The above pictured mail pieces paid for by the Florida Democratic Party were dropped in House District 42, a seat where John McCain defeated Barack Obama in 2008 by just a few hundred votes. Mike Horner was named in public documents as a client of a brothel under indictment. About 50 pages of evidence have been released about the brothel per the Orlando Sentinel.
Yet some Democratic legislators are questioning the party’s sound strategy in mailing these pieces. Rep. Jim Waldman (D-Coconut Creek) said “I respect Mike’s privacy at this point. Unfortunately, we can’t control what they do at the party. I wish we could.” Well, the reality of this situation is that Rep. Horner has been publicly named as a prominent client of a brothel that has allegedly violated Florida law. This isn’t a private matter, it is a public matter, involving a State Representative breaking the public trust.
Incoming Democratic Leader Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale) referred to the mailer as “intellectually dishonest.” Rep. Thurston is a great member and one of the best Democrats we have in the state but on this he’s wrong. He claims Horner’s resignation should have ended discussion of Horner, but the truth is that Horner is on the ballot still and is demonstrative of the culture of dishonesty, cronyism and corruption that has run through the legislature in the past few years.
Mike Horner may have resigned his seat but the Florida Democratic Party rightly knows his “legacy” and continued presence on the General Election ballot in Polk and Osceola counties makes him an issue whether some Democrats like it or not. It’s too bad some Democrats feel collegiality and deal cutting with the GOP, even in a situation like this, is more important than arming voters with information and education about who has represented them and what they stand for.
We’ve consistently called for the FDP’s communications strategy and messaging to be more aggressive. They have obliged towards the end of this cycle with some excellent mail pieces and TV ads in addition to some well scripted commentary by the party’s spokespeople. Sadly, some Democratic elected officials seem uncomfortable with this direction. (It should be noted in this instance that Rep. Waldman had backed several Republicans openly before first being elected to the State House in 2006.) But we urge the FDP to keep up the good work. Even if it does not pay off in 2012, this strategy will reap dividends down the road.