Monday Musings – DCCC mess, Kelli Stargel’s maternalistic nonsense, RPOF failure to steward our Springs, Lenny Curry, Vouchers

Editors’ Note: This week we begin a new column, Monday Musings where our writers sound off on various topics related to the state of Florida. 


It is difficult in words to fully describe the mess the DCCC has made in Congressional District 13. Beginning with a campaign that flushed a double-digit lead down the drain in March’s Special Election to this past week’s candidate recruitment debacle, the party has turned a seat that was considered by many experts one of the ten best pickup opportunities nationally into a running a joke.  One caveat: The DCCC’s decision to push Rev. Manuel Sykes out of the race I am told by multiple sources was based on a local assessment by Pinellas County party leaders. That leaves the Democrats in the position of not having a name on the ballot but pushing instead with national party money and support for an NPA in Ed Jany. On paper Jany appears a decent candidate who will undoubtedly caucus with the Democrats if he wins, but in this growing age of partisan voting, educating in mass that a vote for an NPA is a vote for a Democrat will take an incredible amount of money. Considering Charlie Crist is the likely Democratic nominee for Governor and this is his home area, the debacle of last week can be chalked up as yet another humiliating episode for a party which never ceases to amaze with disconcerting blunders and gaffes.  – KK @kkfla737

Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) recently said, apropos of SB 1714 (the microbrewery-hampering bill on which she carried water for cartel-esque beer distributors who also happened to be major contributors), that she felt like a parent when managing the bill’s progress. Florida’s vibrant small craft beer industry includes Cigar City Brewery, Tampa Bay Brewing Company, St. Somewhere, and dozens of other fledgling small businesses who add an interesting wrinkle to Florida culture. Essentially the bill would force these breweries to pay a distribution middle man 30-40% to sell their own beer back to themselves in order to sell their beers retail for any sales above her mandated 2,000 keg quota.

In the face of eminently reasonable opposition coming from these quarters, Sen. Stargel advises us “I’m sorry, I know my kids don’t believe it when I tell them they can’t do something, but sometimes I know it is what’s best.” Her line of argument, such as it is, brings us in mind of George Lakoff’s argument in his 1996 masterpiece Moral Politicsa great deal of the conservative-liberal divide can be thought of as a battle between disciplinarian versus nourishing parental styles. Thanks, Sen. Stargel, for reminding us that momma knows best. – RR @ryanrayryanray

Whiffing on what could’ve been a win-win for Floridian’s precious water sources and Florida’s pernicious executive drip, the Florida House failed to take up the laudable restoration-mandate SB 1576 this session. It’s not a surprise to see the brash youngsters of the Florida House sneer at legislation that passed 38-0, was backed by five Republican committee chairmen, a legislative priority for incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner (and by extension the current Senate President), and is uniformly supported and demanded by Floridians who routinely interact with and are supported by 11,000 miles of rivers, streams and waterways.

Despite Senate Appropriations Chair Joe Negron siphoning off a sizable chunk of funding for his district near the Indian River Lagoon, there are some 699 Florida springs that failed to receive restoration funding of any substantial amount. So we wait for November and Amendment One — the ballot initiative that will dedicate $350 million of reoccurring funding drawn from document taxes — for a comprehensive and desperately needed restoration effort of the largest convergence of freshwater springs on the globe. -NTP @nt_pemberton


RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry’s decision to run for Mayor of Jacksonville will provide a test for local Republicans. Mayor Alvin Brown’s 2011 victory was surprising and while Brown doesn’t elicit much emotional support from the growing group of activist progressives particularly around the Riverside area of town he will have a strong base with which to run for reelection from. I have seen Jacksonville change rapidly from conservative business oriented Democratic in the 1980s to racially partisan polarization in the 1990s to more mainstream Republican dominance in the 2000s. In the 2010s though it seems the city is changing once again, moving ever so slightly to the left and perhaps Curry, a devoutly partisan figure isn’t the right person to run in this climate. – KK @kkfla737


The subject of Step up for Students and associated organizations and money spent on political campaigns in Florida was once again a huge topic of conversation late last week as the expansion of school voucher program overcame seemingly long odds and passed the legislature. We’ve written close to a dozen articles on this website in the last 14 months covering this specific topic but the allegations and arm twisting continues to grow. We will be following this story closely all summer as election season approaches.  – KK @kkfla737



  1. Terri · ·

    The Democrats didn’t do a thing to try and push springs protection either.

