The state of Florida is expected to announce sometime today the final results of the presidential election in the Sunshine State. You know, the one that ended on Tuesday?
On Friday, CNN's Ashleigh Banfield, who observed first-hand the hours-long lines that voters in Miami-Dade County endured on Election Day, finally got somebody in charge from Florida to go on the air and defend what happened on Tuesday. Governor Scott was apparently too busy, so Secretary of State Ken Detzner did his job and went on the cable news network to try to explain this latest Florida electoral voting mess, 12 years after the Bush/Gore 36-day recount.
But as low as the Dems were in 2010, there was an equal high among party members on Wednesday, just hours after the state (probably) went for Barack Obama for the second straight election, and their own man (Bill Nelson) was re-elected to the Senate. Democrats also added numbers to both their state congressional and legislative ranks.
The big question now facing Florida Democrats is: Can the party replicate this effort two years from now, when Governor Rick Scott will face re-election in an off-year race — exactly the type of race during which Democratic voter enthusiasm traditionally falls well below the level of a presidential election?
Florida Democratic Party Chair Rod Smith says he thinks the party can pull off an Obama-like coalition — even without Barack Obama actually being on the ballot.
"We've got a tremendous opportunity now to take the next step," Smith said. "We've got to put together a ticket that wins state-wide," Smith says. The coalition would likely consist of women, blacks, Latinos and the young.
Of course that's predicated on the fact that most congressional districts are gerrymandered to overwhelmingly favor one particular party, taking a lot of the suspense or drama out of those 435 races that take place every two years.
In Tampa Bay, every local member of Congress was re-elected Tuesday night, all with relative ease.
That includes Bill Young, who was re-elected for the 22nd time in Pinellas County. His 58-42 percent margin, believe it or not, was the second closest contest since he was first elected in 1970 (only Karen Moffitt in 1992 got a higher percentage of the vote).
But for progressives in this state, who respect Bill Nelson's voting record but yearn for him to be a more dynamic leader, there are cheers because firebrand Alan Grayson is back in the state's congressional mix.
As of 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, all three justices each lead about 67 percent to 33 percent.
Officials with the group Defend Justice from Politics are hailing the victory.
"The need for a fair and impartial judiciary far outweighs individual disagreements with any specific opinion. Voters understood the question that was put to them and came down on the side of fair and impartial courts." —Sandy Talbot D'Alemberte, FSU professor and former American Bar Association president.
The Associated Press is reporting that with all of the polls closed (or somewhat closed, as there maybe some people still waiting in lines across the state), Bill Nelson has won re-election to a third term for U.S. Senate in Florida, defeating his Republican challenger, Connie Mack IV.
On Monday in Tampa, CL asked Mack what he made of the fact that, though a Mason-Dixon Poll taken over the weekend showed Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama by six points in the Sunshine State, the same pollster showed Mack losing to Nelson, 49-43 percent. Mack had said his fortunes would echo how well Romney did at the top of the ticket.
Mack said he didn't buy the polls. None of them that showed him losing, saying, "When you over sample Democrats by six points, it makes it difficult for us to win, but Democrats are not going to be six points higher on election day than Republicans . In fact, its never happened in the state of Florida … this race is either tied or we're up by a point or two, that's where we are. The day after the election you're all going to be writing stories about how the turnout model were all wrong in the polls and that Republicans turned out in record numbers."
Well, Republicans may end up tonight turning up in record numbers, but it won't be for Mack.
If you're a regular viewer of MSNBC's Morning Joe program like I am, you know that there are certain things and beliefs that hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski care about.
One thing that Scarborough has had absolute contempt about is anything to do with Democrats cries of voter suppression, something that we've heard a lot about in Florida, especially after HR 1355 was passed in the Florida Legislature in 2011, that among its provisions reduced the amount of early voting days from 14 to eight.
Yesterday you may have heard about the chaos in Miami-Dade County, where the elections supervisor opened up polling stations somewhat spontaneously. Then closed them. Then reopened them. Joe Scarborough didn't want to hear about, instead crying out "Benghazi," which of course has been a mantra from conservative groups. Watch below:
Mack has said that his fortunes will rise or fall depending on how the man at the top of the GOP ticket — Mitt Romney — fares in Florida. So how would one explain a Mason-Dixon poll conducted for the Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald/Tampa Bay Times that shows Romney up by six points over Obama (51-46), but Mack trailing Nelson by six points (49-43).
"When you oversample Democrats by six points, it makes it difficult for us to win," Mack told CL on Monday at the Romney Victory offices off Gandy Boulevard in South Tampa.
"But Democrats are not going to be six points higher on election day than Republicans," he continued. "In fact, it's never happened in the state of Florida. This race is either tied or we're up by a point or two. That's where we are."
Mack's contention that the polls are skewed is an opinion that is almost universally shared amongst Republicans this campaign season.
Apparently the Republican Party of Florida agrees, as its name is on a vicious mailer against Gottlieb that hit mailboxes in the district this past weekend.
The mailer depicts Occupy Wall Street activists on one side, and what appears to be a terrorist flinging a bomb on the other. At the bottom of the flyer it says, "Gail Gottlieb — Way Too Liberal, Way Too Extreme, Not One Of Us!" (You can view it here.)
Gottlieb is a Brandon native who has lived much of her professional life working for progressive groups in Washington D.C. and New York, which apparently makes her too radical for the district. But the Tampa Tribune's conservative editorial board didn't feel that way, as they endorsed her over her GOP opponent, Ross Spano (The Tampa Bay Times endorsed her as well).
Gottlieb calls the mailer "outrageous."
But he said, pausing, "I am far more enthusiastic about him than I was four years ago!!" in perhaps his most energetic line of the evening, coming in the first minute of his nearly 45-minute long, very wonkish address before approximately 2,000 people.
St. Pete was the fourth stop in a five-appearance campaign day in the Sunshine State for the 42nd president of the U.S, which has to be some sort of record for any such high-profile surrogate. But this isn't any surrogate, this is The Big Dog, now 66-years old, a man who underwent quadruple bypass surgery after suffering a heart attack eight years ago. Clinton was to follow up with one last rally in Tallahassee after St. Pete, following earlier events in Ft. Myers, Palm Bay, and Palm Beach County.
So the ex-prez was a little less energetic than usual, and did we say he was pretty wonky? He also was very hoarse, and the already less than stellar sound system ended up garbling large amounts of his speech on first listen, frustrating some members of the audience who bailed out before it ended at around 6:45 p.m.
Frankly, if you want quotes from the speech, I suggest you read the Tampa Tribune or the Tampa Bay Times because I could barely take any notes, so bad was the sound in the high school gymnasium-type of atmosphere that the Coliseum felt like Friday night.
Let me put it this way: if the sound was this bad at Clinton's speech at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte in early September, Barack Obama would be in a lot worse shape in his bid for re-election. Clinton's stemwinder at the DNC was a spellbinder, the "explainer-in-chief" giving a crafty and energetic and understandable presentation of President Obama's challenges and triumphs that instantly gave the Democrats a real "bounce," wowing the media and making it the first game-changer that the campaign had been looking for all year long.