In the Democratic primary race for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, there couldn’t be more of a contrast between the two major candidates running for the seat, former State Senate Democratic leader Al Lawson and current State Representative Leonard Bembry.
During his time in the Legislature, Lawson has been a solid Democratic leader, supporting many progressive ideas while also being able to help the rural voters in his district. Lawson has both shown his leadership and his true commitment to Democratic values while serving all of his constituents, no matter their political leaning.
On the other side of the equation, Bembry is a conservative and resembles more his Republican opponent, Steve Southerland, than any Democrat. In the latest Political Hurricane Progressive House Scorecard (which will be released tomorrow), Bembry placed an embarrassing last among Democrats. In addition, Bembry placed as the highest Democrat in the pro-Republican Associated Industries of Florida scorecard, voting with their agenda 88% of the time any nearly rivaling the Republicans in the House.
Therefore, Bembry doesn’t really show us any difference between himself and Mr. Southerland, with the exception of having a “D” next to his name. And with that being said, how can we assured he would remain a Democrat once elected to Congress? We can’t.
There is a difference between a traditional southern Democrat and a conservative Republican. While conservative on some issues, rural Democrats usually are more economically progressive and will still vote that way. For example, Allen Boyd had an ADA (Americans for Democratic Action, which is a progressive organization) rating of 75%, which, in comparison, was higher than Jim Matheson (D-Utah), who had a 55%. There is no indication from his Florida House voting record that Bembry would even be close to having as progressive of a voting record as Boyd or, possibly, even Matheson. But we do feel highly confident that Lawson will continue his support for progressive causes.
Southern Democrats in Congress have been known since 1994 to cut the best deals for themselves with the GOP majority. Several Democrats with more moderate records than Bembry have been wooed to cross the aisle with promises of good committee assignments and electoral protection. Bembry has represented a rural North Florida district where it is an advantage still to be a registered Democrat. But will he, once faced with the prospect of difficult races every two years and a particularly difficult electorate to the west of Tallahassee feel better protected as a Republican?
What is more disturbing is that it seems the Democratic Party (both Florida and the DCCC) have already decided to back Bembry. He currently is renting his office space for his campaign from the Florida Democratic Party. And while that isn’t a crime in-and-of itself, the fact that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added Bembry to their Red to Blue Races list is quite disturbing. It seems that the Democratic Party doesn’t have a problem taking sides in a primary, where there should be no party interference whatsoever.
We have contacted the DCCC regarding their favoring of Bembry in this race and have yet to receive a response.
If Bembry is elected, all indications are that he would be a Blue Dog Democrat that would continue to give us problems, like Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson has for so many years. There is no indication that he would support any progressive causes. While Lawson has supported conservative initiatives in the past, he has voted for liberal causes about as often as his district would permit, and was a proven competent leader in the Florida Senate. Lawson’s highest profile endorsement is from former Governor Charlie Crist, with whom Lawson forged an effective partnership as Senate Democratic Leader.
During the general election of 2012, voters in the 2nd Congressional District need a clear choice between the two candidates. A Southerland vs. Bembry match up doesn’t give us that choice. And if voters are faced with, essentially, two Republicans running against each other, why wouldn’t they pick the real Republican?
Al Lawson gives voters that contrast. Almost defeating Allen Boyd in the 2010 primary, Lawson has shown election after election that he is a capable “vote getter” in both black and white communities. In addition, Lawson does what he can to help all communities in his district, especially when he was in the State Senate, where he had to reach out to the rural communities of north Florida. We feel that Lawson would be a productive Congressman for all the people in the district, something we do not feel Bembry will be able to accomplish.
The Political Hurricane highly recommends and endorses Al Lawson in the Democratic Primary for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District.
Click here to donate to the Al Lawson Campaign today.