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July Election Progress Report: Florida Democrats still lacking in candidate recruitment.

Republicans with overwhelming advantage over Democrats on every level.

Republicans with overwhelming advantage over Democrats on every level.

Every month, or after every filing deadline, I will be looking at the candidates running for state offices, seeing who has the edge. This purely looks at both parties and see if they are living up to expectations or not. So, this is the first “Election Progress Report”.

Governor’s Race - As of right now, we have Rick Scott and Nan Rich in the running. Eventually, we are expecting Charlie Crist to enter the race. But when will that be? As of right now the Republicans have the advantage purely because of the amount of money raised. But this might tighten up as time passes. Nobody really has an advantage in this race as of right now.
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Latest poll shows Scott improving, but still trailing.

crist-charlie-with-bill-nelsonYesterday, Quinnipiac University released their latest poll on Florida’s race for governor. Despite still being down to Charlie Crist, Governor Rick Scott closed the gap from 14% in the last Quinnipiac poll conducted in March to 10% in this latest poll. In addition to the closing of the poll numbers, the approval rating for Scott has jumped from being in the high-30s to 43% in this poll. In other match ups, Scott is leading former senator Nan Rich 42% to 36%, yet 84% of voters are unfamiliar with Rich. Bill Nelson also held a 10% lead over Crist, 48% to 38%. The only person of interest that wasn’t polled was Alex Sink. But in the previous March Quinnipiac poll, Alex Sink only held a 5% lead over Soctt.

So, what do these polls numbers mean?

Read the rest at “How The World Votes”. Click here.

Poor leadership at FDP shows with poor decision making.

Sen. Rich's JJ snub show not only favoritism, but incompetency.

Sen. Rich’s JJ snub show not only favoritism, but incompetency.

Back in 2007, when I worked for John Edwards in Reno, I attended the J-J Dinner which was held the day after the presidential debate between the major candidates. At that dinner, all of the Democratic candidate for president were able to speak at the event. Yes, I met the eventual president Barack Obama. I also met the future vice-president Joe Biden. I also met some of the other candidates, including former Alaska governor Mike Gravel. Basically, the entire Democratic field, even candidates who were not invited to attend the debate on the previous evening, were allowed to speak at the Nevada Democratic Party’s J-J Dinner.

In Florida, it seems we have a different case. The only serious candidate to announce that they are running for any constitutional office position, former Senator Nan Rich, had been told by the Florida Democratic Party that she would not be given a speaking spot at the upcoming J-J Dinner. Mind you, Senator Rich isn’t just someone who threw her name into the mix, with it eventually being removed once the filing deadline rolls around. She is a recent Senate minority leader and has already raised more than what most people expected this far into her campaign. So, Senator Rich’s exclusion from the upcoming J-J Dinner is baffling.
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Today’s PPP poll is released with highly questionable data.

Today, PPP release a poll looking at the Florida governor’s race and found that in a hypothetical match up, Charlie Crist would defeat Rick Scott by a margin of 52% to 40%. While this numbers seem kosher on its face value, there are very serious questions regarding the results which might make this poll obsolete. Before we go into the large errors, let’s look at some other aspects first.

1. Poll conducted of “voters”, not “likely voters”  - In midterm elections, Democratic voter turn out, as well as liberal voter turnout, usually suffers. Therefore, those who are likely to vote in the 2014 election will more than likely be more conservative than the electorate in general, who will be more liberal.

2. Liberals over-sampledIn a typical mid-term election, only about 19% of the electorate identifies themselves as being liberal. This number is consistent in exit polls in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 elections. In this sample, 30% of those who responded identified themselves as either “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal”. While this might be a correct calculation of “voters” in Florida, it is, historically, 11% more than exit polls indicate, which could indicate the discrepancy between “voters” and “likely voters”
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Former Republican is first Democratic House candidate to announce since Rouson’s victory.

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Scott Herman, Republican in November…Democrat today.

Less than one month after former Republican Darryl Rouson became head of the candidate recruitment for the Florida Democrats, a former Republican has already announced he is running for House District 93 in Broward County.

This candidate is Scott Herman. For those of you who might find that name familiar, this is the same man who ran against current Democratic Party Leader Perry Thurston in 2012…as a Republican.

Of course, we are not entirely sure if Rouson recruited Herman, who has only been a resident of the State of Florida since 2009. But if he did, then this might be a first mistake of his short term as top candidate recruiter.

This seems to possibly indicate a few things. First, if Rouson did recruit Herman, then Rouson seems to have strong contacts with the Republican Party, even today.
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The Crist Dilemma – Part I: How Charlie Crist can lose to Rick Scott.

charliemaniaEver since Charlie Crist announced that he had become a Democrat, local Democratic Parties around the state have gone into “Charliemania”. For example, the Manatee County Democratic Party has Crist as their main speaker for their next annual awards dinner, which is this weekend. But the Manatee County DEC is just one of many that have gone “ga ga” over Crist.

Over the past few months, those who support Charlie Crist (many who are former Republicans themselves) have gone around the state convincing real Democrats that Crist is the only Democratic candidate that can beat Rick Scott. In all honestly, they do have a point. The state of the Democratic Party in Florida is so dismal that Crist is the only serious Democratic candidate to run for this position. Therefore, the Florida Democratic Party only has themselves to blame for Crist being the only serious candidate for the position.

With that taken into account, the fact that Crist is the only serious candidate provides Florida Democrats with a lose-lose situation. Even if he wins, Democrats will more than likely lose. And still, he would have to beat Rick Scott, or possibly another Republican.

