In the governor’s race, where are some Florida progressives?

With the Florida Democratic Primary for Governor only a few months away, many prominent progressives have been quiet regarding the primary. While many Democrats have different reasons for getting involved in the primary process, some who would naturally be supporting a progressive candidate and not a long-time Republican officeholder have been strangely silent.

Democrats have two major candidates running for Governor: Charlie Crist is a former Republican who legislated on a center-right platform during his time in the Florida Senate and served from a similar posture as Commissioner of Education, Attorney General and Governor. Nan Rich, on the other hand, has been a strong progressive on most of the issues. As far as the historical context of their voting records and issue positions, there is a stark contrast between the two candidates.

So why are some prominent progressives staying quiet in this race? Those who have led grassroots progressive movements over the last few years have yet to make their intentions known in this critical contest. Why is this the case?


Let’s take a look at Ruth’s List, a group that supports pro-choice Democratic women in Florida. Again, the organization has not made any endorsement in this race. This is odd considering that former Florida Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich is a progressive, Democratic, pro-choice woman. Usually this criteria would mean an automatic endorsement by Ruth’s List, especially when running against a center-right, former Republican male who claimed he was pro-life as a Republican. But in this case, it does not seem to be good enough.

Emily’s List a national organization that supports Pro-Choice Democratic women. They were in the forefront with Betty Castor and Alex Sink in previous statewide elections here in Florida. However, in this race they are conspicuously absent.

Of course, there are some progressives who have voiced their strong support for Nan Rich. Susan Smith, of the Democratic Progressive Caucus, has been true to her roots and supports Senator Rich. Also, The National Organization for Women (NOW), Florida NOW and the non-partisan National Women’s Political Caucus of Florida have all endorsed Nan Rich enthusiastically. This makes the lack of a Ruth’s List or Emily’s List endorsement even more puzzling. In feminist circles some discussion is abound that the absence of support for Senator Rich by Ruth’s List is marginalizing the organization from the women’s activist community.

It is not like Nan Rich has failed to garner significant institutional support either. Former Governor Buddy MacKay has endorsed Senator Rich, as has as Senator Dwight Bullard, Senator Arthenia Joyner, Representative Katie Edwards and Palm Beach Tax Collector Anne Gannon among others. With these high-profile endorsements, it is even more puzzling why some progressives have not made an endorsement in this race.

Some progressives may believe that Crist is an acceptable choice for Governor. But Nan Rich is without question more progressive. Not only was she progressive in the Florida Senate, but many times one of the most (if not the most) progressive members of the Florida Legislature. Even many die-hard Crist supporters agree that Nan Rich is more progressive than their choice. So, are those so-called progressives who haven’t endorsed Nan Rich really progressives, or are they just looking for a candidate that can win, even if they have a conservative voting record? Are they secretly supporting Crist, but cannot claim this support because it will hurt their legitimacy as progressive activists? One must wonder if selling out on values is the best way to promote progressive activism.

One interesting thing about many of those so-called progressives is that they have one common link — Christopher Findlater. Many of you might remember this name from the FDP Chair’s race as the person who has pumped money into Florida politics over the last few years. To date, he has funneled $3.57 million into these activities through a number of strategically placed organizations. Some of the benefactors of Mr. Findlater’s money include Florida Watch Action (an organization in which he was highly involved and a founder) and Ruth’s List (giving the organization, which was struggling at the time, $47,000 in one of his first contributions in the state).

The next several weeks will be interesting to see whether more progressives join with Senator Rich’s campaign, or whether they continues to sit on the sidelines in this primary.



  1. I support Nan Rich in the primary.


    1. Me too! Voting for Nan. And I will continue to stay away from Emily’s List AND Ruth’s List. What is so hard about endorsing a fantastic progressive female senator for Gov, who has carried our water bucket for so long?

      Progressive fundraisers are silent because they know they are not in lockstep with the republican arm, of the Florida Democratic Party.


