Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 8.28.14 - Will Florida Democrats unify for better results than 2010?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 9:04 AM

click to enlarge The Florida Democratic Party's unity event from 2010
  • The Florida Democratic Party's unity event from 2010

Four years ago, the Florida Democratic Party hosted a "unity" event in Tampa at the State Fairgrounds. Along with all of their Cabinet nominees like Alex Sink, Dan Gelber, Scott Maddox and Lorraine Ausley present, there were Dems like Dave Aronberg, whom Gelber had defeated in an intensely fought primary election, and Kendrick Meek, the party's Senate candidate (who would end up finishing third that year, behind Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist). It was a feel-good moment, and it meant nothing two months later when the Democrats got their clocks cleaned by state Republicans.

So will 2014 have a different ending for the Democrats, as they prepare for similar unity events today in Orland and Fort Lauderdale?

Impossible to say at this point, obviously. But please, don't take the lackluster turnout numbers in South Florida as a barometer. As we wrote leading into this week's primary election, it frankly wasn't that exciting a ballot, especially if you were part of the biggest affiliated group of voters in the state, independents, who are shut out of participating in primary elections.

But as President Obama admitted earlier this year, historically, Democrats don't vote in strong numbers in off-year elections, which is what 2014 is. That, as big as any lack of enthusiasm for Charlie Crist, is the issue for state Democrats going into November. Dems talked a good game immediately after Barack Obama took Florida for the second straight election in 2012, saying they needed to concentrate on those same groups of voters that the Obama team targeted: young, LGBT, women and minorities. If it doesn't happen this time, what's the excuse? That Crist isn't a "real Democrat." He may not be, but even if you take the moderate Republican that he was 2006-2010, the Democrats who are skittish on Crist have to consider whether that's better than the Rick Scott of 2010-2014....

In other news...

The Florida Education Association and a few other groups are poised to announce a lawsuit against the state's school voucher program, outraging state Republicans.

Pinellas-Pasco prosecutor Chris Sprowls is being touted a potential Speaker of the House. First he has to defeat Democrat Carl Zimmermann though, and be careful about touting studies that say it'd be better to have no health insurance and all than to be on Medicaid.

And it got a bit intense at the PSTA meeting in St. Petersburg yesterday, where a few members of the public called on PSTA CEO Brad Miller and board chair Ken Welch to resign after some recent controversies. Instead, PSTA board members gave them a unanimous vote of approval. 

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