So, what could happen with Crist being the Democratic nominee?
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House Leadership Election in Final Stages: Some Closing Thoughts

Steve Bousquet reported in the Tampa Bay Times that we will finally have a House Leadership election on February 20th, more than a month after Darryl Rouson (D-St Petersburg) tried to call for a vote. While both Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville) and Rouson claim to have the commitments of be elected leader designee, our sources indicate that Rouson has signed pledges from at least  half the caucus and with verbal commitments (which by definition are soft) he has the support of over 2/3 of the 44 member caucus. Jones has the tacit support of current leader Perry Thurston (D-Plantation) and of several party staffers and consultants. It is worth noting once again that for a party that prides itself on being diverse, the Democrats have not had a female House leader in well over a decade.

Rouson is a former Republican whose views on some social issues have “evolved” with time and who has received lots of money from school “choice” advocates. Jones is clearly more liberal, but unlike Rouson who raised money for numerous Democrats running for State House in 2012, even those not targeted by House Victory, Jones own record in helping other Democrats is spotty at best.  During the 2012 cycle Rosuon even personally contributed to the recruitment of  many Democratic candidates, while Jones may have played a role in the underwhelming Democratic performance. This was a cycle where on a newly drawn map, the party captured only 35% of House seats while President Obama carried the state with 50% of the vote and Senator Nelson was reelected with 55% of the vote.

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While Florida Democrats continue leadership fight, Florida Republican are actually working.

Chris Sprowls, GOP candidate against Carl Zimmerman.

Chris Sprowls, GOP candidate against Carl Zimmerman.

Over the last few months, the only talk regarding the Florida Democrats Party has been the fight for the FDP Chair position. And while this position is important in regards to the direction of the party over the next four years, it isn’t as important as the overall goal, which is to get Democrats elected. On the other hand, Republicans have already started to position themselves for the 2014 election.

Even though it is extremely early in the election season, Republicans have already recruited quality candidates in what could be considered their two top targeted seats, as well as one seat that is more than likely in their top ten targets. As for the Democrats, there has been an absolute lack or recruitment during this period. While it is important that Democrats pick the right leader, it is important that those who work for the party do their jobs as well, even if they might not have jobs in the future. The fact is that they do now.

The three Democrats that the Republicans have already targeted are Mike Clelland, Neil Zimmerman and Karen Castor Dentel.

In the Mike Clelland race, Republicans have already recruited Scott Plakon, who actually lived in this district in 2012, but was forced to run in another district because he would be running against Chris Dorworth, who eventually lost. Plakon ran a sloppy, and controversial, campaign in 2012 which could hurt him in his race against Clelland. Still, even with this baggage, Mr. Clelland barely defeated ethically-challenged Mr. Dorworth in a Democratic year. The assumption is that the Republicans can easily win this seat in 2014. Still, the question that remains is if Plakon will be the only Republican candidate. Other Republicans who were afraid to take on Dorworth might jump into this race as well. Still, even with a possible bitter primary on the horizon, the Republicans are strong in this seat.
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Does defeating Rick Scott really matter in “party” politics?

rick-scott-sideIn 2014, Democrats have a chance to win back the Governor’s Mansion for the first time since Lawton Chiles narrowly defeated Jeb Bush in 1994. In the 20 years that the Republicans have held the position, we have had to deal with the poor decisions of Jeb Bush, Rick Scott and, yes, the newest member of the Democratic Party Charlie Crist. And with Rick Scott hovering around the 39% approval rating mark, the Democrats’ chances look good.

But does it really matter?

In regards to policy, it absolutely matters. But when it comes to Democratic Party politics, I’m not entirely sure.

When looking at the race, one thing sticks out, and that is Rick Scott’s 39% approval rating. As we all know that isn’t good at all. Therefore, if the Democrats do beat Rick Scott, was there any real challenge in doing so? Yes, on election night we will be celebrating that Scott is gone and whatever Democrat has defeated him. But what will be the reaction afterward?

After this past election, we see the Florida Democratic Party patting itself on the back for a lackluster performance. Many of the races those in the next election cycle. Therefore, what the Democrats gained in 2012 is not really anything that can be built on in 2014. It is what it is.
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“Historic” Victory Claimed by FDP Misleading

Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith has claimed the November 6th legislative election results were of a  “historic” nature. This statement difficult to understand when in both House and Senate the party merely returned to its pre-2010 election levels. The real cycle where Democrats stemmed the tide of past elections was in 2006, where a much greater percentage of targeted seats were won than this year.

The reality is that the Democrats in the State Legislature picked up a total of three seats that were not directly influenced by the “Fair Districts” Amendment that many activists claim had not worked. Furthermore, Florida’s Democrats left almost a dozen pick-up opportunities presented by Fair Districts on the table with poor targeting and even poorer allocation of resources.

The opportunities presented by Fair Districts were not taken advantage of by the Democrats. We are not quite sure how House Victory arrived at the specific districts they chose to target this election cycle. If one thing was fairly obvious it was that several good pickup opportunities that were obvious to outsiders were not exploited. Take HD-59 for example, a seat where the Democrats had a good candidate in Gail Gottlieb who was well connected and had a decent fundraising base. The district voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and has been trending more Democratic. Yet little effort was made in this seat. Look at HD-114 and HD-115 in Miami-Dade County where Ross Hancock and Jeffery “Doc” Solomon ran as self-recruited Democratic nominees. In both seats Alex Sink ran AHEAD of Obama’s 2008 total and this year that trend continued with Obama running stronger than Sink had. Hancock was an exceptionally good candidate knocking on doors for months and almost upset Erik Fresen, the ethically challenged Republican incumbent, despite being outspent 20-1.

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