Is it time to worry about Charlie Crist poll numbers? No, if Democrats acknowledge 2014 is about turnout

With buzz around the state focusing on Governor Charlie Crist’s “sinking” poll numbers and a supposed Rick Scott “surge,” we once again hear from different quarters that Crist and the Democratic ticket need to replicate the Alex Sink playbook and chase mythical swing voters. Many Democratic voters have been sold on the need to nominate Crist because he can win, and that the Senator Nan Rich was “unelectable.”  While Nan Rich has proven to be unelectable because of the type of campaign she has run, her ideology and strong advocacy on issues had nothing to do with her failure to coalesce more support in advance of Tuesday’s primary.

Barring something resembling the apocalypse, Crist will be nominated on Tuesday by Florida Democrats. Then on Wednesday we will be subjected to analysis that Crist needs to run to the middle and that he is currently positioned “out of the mainstream.” Some will claim Crist’s views on economic issues, the insurance industry and the environment are “not where Floridians are” and that he needs to stop running as an economic populist. Many who float these theories will in fact be Democrats. Some of them will be paid consultants to campaigns. They are almost universally wrong in the way they are thinking about the 2014 campaign.

Moderate people do exist. I myself have many moderate positions on the issues. But voters tend to cast ballot not based on an average of where a candidate sits on ten issues, but on one or two issues that matter the most to them. On these issues, voters are either conservatives or progressives. Those who turn out especially in lower turnout elections do so not because they seek good or consensus-oriented government, but because they care deeply about one or two issues.

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Thursday Bookshelf: Wealth and Democracy – A Political History of the American Rich

In our continuing reviews of books by former Republican Strategist turned radical Independent thinker and pundit Kevin Phillips, today we look at Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich which was written during George W. Bush’s first term but is still very pertinent today.

The long narrative about the impact of money on American Democracy is disturbing in many ways. The book paints a clear picture of a government run and maintained by elites to serve elites. Phillips argues that much of the accumulation of wealth in American society in the hands of the few is due to “power and preferment of government.”

As has been argued on the pages of this website since our inception, capitalism and the free market are often code words used to quite the opposite to benefit the privileged class. Phillips argues strongly in this work taking into account themes of American Political History that “Laissez-faire is a pretense,” to accumulate wealth in a few hands and to create a financial services sector that rules the economy.

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Orange County voters have a chance to win for working families – The fight for Earned Sick Time goes on

Editors Note:  On August 26th Orange County voters will have the opportunity to vote YES on  ordinance that came via citizen initiative to guarantee earned sick time for employees of businesses in the county. The Florida Squeeze strongly endorses this initiative and we are fortunate to have this contribution from Stephanie Porta, the Executive Director of Organize Now and one of the leaders of the fight for working families in this state. 

We will have more on this and other grassroots efforts in Orange County in the coming days.

By Stephanie Porta
Did you know that the U.S. is the only major industrialized country without a minimum paid sick leave requirement? However, the policy has been enacted with great success in states and municipalities across the country. Connecticut and several large cities like New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Washington, D.C. have enacted their own Earned Sick Time policies with great success.

Florida, and especially Central Florida, needs Earned Sick Time badly. More than two in five working Floridians do not have Earned Sick Time. A disproportionate number of those workers are in low-wage service sector jobs that are prevalent in our tourism-based region. Without Earned Sick Time, families are forced to choose between going to work sick and staying home – losing a day’s wages and risking termination.

The lack of Earned Sick Time hits working women especially hard – because it is most often women who have the responsibility for caring for a sick child or other family member. Last year, a PPP Poll found that 80% of likely Florida voters support Earned Sick Time. Of women who were surveyed, 86% support Earned Sick Time.

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Poll: Do Charlie Crist’s Sinking Poll Numbers Worry You?

Three different polls have been released this week showing Governor Scott leading Governor Crist by a small margin. Today’s question is whether Governor Crist’s sagging poll numbers should be of concern to Democrats. This poll will close at Noon on Thursday August 21st.

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TFS Endorsements – Palm Beach and Broward Local Elections

Palm Beach School Board
District 3- Karen Brill
She has served with distinction and has earned another term.
District 4 – Erica Whitfield
Whitfield promises to be a strong progressive voice as a parent in PBC Public Schools.
Broward County Commission 
District 2- Lisa Kohner Aronson 
She has spent 30 years as a leader in the local community and has steered the city of Coconut Creek positively. Aronson has earned the right to serve in this particular district unlike her strongest opponents both of whom have resided elsewhere until recently.
NOTE: We do not know if these election results will be valid due to an administrative snafu on the part of Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. This race may appear on the November ballot as well.

