary Program for over 14 years.  She knows how to fight redtide.

  • FL SD 36 David Perez is a firefighter, paramedic, union leader, and son of immigrants.

  • FL SD 14 Melissa (Mel) Martin also just joined this list. She retired as a Marine Corps officer, Staff Judge Advocate, and environmentalist.…

I know our Senate and Governor’s race is getting all of the attention, but if we flip the State Senate, we can finally be on the path of reconstructing Florida after 20 years of GOP abuse, corruption, and neglect.

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