  2. The hands of the FDP and DNC are also all over this. Women on the Move had an excellent posts ( and detailing the situation with Emily’s List, the Party and donors. I don’t have any concrete info on Ruth’s List but suspect it is the same. I and several other progressive women I know stopped giving to Emily’s List long ago because of these kind of shenanigans, and I have told Ruth’s List that I will not give one dime until they follow their own principles and support the progressive woman in this race.


    1. Ruth’s List IS the same. Did you know that Ellis Robinson would not even invite Kathleen Ford to her office opening in ST Pete with all of the other female candidates running in 2013?
      A little “cupcake” party”? When I personally asked her, being the recipient of a growing invitation she posted daily to me, said she would be “reaching out” to Kathleen Ford. She never did.

      This was not about an endorsement. This was just an opening to an office, that Ellis hoped to continuously raise money for, in town. It was nasty, as Ford is a former office holder, lawyer, contributor, progressive, with a following all of her own. How stupid! Then participated in a nasty email with Sink, that got into the wrong hands, posted on Adam Smith’s blog! This is not leadership.

      So you see, Ruth’s List is the same. Now, with more of this behavior in the Dem party being exposed, I don’t see the money flowing to her little office.


  3. David Lutrin · ·

    Most Florida politicians and organizations are doing what they do best, playing politics. They don’t think that Nan can win, even though she is the better candidate, and they don’t want to piss Charlie off when he wins. They will just sit this one out until after the the primary and support the Democratic winner. Meanwhile, they speak political double-talk and let a great progressive candidate hang out to dry. Shame on Emily’s List and Ruth’s List. Politicians will always do what’s best for themselves.


    1. Gee, all the party has to do is their job….promote her views and her record. Oh, and allow her to speak once in a while.


      1. Dems in Action · ·

        The FDP was supporting Crist for Governor at the President’s Inauguration. It was so blatant that many progressives that were there were absolutely appalled. The FDP has violated their own bylaws but expect us to follow them. I’m voting for Nan Rich and I will work right up to Aug 26th. This party is shameful. We need to start over with real Democrats who live by Democratic values.


  4. Dems in 14 · ·

    The dupes stupid Enough to back Nan Rich yet call themselves Democrats are going to be held responsible if Rick Scott wins November.

    All of the election functions that are going to be so critical are being suspended month after month while this primary goes on. The Republicans can just tee off and Chipaway at Charlie Crist popularity while he can do nothing because of the stupid primary which is backed by want to be Republicans.

    True progressives are backing Charlie Crist of the effort to oust Rick Scott.


    1. So you think people should sacrifice their principals?

      I think you lack a fundamental understanding of why progressives are for Rich. Many feel that Christ will be the same as Scott. Therefore, they don’t care if they are “responsible” as the end result will be the same. The goal is not to “have our team win”, but to provide real change.

      I also think you lack the understanding between the terms partisanship and ideology. Many of us, interestingly enough, vote on issues and not partisan identification. This is the reason why many progressives will vote for and support Bernie Sanders, even if he runs as an independent. We want to make sure that kids have a good education, workers are protected, and government spending goes to those who truly need help, and not multinational corporations.

      On the other hand, you just want to notch a “win” on your belt, regardless of issues. Yes, you might be a Democrat, but you are not a progressive, as you are willing to sellout for a win that will not produce a progressive agenda.


    2. Dems in Action · ·

      I will not sell my soul to the devil.


    3. David Lutrin · ·

      Do you mean DINOs in 14?


    4. Patti Lynn · ·

      Hide behind anonymity, “Dems 14”. DEMOCRATS do NOT compromise on principles. I support NAN RICH…who has supported Democratic values yesterday, today, and will, tomorrow, too. Charlie Crist continues to show that his most important ideal is Charlie Crist.


  5. The silence is deafening from some progressive groups.

    I suppose they will all claim Charlie Crist is now a progressive himself and is the better choice?


  6. Realist · ·

    Crist isn’t a progressive a conservative or a moderate. He’s a flip flopper.