    One of the most disappointing aspects if this session is how disengaged the FDP was on issues and pushing progressive policy during the 60 days.

    Springs, women’s issues, vouchers, guns, whatever else all fell by the wayside in official FDP communications.

    What does the party staff spend its days doing I must ask sincerely?


    1. Jeff Lewis · ·

      During the 2012 session when Rod Smith was the chair the FDP press office was all over the legislature.

      This session they would react late to things or not react at all. As for bring proactive it never happened.

      During session it was better to read Peter Scorsch, The Florida Current, Kartik Krishnaiyer, Progress Florida blasts and Susan Smith’s Facebook page than anything the party did.

      Not saying that is bad but simply saying that is how it is.


    2. Dems in 14 · ·

      You need to follow @FlaDems on twitter.

      If you do you will see how effective the party staff is in framing the message.

      Also follow the individual members of the staff who are tweeting about the issues.


      1. On twitter? What about press releases? What about rallying the grassroots of the state? What about actually keeping the party website updated properly? What does it fall to other people including this blog and others to carry the party’s water so to speak, no pun intended on issues during session?


      2. Twitter is just one component of what needs to be a larger communications strategy, I am pleased that the FDP takes Twitter so seriously, but they need to be more proactive on lots more from a PR/messaging standpoint as well.


    3. Florida Voter · ·

      This is what happens when you hire kids with no real world experience as political favors or simply because they come cheap.

      The party’s media relations effort is almost entirely non-existent other than pushing out negative stories about other Democrats.

      They rely almost exclusively on Twitter and Facebook to push out the messaging about the GOP.

      The relationship with the actual members of the media and doing traditional things in the world of PR seem to be totally lost on this group.


  2. Bradley · ·

    Negron was getting KILLED at home on the Indian River Lagoon.

    He either funneled money that way or faced a horrible summer.

    Even republicans were getting antsy in the area. The issue is dominating local politics.


  3. Dems in 14 · ·

    Regarding the Jolly race Kartik, we got a strong candidate. He has a great shot of winning. You can take shots now but in time this will look like a coup for our party, brining in a decorated veteran who got fed up with the GOP.

    This ballot law is another sham thanks to the legislature. In any other state Jany would be able to run as a Democrat now.


    1. Jany is an NPA.


      1. Terri, Jany is a registered Democrat but because of the desire of the GOP to subvert the ability of people to run on the ballot line of their choice they changed the law a few years ago so he cannot run as a Demo. This happened to Nancy Argenziano last cycle. The law makes NO sense. I could publish a LONG list of Republican legislators and former legislators who were Democrats and opted to switch registration when they decided to run for office. For years in this state the majority of party switching that occurred did so between Ds going to R. When that trend changed, the law changed since major (but not all) elements of the GOP are simply committed to continuing a partisan stranglehold on state government.

        This all having been said, the Democrats ineptitude at messaging and candidate recruitment contributes as much to this as Republicans rigging laws to the party’s benefit.


    2. Florida Voter · ·

      No shot of winning as an NPA. Sorry. Ask Charlie Crist how that goes.


    3. What a sham. Republicans vs. Republicans. The only way to save the Democratic Party in Florida is to support Nan Rich and show the voters they have a real choice. If not, this state is heading towards the worst Democratic voter turnout in history.


  4. Awesome new feature!!!!!


  5. Long time reader, first time poster.

    The beer wholesalers thing is the worst type of corporate power grab around.

    I wish you had written about it before, This is a great site but I expected this issue to be highlighted during the session!

    This is everything that is wrong with the legislature.

    Truly disgusting Stargel is! She is one of the worst members I can remember in years.


  6. Beat Rick Scott · ·

    Even as a partisan I have to admit the Pinellas DEC totally messed up and the FDP press release sent out Friday was laughable. Lots if complaints here about the FDP and press but when they do issue a release they still cannot do it correctly…hmmm…makes you wonder doesn’t it?


  7. The party press shop does nothing but troll people on twitter. This includes trolling reporters.

    I am sorry but that is simply not the job of a communications staff. The basics of the job they not only do not do well, they simply do not do them.


  8. […] led off last week’s column talking about the debacle in Pinellas County RE: CD-13. The hope was this situation would have subsided by now. However,  the opposite has occurred as […]


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