Ten More Things
Just as I predicted, the St. Petersburg Times has begun to vastly overstate the partisan significance of Rick Baker's re-election as St. Petersburg Mayor. Baker's margin was a gift of not having to run as a Republican. If he ever has to slap that (R) anchor behind his name, his St. Pete base will evaporate.
The biggest news of course in the past few weeks is that two independent polls in a row show Jim Davis tied or slightly ahead of the Republican candidates for Governor. But missed in the second poll (Rasmussen Report) was that they apparently didn't poll Rod Smith at all. There's no way to spin that you're a winner when an independent polling report doesn’t even include you as a candidate.
News that Buddy MacKay endorsed Jim Davis this week may be news but it has me baffled. I love Buddy MacKay and worked to elect him in 1998. But MacKay's policy-centric, personality-light style (and the results it delivered) may not be the image Davis wants to embrace.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has served his time in political time-out. Before he was dragged into the public square on a bogus political charge, Dyer was a true emerging force in Florida politics. I hope some statewide candidate has the courage to ask Dyer inside their inner circle and I hope Dyer has the confidence to accept.
A few years ago, some Legislators created the Mainstream Democrats (www.MainstreamDemocrats.org) in an attempt to moderate the message of Democrats and appeal to business interests - similar to DLC. But doesn't the name imply that if you're not pro-business and socially conservative, you're out of the mainstream? Is that really what we want to say about ourselves?
On a related note, Attorney General candidate Skip Campbell may discover the ugly flip side of being a new, "mainstream" Democrat. Following the DLC play-book, Campbell has tried to position himself as a moderate to appeal to more conservative voters. But to conservative north Florida voters, Campbell will always be a Broward County trial lawyer. And to liberal south Florida voters, Campbell will be another un-inspiring, conservative DLC candidate. The result: by trying to be both, Campbell may end up with neither.
As George Bush's approval numbers continue to slide, Democrats should have credible candidates in every congressional race in Florida. In 1994, Republicans moved more than 50 seats in Congress and 2006 could be a better national year. But like the lottery, we can't win if we don't play.
Speaking of the DCCC, who over there thought it was a good idea to back Greg Rublee so early in District 9 (Bilirakis)? Rublee was always a weak candidate and his website still headlines an endorsement from DCCC Chief Rahm Emanuel. But now that Democrat Phyllis Busansky is running, Emanuel is in the awkward position of hosting a fundraiser for Busansky - the opponent of his previously endorsed choice.
In more than 20 years, no Democrat has won Florida without winning Miami-Dade County where more than two-thirds of voters are African-American, Hispanic or Jewish. Makes me wonder why every statewide Democratic candidate is a white Christian.
I am thankful that Jeb Bush will be a memory in a little more than a year. And I am thankful that we may, just may, have a chance to send an adult to Tallahassee next November. I have no hesitation whatsoever in saying that Rod Smith or Jim Davis on their worst days will make me prouder to be a Floridian than Jeb Bush ever did.