As we first reported over a week ago, the Florida Democratic Party has taken a bizarre and frankly indefensible decision to deny the only announced Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich the opportunity to speak. In recent days, the RPOF and its Chairman Lenny Curry has seized on this issue using it as just another issue to hit the Democrats with. Curry has created a twitter hashtag #freenanrich and encouraged Democrats to tweet at FDP Chairwoman Allison Tant to reverse her decision (if it was in fact her decision.)
Curry does sit in a position of credibility to asses this situation. The Republicans have typically allowed candidates of all stripes to speak at their annual Lincoln Day Dinner and have to my recollection never snubbed a recent legislative leader, even ex-Speaker Johnnie Byrd who ran for the US Senate in 2004 as a far more marginal candidate than Rich is and whose Speakership was characterized by divisions within the GOP largely caused by Byrd himself. Yet the Florida GOP while smartly undercutting his candidacy in subtle ways never overtly snubbed him.
The decision by the Florida Democratic Party is curious and without reasonable reasonable explanation. Chairwoman Tant has told both Senator Rich and Broward County Democratic State Committeewoman Maggie Davidson that she was concerned about the length of the J-J dinner and thus denied the speaking request.
Other theories floating around are that Tant does not want to let Rich speak because she is worried about Charlie Crist asking to speak at the dinner while an opposite train thought is also prevailing that Tant may be preventing Rich from speaking to protect Charlie Crist who has yet to announce for Governor. Another theory floating around is that Tant has not actually made the decision but party staffers loyal to Crist have, and that while Tant would like to over rule them she is powerless to do so. Yet another line of speculation states that the FDP wants to continue to focus on Rick Scott specifically and his record rather than promote any Democratic candidate for Governor.
Whatever the real reason for the snub, it is truly unacceptable that a major political party behave in such a manner. Ultimately, with the furor that has build up the party will be forced to back down, or so anyone interested fairness and openness would hope. It is also an unprecedented decision in the recent annals of Florida politics which is why it is garnering so much outrage from people across the political spectrum.