There is a lot of buzz over the last few days about Buddy Dyer and if he plans on running for Governor of Florida. Orlando mayoral candidates Mike Cantone and Ken Mulvaney (gezzz…give up already) are knocking Mayor Dyer for not signing a pledge to not run for Governor. What is it with these Republicans and their pledges?
Anyway, over the last few years, I have been advocating for Buddy to make a run for Governor. Why? Well, there are a number of good reasons why.
First, he has turned around Orlando. Under Glenda Hood, downtown Orlando became a barren wasteland. The clubs and the shops all closed because she had the police harassing anyone and everyone that walked down the street. The public transportation system in Orlando was a total joke. The buildings all looked like they were still from the 1940s (as they were), and there was no hope for Orlando moving forward.
Under Buddy, that has changed. Downtown has revived. There are tons of things to do downtown in a safe environment. Not only has entertainment in downtown seen a boost, it has now become the “posh” place to live in Orlando. Gone are the days of the old Orlando where everything was a chain restaurant. Nowadays, there are unique places throughout the city where people can eat. In addition, ground has been broken on the SunRail project. Easily, Orlando has gone from a city moving backward to a city looking toward the future. Until Buddy, we were stuck in the early 1980s. Now, that has all changed.
That is the first reason Buddy would be a good candidate for Governor. What is the second? He is about the only electable Democrat throughout the state.
First of all, he is from Central Florida. Yes, I know that the FDP seems to dislike candidates from this region, but it is still a swing area no matter how much the old school Democrats like it or not. In addition, he has run for statewide office, though losing to an extremely popular Charlie Crist for Attorney General.
But another thing that would make Buddy a good candidate is that he knows what he is doing politically. I had the privileged to work on Buddy’s 1992 campaign and I saw both the man and the candidate. As far as knowing him personally, he is easily one of the nicest people in politics that I have worked with. Take John Edwards for example, who I worked for as well in 2008 in Nevada. When I met him, he was acting nice like most politicians. But when you get close to him, you have this feeling that he was acting phony. But you don’t see that with Buddy, he is just friendly and comes across that way. Basically, what you see is what you get.
In addition to him being an all-around nice guy, he is also good at the political and campaigning game. Rarely, if ever, do I see Buddy go negative. He has always tried to convince you to vote for him because he is the best candidate. This is unlike Mulvaney, who basically says “vote for me because I am not Buddy.” Anyone that can stand on their record alone has already proven to be a good candidate.
He also knows how to speak and debate. Honestly, some of our most recent candidates for Governor have failed drastically on this point. The McBride/Sink clan have a tradition of burning in flames during debates and taking possible victories and turning them into defeats. And with the exception of losing to Crist for Attorney General, Buddy has never lost.
So, one might ask, “why would we want to draft Buddy Dyer as the Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida when he has already lost a statewide election?” That answer is simple. When Buddy was a candidate for AG, he was running off a Senate record in which he was in the minority. Therefore, he really didn’t have anything that he could really call his own. He was qualified to be AG, but using your legislative record in an AG race isn’t the easiest thing to do. And, of course, Crist is more popular. Now, Buddy has a record of being an executive, and is one of the only Democratic candidates in the state that can show a list of actual accomplishments, not just “yea” and “nay” votes on the House or Senate floor.
But his record and how he conducts himself is only part of it. Buddy is also a candidate that can do well in any geographical location. Of course, being from Central Florida, he can capture the key counties of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Osceloa, Orange and Volusia. In addition, he might even be able to pull away a few north Florida votes with him being a Florida native with that southern accent. And, of course, he will win South Florida. Honestly, he is a candidate that can almost appeal to any electorate in any geographical location. Isn’t that what we should be looking for in a Democratic candidate?
Even with that being said, a lot of people also say “well, Rick Scott is so unpopular, so we will easily win the next election, right?” Again, not so fast. This is an easy question to answer. First of all, everyone hates Rick Scott, I think we can pretty much come to that conclusion. Therefore, someone will challenge him in the GOP primary. He will lose that challenge. That candidate, then, could easily win the general election, especially if we have a weak candidate. That is why if the GOP dumps Scott, which they will, a Democratic shoe-in isn’t exactly the likely scenario. In fact, I would say that the GOP would still have the upper hand.
Yes, some local Democrats complain about Buddy Dyer for one reason or another. But let’s just look at it, he has revived Orlando. It isn’t the same city as it was 20 years ago. I would assume that most of my progressive friends would support bringing commuter rail to Orlando. I know there are some labor issues regarding that, but we are in a right-to-work state and have to realize that we work in that type of atmosphere. Yes, we need to strike down the right-to-work laws in this state, and that starts with electing the right people. But on the question regarding Buddy Dyer for Governor, I think he has done a fantastic job as mayor and I would support him 150%.
Note: Buddy, if you are reading this, sorry if I don’t call you Mr. Mayor or Mayor Dyer a lot in this. I still know you as Buddy, and more than likely always will.