    Kartik’s article the other day about body language and confidence was on point. I’ve watched CharLIE for years and when he would lie in the past he would sell it so well.

    Now it’s just one lie after another with a look of despondency. Not good fir a candidate running into a rough campaign.


  7. I want all of those backing CC so openly and enthusiastically to think about something realistically from a distorted perspective.

    What does it say about political party that will not back its own people when they want to run for higher office but has now on four occasions in recent years try to grab someone from the other party to run???

    Where is the loyalty and is this a party worth backing?

    The current incarnation of the Florida Democratic Party is the biggest joke party going. As this website has pointed out on repeated occasions this party has the worst record of any major political party yet they continue to compound their mistakes digging deeper into a hole that they will likely never get out of.


  8. Hey Kartik where are your self-proclaimed most progressive people in the state buddies?

    You know Scott and Susannah Randolph? Amy Ritter? All the little kids that follow them around?

    You act in this piece that you do not know who they are backing. They are backing a candidate in this race and I will tell you is not Nan Rich.

    Here in Central Florida everybody knows who they are backing. The most progressive person in the legislature we were told who screamed UTERUS on the floor a Charlie Crist backer. The Governor he previously mocked.

    And when they have problems with local progressives in the future they will whine like babies sing silly songs about us like school kids and really wonder why?


    1. I hear ya! Trust me, I wanted people to know this as well!


  9. Go Charlie Go! · ·

    This article doesn’t deserve eyeballs or comments.

    All I will say is a vote or endorsement of Rich is a vote or endorsement of Scott.


    1. Finally. I was beginning to wonder what happened to Charlie’s spin doctors.LOL


      1. Broward Bob · ·

        Your paranoia is treatable. The black helicopters you are seeing could be real, though.


  10. Tallahassee Dem · ·

    If you look Ruth’s List did manage to give Nan Rich $2500 for her campaign. Yet she is conspicuously absent from her candidates pages. Getting Kristin Jacobs, a progressive woman running against a progressive man, is more important than Nan Rich’s campaign?

    It used to be Ellis Robinson making a fortune off this little group. Now she is paying herself $7500 a month and a ton of other consultants. What a joke.

    Tell me more about the National Women’s Political Caucus please. Why haven’t I heard of them?


    1. You nailed it on the head when you said “she is conspicuously absent from HER candidates page”! Ruth’s List it nothing but a “Committee of One”, with Ellis Robinson being the only kingmaker! By using the name “Ruth’s List”, people think it is some sort of “organization”, but it is nothing but Ellis Robinson trying to wield her power in Democratic politics. And, honestly, if you go to one of her “training” events, she doesn’t even know how campaigns work. Yes, maybe she helps with the “basics” of campaigning, which any campaign manager or consultant knows, but this is nothing more than using Lawrence Grey’s book titled “How to Win Local Elections”. Unfortunately, people are suckers enough to take the bait!

      But Ruth’s List is just one part of a larger group that controls the FDP and continues to make money without results.


  11. Pink Slip Rick???

    Whatever happened to them!

    Maybe when they realized Charlie was going to be our guy they all left the state! I would if I were them!!!!!

    As for Ruth’s List the contribution is meaningless. The organization is not promoting the potential first female governor!

    As for Emily’s List they are total tools.


    1. We have to know our past · ·

      Janet Reno? Others before her?


  12. OBT Jane · ·

    Hey Kartik!!!!!

    I think you want to know that Scott and Susannah Randolph are backing Charlie Crist very openly.

    They have not made a formal endorsement but they are running around at Crist events.

    They have not done the same thing for Nan Rich.

    Given your own personal alliance with the Randolph’s do you not think it is a little strange that you have not called them out here???

    they dug in deep with that pink slip thing and now have decided to take the path of least resistance.

    It is also important to note they are close allies of the chairwoman Alison Tant who is in the tank for Crist.

