Now that the Florida congressional districts-- as bad and as clearly unconstitutional as they are-- are in place, challengers have begun making decisions about running. I was very excited to see Christine Olivo make the decision to challenge Mario Diaz-Balart and, although I don't know them yet, I was glad to see Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Eileen Higgins jump into the race against Maria Salazar in a district that still leans, albeit just slightly, blue (from D+4 to D+1).
And speaking of getting to know new candidates, next month I'll be able to sit down with progressive Democrat Eddie Geller and complete the Blue America endorsement process in person. Eddie is running for a seat in an open central Florida district that used to run from the red exurbs southwest of Oralndo down into the Tampa suburbs. Under the new map, it's shed the Orlando exurbs and is now a more Tampa area district. The partisan lean has gone from R+14 to a more manageable R+7, especially with Franklin slinking off to a safer red seat south of the 15th.
As of March 31, Geller's grassroots, non-corporate campaign was extremely competitive:
State Rep. Jackie Toledo (R)- $322,627
Eddie Geller (D)- $283,814
Former Congressman Dennis Ross (R)- $73,025
Chris Chambers (R)- $8,831
Geller's platform is a pleasure and an inspiration to read. It's more or less all like this explanation of his stand on healthcare, below. As you read it, please consider contributing to his campaign here.
I believe that healthcare is a human right and that our current healthcare system prioritizes profit over accessibility and quality of care. As my mother-- who was a doctor and one of the smartest people I have known-- told me two decades ago, the way to fix our system is to ensure everyone is covered. While the Affordable Care Act has made improvements to the system, there is still much work to be done.
I unequivocally support passing Medicare for All so everyone has access to the care they need, regardless of their socioeconomic status. However, I also recognize that that will be a long fight and people need help right now. In the meantime, I support measures like reducing prescription drug prices, expanding Medicaid, and the creation of a public option that will drive down costs and increase accessibility for our most vulnerable populations.
Furthermore, ensuring that our seniors are taken care of is a moral imperative. I will fight against Republican attacks on Medicare and work to close the Medicare donut hole and rein in prescription drug costs, so no one will have to choose between filling a prescription and paying for groceries.
This morning Eddie told me he is eager to take on Toledo, one of the worst of teh Tallahassee extremists. "In light of the Supreme Court's leaked decision on Roe, it's hard to imagine the stakes being any higher for this coming election. My opponent, Jackie Toledo, has made banning abortion-- without exceptions for rape or incest-- a priority of hers. That is, when she's not attacking the LGBTQ+ community or banning math textbooks. We need Democrats who are unafraid to engage on these issues, because if no one pushes back, there's nothing Republicans won't put on the chopping block: marriage equality, birth control, or even multiplication tables."
Everyone is complaining that DeSantis' recent high-profile extremism is meant to coverup for his inability to confront Florida's increasingly dire affordable housing crisis. Geller, however, did take it on in a welcome indication that he plans to work on this once he gets to Washington: "Housing is a human right. The lack of affordable housing across FL-15 has reached crisis levels. Surging demand and a lack of new development have caused rents to increase by 30-40% and housing values by 50% in some cases. This is not sustainable and our elected leaders must take action. We need to increase the development of affordable housing and take steps to keep Wall Street from buying houses out from under Main Street."