Former Orlando congressman, Alan Grayson, officially launched an exploratory committee today for a U.S. Senate run. If he gets through the anti-progressive Chuck Schumer buzzsaw, he'll face Marco Rubio, a complete waste of a Senate seat. Leading up to his decision, I asked Grayson some questions about what difference he'd make in the lives of ordinary Floridians if he were to replace Rubio. Long before I even met him-- and before he ran for any office-- Grayson had been a big advocate for expanding Social Security. I asked him what that would look like for a regular person turning 50 or 55 or 60 or 65 (whatever the age of eligibility is going to be)?
"If COVID relief remains fashionable," he told me this morning, "we’ll see Social Security-type checks to younger people. And until we reach Medicare-for-All, we will see the age qualification drop, so that people will qualify at 60, and then 55, and then 50. Which is important. At the first Florida Democratic Party convention I attended, I met someone who was 63+, with cancer, exhausted insurance coverage, and just trying to hang on. He died. So a helping hand can be a saving grace."
In his letter to supporters today, Grayson asked a question of his own: "Should I Run Against Rubio, for the Senate?" The case he made for doing so was very straight-forward "We all need more fearless progressive champions in the Senate, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Florida needs an advocate who will expand Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits and public education. And Rubio the Robot needs to be sent home."
His attitude towards Rubio has been harsh-- and deservedly so-- no beating around the bush here. I asked him a stupid questin-- Is there even one thing that he's accomplished for Florida that was worth what he's cost the taxpayers? Was there even a worthwhile moment you can think of? He humored me. "I think that modest progress has been made regarding environmental improvement in the Everglades," he explained patiently. "But the money that Rubio claims that he has pried loose is less than $1 billion, and then thrown it at a $20 billion problem. While Rubio has been in office, the Army Corps of Engineers alone has spent more than $50 billion on 'Civil Works. The real question is why he-- and Rick Scott-- have come up with so little money for the Everglades." So, I guess that's no.
Grayson said his campaign "will be the most important Senate campaign of this decade. I will run a no-apologies campaign for justice, equality, compassion and peace. I will say what so badly needed to be said for the past five years: 'We’re all in this together.' I will demonstrate that progressive principles and policies are the wave of the future, in blue States, purple States, red States--in the United States."
That prompted me to ask him what will change in the lives of Floridians if he replaces Rubio, a question every voter should be asking. "There will be more," he said. "More Social Security, more Medicare, more health coverage, more after-tax income, higher wages, more unemployment insurance, more money for children, and more educational opportunities. Or as Samuel Gompers put it--somewhat more poetically-- 'What does Labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.'"
That's the kind of inspiration those of us who remember Alan for when he was a member of the House for 3 terms, 3 terms when he passed more legislation than any other member of Congress, despite the fact that 2 of those terms were in congresses with Republican majorities! One thing about Grayson-- he's a master legislator who knows how to work across the aisle to get progressive legislation passed without surrounding his values.
In his letter today, he said that Rubio "sounds like what a cuckoo clock would sound like if it were manufactured by Fox News. He’s an ineffectual, clueless lightweight who any stiff breeze would blow away. He’s also an obedient puppet on the strings of selfish corporate interests. And Rubio wants to parlay that into the Presidency, in 2024. But he can’t do that if we beat him in 2022."
I have no doubt that Schumer will try too shoe-horn one of his Republican-lite candidates into the nomination-- someone, like Patrick Murphy was 6 years ago, who means nothing to anyone but himself. Schumer seems to like Blue Dog chair Stephanie Murphy, "ex"-Republican/current Blue Dog Charlie Crist or self-obsessed, accomplishment-free Val Demings. Anyone but a strong and independent-minded Alan Grayson. Schumer brought us Kyrsten Sinema. Isn't that enough for him to go sit down and mind his own business anklet Floridians chose without his interference. Most of his handpicked candidates lose, the way Murphy did-- but I don't know if it's better when they lose or-- by chance-- when they win!
Schumer's baseless whispering campaign against Grayson saddled Florida-- and America--with 6 years of Marco Rubio. He needs to STFU and allow a battle of ideas to be put in front of Florida voters-- Rubio's stilted, narrow conservatism and Grayson's optimistic, inclusive, pragmatic progressivism. If you agree, please consider contributing to Alan Grayson's Senate campaign by clicking on the ActBlue thermometer on the right and giving what you can to his campaign. The image is a hot link and it will bring you to a Grayson contribution page.