I had thoughts of Florida as I wrote about the collapse of the national GOP brand the other day. I thought, you know, it's not all sunshine and lollipops, rainbows and butterflies out there for Democrats, bub. Being the vaguely responsible blogger than I am, I figured I'd have to do a contrasting piece talking about the very real effects of brand failure right here in Florida... for Democrats.
The roots of the Democrats' woes go back decades. Complacent party leaders long accustomed to dominating state government focused on their own political campaigns and did little or nothing to build a bench of future leaders or a lasting political operation for groomed political newcomers to plug into. Meanwhile, the Florida GOP methodically recruited talented candidates and built a formidable, data-driven political machine.
"Ultimately Cabinet offices and the Governor's Mansion are critically important in giving us something to organize our party around long term. But we would be making a mistake if we say let's just focus all on this, because it's not that simple. You've got to build a lot of other places, too. We ought to be out there and identifying the person we think could be running for office in 2016 and 2018, 2020. That's what Tom Slade did," said Smith, referring to the former GOP chairman who ushered his state party into majority status during the early 1990s.
What happens when you don't think about how you're going to market yourself in the future? You plan to fail, that's what.
Look, I've gotten no less than six different phone calls from six different people all of whom have told me to keep this very big secret very, very secret! "Hush!" they whisper in dramatic tones, "no one can know this..." And then they all proceed to tell me the same exact thing: Alex Sink is going to run again against hospital grifter Governor Rick Scott.
First of all, memo to friends and contacts: if it's not painfully obvious that Alex is running again, then I respectfully suggest you either quit politics, or start drinking (more). Because you don't give interviews for articles like this one and not run for governor. (A terrible article for her, by the way, if only because it ended with former Florida GOP Chairman and State Senator John Thrasher assaulting us with a verbal boner at the idea of a Sink-Scott re-match: "That would be the best opponent we could ever have.")
I am all too pleased to link to a Saint Petersblog post to finish up the Sink talk, finally: her foundation, or think tank, or whatever it is, sent out an email at 6:30 pm. On a Friday night. Who does that? If you still don't think she's running for governor, give the press release a good read. She is announcing a new CEO for the organization (uncreatively titled Florida Next): Dr. Steve Freedman. I don't know a ton about him except that he's kind of the godfather of Florida Healthy Kids.
And he's an old Lawton Chiles guy.
Listen, from now on, anyone calls me with "the big scoop" that Alex is running for governor, and you're cut off. I only want to hear from you if there's movement in the race for your local dog-catcher.
To me, the bench problem is a lot bigger than just who's going to run for Florida Governor in 2014.
Everyone knows I love Rep. Rick Kriseman here in House District 53, but I also believe St. Petersburg has a ho-hum mayor in Bill Foster. [ASIDE: I'll be covering what amounts to, from my view, a building avalanche of disappointment in the mayor, starting with Peter Schorsch of the aforementioned Saint Petersblog. I haven't talked to him about it, but he seemed pretty pissed the mayor took all the credit for (ugh) "saving" the Saint Petersburg postmark. Free advice to the mayor, and if you don't know this by now, well, I don't know what to tell you: don't piss off Peter. Just don't do it. Also, there was a scathing piece from Tim Nickens in the Tampa Bay Times. It's pretty hard-core, and the juxtaposition of those two things bodes poorly for Mayor Foster. I'll write about this more at a later time.]
I'd love for Rep. Kriseman, who was quoted in the Adam Smith piece, to run for mayor. I'd love for him to run for re-election, though, too -- we need all the help in Tallahassee we can get. If Rick ran for re-election, I think Ken Welch, a fantastic County Commissioner we have here in Pinellas, would make a great mayor. But why would he leave his job at the County? And would we really want him to?
Here's bottom line: Florida Democrats let our brand go sour, just like national Republicans are letting theirs sour.
So who is there buzz about? New Mayor Alvin Brown of Jacksonville, maybe. Keith Fitzgerald, running for that congressional seat in the current District 13 against corrupt thug Vern Buchanan. Rick Kriseman, but only locally. Those mayors Smith mentioned, sure.
I love Bob Graham, but that's not reality.
Rod Smith? Um, no thanks.
Alex Sink? Hell no. Charlie Crist? There's only one person I'm going to raise more hell over than Alex Sink running to be the Democratic nominee for Florida Governor, and that's Charlie Crist. Hell. No.
Hey, we Democrats are in a box, just like the national Republicans. I'm not saying there's an easy -- or quick -- answer. But I sure hope someone is working on one.