Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Florida progressives rejoice — Alan Grayson is back in state's congressional mix, Allen West is out

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2012 at 11:18 AM

Alan Grayson
  • Alan Grayson
One of the more absurd aspects of modern politics is how Americans never tire of bitching about Congress — and then promptly re-elect their own representatives at an alarmingly reliable clip.

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.

For all of his notoriety, Grayson has only served in Congress for two years (2008-2010). In the great 2010 Florida Tea Party renaissance, he was thrashed in his bid for re-election by 18 points. But this time around he beat Republican challenger Todd Long in Florida's 9th congressional district race by 23 percentage points.

The newly drawn district was geared for a Democrat to easily win. It includes Osceola County and parts of Orange and Polk. Grayson raised $3.5 million in campaign funds to Long's $91,000.

He is a classic liberal, and became a national hero to the left when he blasted Republicans on the House floor in 2009 for their opposition to President Obama's health care law, saying their alternative was to "die quickly."

He is also anti-war and pro getting tough on Wall Street.

Another big congressional race in Florida (that the eyes of the nation were following) was Allen West's bid for re-election in CD-18, an evenly split district that was redrawn in 2010.

West was a cult hero to the Tea Party, in part for his incendiary comments about liberals and Democrats such as calling Debbie Wasserman Schultz "vile" and "not a lady," saying that more than 80 House Democrats are Communist Party members, comparing being gay to liking chocolate chip ice cream, and saying two times that Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels would "truly be proud" of the current Democratic Party.

Democrat Patrick Murphy defeated West, even though he spent $13 million less than West.

(West isn't conceding yet. His campaign manager sent out a press release that stated, "this race is far from decided and there is no rush to declare an outcome. Ensuring a fair and accurate counting of all ballots is of the utmost importance.")

In another big Florida congressional race in Miami-Dade County, Democrat Joe Garcia beat out the ethically challenged David Rivera, a close ally of Marco Rubio. And in Palm Beach County, Democrat Lois Frankel edged out Republican Adam Hasner. Last year, Hasner originally ran for the GOP nomination for Senate before dropping out when Connie Mack IV entered the race.

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