Yesterday, I started a meandering electoral post with the ridiculous hand-jive video by coked-up Miami freshman Rep. Maria Salazar, possibly the one Cawthorn saw snorting a line. I was incredulous that she didn't have a plausible Democratic opponent in such a competitive district. Patrick Toomey, a frequent Florida correspondent, responded with what he termed some good news: "it does look like Salazar will face serious challenger(s) after all." On paper at least, this is still a marginally blue seat.
A Miami-Dade County commissioner is ready to give up her seat early to run in the Democratic primary to challenge first-term Republican Maria Elvira Salazar in District 27, and a Miami city commissioner is dropping his U.S. Senate bid to join the primary fight, too. Eileen Higgins, in the second year of her first full four-year term on the county commission, plans to announce her Congressional campaign soon, said Christian Ulvert, her longtime campaign manager. Florida’s resign-to-run law requires her to sign resignation papers by early June that would be effective at the start of 2023, when members of Congress get sworn into office.
Miami Commissioner Ken Russell this weekend also announced his own run in the Democratic primary for the District 27, saying he’s ending his uphill campaign to challenge against fellow Democrat Val Demings to challenge Marco Rubio for a Florida Senate seat. He was already planning to resign his city seat, where term limit rules bar him from running again in 2023.
Russell said he reached out to the Democratic congressional committee last week about switching to the District 27 race, and he said the party was not aware of a viable candidate.
Toomey noted that "The DCCC and the mandarins can rally behind Schrader in a contested primary and Pelosi can formally endorse Chain Gang Charlie Crist in the Florida gubernatorial election, but the DCCC apparently never got around to recruiting a viable challenger in a D+1 CD until 2 fell into their lap."
He also recommended this lead article in today’s paper, this one locked behind a paywall:
Liberal grassroots groups in Florida are reducing staff and scaling back voter-outreach efforts because of a growing reluctance from out-of-state donors to spend money on the state, say top progressive strategists.
If the financial pull back continues, they warn, it threatens not only the party’s chances in this year’s slate of midterm races but also Florida’s place as a top-tier battleground in the 2024 presidential election.
“There is a debate happening,” said Greg Speed, president of the national progressive organizing group America Votes. “And some think, due to Florida’s size and recent disappointments, we should shift resources and focus elsewhere.” America Votes, which has helped organize voters in the state since 2007, is one of the groups shrinking its footprint, planning to ditch a statewide organizing effort in favor of a regionally focused one. After years of “massive investment” in turnout operations, Speed said, this year’s effort “is shaping up to be more regionally focused and probably smaller overall.”
..."You always tend to pull back when you think you’re going to lose," said John Morgan, a former Central Florida Democrat turned independent donor. "There’s only so much money to go around. And when you read the tea leaves, it doesn’t look good for Florida, for Democrats."
Cindy Banyai, the progressive candidate taking on far right whack-job Byron Donalds in southwest Florida, knows what candidates are up against from their own dysfunctional party. She told me she's "disappointed by the perpetual scarcity mentality demonstrated by the Democratic Party. Every race is an opportunity for investment in candidates, staff, and building community. Many winnable districts across Florida have grown redder because of the shortsighted strategy of only supporting and investing in 'golden child' candidates and races." You can contribute to Cindy's campaign-- and the campaigns of the other Florida candidates Blue America backs by clicking here or on the Florida thermometer below.
There are Florida Democrats far less pessimistic. I asked north Florida activist Joshua Hicks, an old friend and a candidate for the Jacksonville City Council. "It's not surprising." he said, "groups are giving up on Florida... election after election, we've had some very disappointing outcomes. But the activists in Florida aren't giving up-- and they shouldn't! It's important to remember, we've won statewide races in Florida in 2008, 2012 (Obama), 2012 (Nelson) and 2018 (Fried)-- all in the past 10 years. So even with all the downplaying of Florida's future prospects, which after the 2020 nightmare, it is understandable, Florida can still elect the right Democrat at the right time. But what we must do first is stop running in races against each other and we need to support as many viable candidates in our local and state races as we can find, to build the bench for the future, and to support turnout come November of 2022. It's all about organization. All is not lost in Florida yet but our time is running out. It's now or never and we need to organize and support every Democrat up and down the ballot."
You can probably imagine how this discussion animated Alan Grayson, the greatest and most accomplished member of Congress from Orlando in history. "The GOP, he told me, "has run a very effective campaign, employing the usual mind-games, to try to redirect the resources needed for voter registration somewhere else. This overlooks the fact that there are 1.7 million convicted felons to register, they skew 3-to-1 Democratic, and at last count, less than four percent of them had been registered. It also overlooks the fact that there are 500,000 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds to register, and they skew almost 2-to-1 Democratic. Remember that Andrew Gillum lost by 30,000 votes, and Bill Nelson lost by 10,000 votes. Obama won Florida twice, basically on turnout. Come on, national 'leaders,' open your eyes to the facts!"