Gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich continues to amass impressive grassroots support, which included nabbing this past week the endorsement of NOW. Senator Rich has been barnstorming the state for the better part of a year now and while she has faced obstacles from some party elders, her support continues to grow on a weekly basis. Many Florida progressives having seen the disastrous results of nominating self-proclaimed moderates who are wish-washy on issues have rallied to her cause.
Yet for whatever reason, The Florida Squeeze has learned that the state party has denied Senator Rich’s request to speak at the June 15th Jefferson-Jackson dinner. The FDP’s fallback position appears to be that the speakers are set for the dinner and that previous Jefferson-Jackson dinners have run too long. While the later is true, that has never stopped the party previously from having multiple speakers and I do not recall in my history of involvement of the party an announced Gubernatorial candidate, who is a former legislative leader with large scale support being denied the ability to speak at the dinner.
In 2002, the party dispensed with the “dinner” portion of the J-J and marketed the event as a “show.” partly to allow all of the candidates and potential candidates to speak. In 1997, 2001, and 2005 all announced Gubernatorial candidates who had legislative experience were given the opportunity to speak.
As every off-year election this millennium has demonstrated a direct correlation exists between enthusiasm in each party’s base and electoral results. This reality has proven disastrous for Florida Democrats in past cycles and despite Rick Scott’s overall weakness, the party very well could blow this election if it continues down its current course.
The current course seems to be to encourage potential candidates whose connection with the party base is tenuous while ignoring the only announced candidate in Senator Rich who is connecting with activists and local Democratic officials throughout the state. The continued uncertainty around other candidates in the race has not stopped Senator Rich from coalescing more and more grassroots support.
The state party appears to be completely out of touch with the sentiments of grassroots activists and local party officials. This is another potentially disastrous decision from a party whose relationship with those who walk precincts, make phone calls and devote just about all of the free time in their busy lives to electing good progressive Democrats to office continues to sour.