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Monday Musings: Sally Guthrie Passes, Tampa Bay Times Crist Profile Raises Eyebrows, Who is Stafford Jones, and is Nan Rich Gaining Momentum?

The Gainesville Democratic community was saddened with the death of one of our own this weekend. A warrior until the end, Sally Guthrie passed away late Saturday evening after having a heart attack canvassing for our local Democratic congressional candidate Marihelen Wheeler. Many local DECs, especially those in the smaller counties, are held together by a few brave souls like Sally, who show up at every event, every phone bank, and every canvass to help out other Democrats. It is important to make sure that these volunteers are appreciated and given the proper respect that they deserve. In a busy election season, it is easy to overlook these foot soldiers, but we all depend on them to register voters, knock on doors, and get out the vote. So honor the volunteers! Flowers, cards, and candy are always appreciated, especially during these long last few weeks before election day. Spend a few hours in the next week on a local campaign and get to know these warriors. This tragedy shocked many of us, but it has also given us a renewed commitment and sense of community. Rest in peace, Sally, and we’ll carry on the fight.  –   KB@BurnettKaty 

The Tampa Bay Times is one of my favorite newspapers. The winner of ten Pulitzer prizes, the paper has established itself as one of the best in the English speaking world. One of the things The Times is known for is investigative journalism. Typically the paper is painstakingly objective when they investigate stories and public figures. However, last weekend’s story about Charlie Crist which continues to make the rounds politically has left a  bad taste in my mouth. It’s difficult to say this about a paper I genuinely love but the article to me was over the top. The well-researched and written piece was from where I sit excessively personal in nature. It raised multiple questions that have no relevance to the Governor’s race.  Why did The Times select Crist for such a thorough examination when they have not put the current Governor through the same sort of ringer? Perhaps it is because Crist is from St Petersburg? But The Times is not only a Pinellas County paper but is the paper of record statewide and one of the most trusted news sources nationally. I certainly hope that The Times will have a similar styled story about Governor Scott in the near future. But then again Governor Crist’s life is easier to investigate for a Florida-based publication since he actually grew up in this state unlike our current Governor. – KK @kkfla737

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TFS Endorsements – Leon and Orange Local Races

We have additional endorsements to make today. The following races are all non-partisan universal elections:


Tallahassee Mayor

Andrew Gillum

After over ten years on the commission, one of the stars of Florida’s Democratic Party (and a former FDP staffer) will make a great Mayor for the state’s capital.

Tallahassee City Commission

District 2 – Curtis Richardson

Former State Rep. Curtis Richardson was one of the leading lights on local School Board, and in the legislature during his eight years of service. Richardson was always caring, consciousesa, and accessible to his constituents. He was always a strong progressive voice that was passionate about children and eduction.


County Commission

District 2- Alvin Moore

Moore is by far the best choice in a district that needs a strong voice after years of neglect and politicization. His service on the Eatonville Town Council was exemplary as he worked hard to help revitalize the community.

District 4- Euri Cerrud

Active in the community for many years, he has been a leading activist lawyer. Cerrud has defended homeowners, taken on banks and donated his services Pro bono to many worthy causes.

School Board

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TFS Endorsements

In the next several days TFS will release additional endorsements for the August 26th election. We will be endorsing candidates for State Senate, State House, County Commission, School Board and City Commission statewide. We will also be issuing recommendations on ballot initiatives as well.

A full list of all of our endorsements can be found here. This list will be updated daily over the course of the next several days.


Legislative Races Need to be Given Higher Priority by Elected Officials and Local Parties

Coming off a special session where the Republicans Leadership once again showed arrogance and the contempt for the will of Florida’s citizens, the Democrats would have a unique chance to target vulnerable Republican lawmakers. But unfortunately due to the Florida Democratic Party’s emphasis on the Governor’s race legislative races and particularly House races have taken a back seat. Even more disappointing is the failure of local DECs in important parts of the state to work with the State House leadership to identify the types of candidates that could be successful in marginal districts.

The single-focus on the Governor’s race has hurt the legislative campaign committees with recruitment and perhaps fundraising also. The staff working on legislative races have done the best job they could to raise money and find candidates but it hasn’t been easy. When you are alone on an island politically it is difficult to be as successful in raising awareness as needed. In the Senate, all focus now is on protecting Maria Sachs, while the House is largely focused on protecting Democratic incumbents.

An acknowledgement that this will be a difficult year for Democrats in the Legislature is growing. The harsh reality of this 2014 cycle is that in many of the seats that the Democrats recruitment efforts never truly got out of the box effectively in a large number of the most winnable seats on the map.

The districts held by Reps. Santiago, Wood, Tobia, Spano, Pilon, Bileca, Rooney, Moratis and Raschein are all seats that are competitive and in the right circumstances winnable for Democrats. But for whatever reason despite the availability of data showing these seats as highly-competitive, the Democrats took a pass. In many cases the failure to identify viable candidates comes down to the poor local infrastructure including the lack of aggressive recruitment local Democratic elected officials.

The bottom line is that the party was not successful in recruiting candidates in many top and second tier races. Some of this failure rests squarely on local DECs and the unwillingness of sitting House members to work hard to find candidates in swing districts.  Of the dozen districts which are held by a Republican but Alex Sink and/or Barack Obama ran at 49% or higher at the top of the ticket only a handful have viable Democratic candidates.

Local DECs have a responsibility in swing districts to be working hard at finding House candidates. In 2012, the Orange County Democratic Party under Scott Randolph worked hard to find candidates in every marginal seat. This year, the Miami-Dade Party led by now Lieutenant Governor candidate Annette Taddeo did something similar through these late recruits are probably not going have the same level of success that the Orange County ones did in 2012. Nonetheless, these serve as positive examples of what local parties can accomplish.

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How Labor Will Determine the Leadership in the Senate

As we have discussed several times on this blog,  former Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff and sitting Senator Maria Sachs  are battling in the race to watch this election season. With the Republicans a single vote away from a veto-proof majority and only one other competitive race in the state, this race is important to every voter in Florida. With all eyes on Senate District 32, the announcements that unions have begun to endorse Bogdanoff is worrisome on a couple different levels and it warrants a closer look.

The importance of the Senate cannot be understated. Even though Republicans have a large majority, the members of the Senate are more experienced, more rational, and for the most part offer more grounded policy options than the Florida House. Many of Scott’s ideas have been at least moderated and a few times blocked in the Senate. Even the controversial voucher bill was

Democrats have long taken union support for granted. In the last decade, with unions slowly loosing power and influence and the party slowly trying to woo a larger piece of the corporate pie, the relationship has been slightly strained. Since the Democrats have been so weak in Florida Government, the unions have had to find moderate Republicans that support their issues. One of these has been Senator Jack Latvala, who has proven to be a strong ally of the unions though blocking pension reform. Senator Latvala has at times been one of the more moderate Republicans in the building, who fought to get the Dreamers in-state tuition last year, earning him conservative and tea party criticism. He is locked in a leadership battle for the Senate leadership for 2016-2018 in a bitter battle with Senator Joe Negron and there are contrasts between these two men.  Negron is considered less moderate than Latvala and is much more aligned with Governor Rick Scott’s agenda and is a strong ally of the current Senate President Don Geatz.

Unions know this and they realize that with an ally in charge, controversial items that might be on Scott’s second term agenda could be moderated, especially in terms of prison privatization and pension reform.   The opportunity to get Latvala as Senate President is one that they are willing to act on.  With only two competitive elections in the senate this year,
Latvala is pressuring the unions to support Bogdanoff because she will support his bid for leadership.  From the endorsement of Firefighters union, it seems to be working, even though her track record on AFL-CIO issues is extremely questionable. But the firefighters have long been psudeo-independent in terms of political endorsements, for example backing Jeb Bush twice for Governor.

With the Republican majority secure for the foreseeable future, unions have to play smart politics in order to protect their interests.  Many times, as demonstrated with the endorsement of Charlie Crist, it will come down to forgiving and forgetting and worrying about the future.  After the US Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, unions around the country realized they were far out gunned. While there has been much discussion about the diminishing power of the unions, they have very much decided to be pro-active.  Their field work ahead of the 2014 election is dwarfing the efforts of the Florida Democratic Party.  Dozens of paid organizers in each district, new programs with pre-emtive dialing tech in every area, and a slew of other advancements and policies are all being tested this year, including training organizers to campaign in the workplaces.  Not only are they stepping it up for 2014, they are actively training their members to run for office and have started a full-on candidate recruitment program. While many of these organizers cannot coordinate directly with campaigns, ‘Independent Expendenture’ budgets incredible this year, with millions budgeted around the state. This undoubtedly will help Crist in the general election, as they have already begun to pump money into his campaign.  Labor is one of Charlie Crist’s biggest hopes going into the general election.

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