    When Scott Randolph was running for chair of the FDP he promised progressive leadership. This is the sort of leadership he has delivered. Supporting a party switching conservative Republican we want strongly opposed in the legislature to be the next governor.

    The findlater money you discuss in this article makes sense. But it isn’t only affecting Ruth’s List it is affecting all the people who were involved with the various cottage industries that was started by the FDP and her allies.

    In due time the truth will come out. It is also worth noting that not a single vote has been cast of the Democratic primary yet. Charlie Crist can act like he’s running in a general election and try and stop on any dissent in the Democratic Party but he has not been nominated yet and he is quickly turning off activists for November.

    Add to that the incompetence of the Democratic Party and the hypocrisy of people like Randolph and you see why we are in such a bad position.

    You have a lot of integrity and I would expect you to call out the Randolph’s appropriately between now and the primary


    1. I don’t know who the Randolph’s back as I am not as closely aligned with them as you claim but we’ll investigate further for sure. Thanks.


  13. Money is the ruler here…..common sense and critical thinking is overshadowed….. unfortunately, so is ethics and integrity…..Oligarchs and the Lobbyist own Washington….
    No surprise regarding Emily’s and Ruth’s List…..during a workshops with Emily’s list, it was
    expressed in no uncertain terms that raising money was the key to getting elected…..with the embarrassment of Scott as the least liked and worst governor (70 Million of his own money) the Democratic Party is backing Crist because they believe he is the one that
    can win…..

    It would be great if the people voted their best interest or were informed, but most vote with
    emotion and what they think helps their pocket book issues.

    The ONE party system is alive and well!

    It’s understandable why Bernie Sanders is mentioned as a viable candidate for the 2016 Presidential run.


    1. What is interesting is that money is the ONLY criteria for winning over Ruth’s and Emily’s List endorsement. When I was at their “training” in 2012, the way a candidate would receive endorsements and financial support from these organizations was if you hit a certain monetary threshold. I don’t remember what those numbers were, but Ellis had them on a list. If you raised, let’s say, $50,000, then you get a Ruth’s List endorsement and check for the maximum amount (at that time $500). If you had a higher amount, then you could get support from Emily’s List. In fact, I think that Ruth’s List had to “recommend” you to Emily’s List.


  14. OBT Jane · ·

    And Val Demmings dropping out doesn’t help matters. Don’t think she doesn’t see how dysfunctional the party has become under the Randolph realizing she didn’t have the unified party support she should have. Sure everyone wad backing her but the infighting caused by the ambition of certain people has destroyed the unity of the party.


    1. I would be interested in finding out more about this situation.


  15. You guys can lament all you want about who is supporting who but the bottom line is Charlie Crist is going to be the nominee and those who were supporting Rich are marginalizing themselves and helping Rick Scott at the same time.

    It goes without saying that once you have been in politics for a while you get more pragmatic and practical. You can attack some of these folks for what they’re doing but they need to keep their influence. They don’t keep their influence by lobbing grenades into the party. They maintain influence by becoming team players and at times holding their noses while they do things.

    I get that this blog always wants to be the progressive voice but you folks must understand the practical realities. I’ve observed some more pragmatic writing from this website in recent months but this article is just garbage. Total garbage


    1. DINO Slayer · ·

      And look where that pragmatism has gotten the Party. A state dominated by Republicans & a party so pathetic that it can’t manage to rally it’s own base. I do not understand why the donors continue to kow tow to to them.


    2. Trust me, Rhett, Kartik and I have been in politics for a long time!


    3. Also, Rhett, this isn’t about “influence”. Not everyone lives in the Tallahassee bubble. Those who support Nan Rich are regular everyday voters who want progressive change in the state. They aren’t part of any DEC, much less part of the FDP apparatus. When I voted for certain candidates in the past (as well as supported them), I didn’t pick “who would win”, but who was the best.

      Like Dems 14 above, I think you do not understand the fundamental differences between political party identification and ideology. People support Rich because they agree with her on ideology, and party identification is secondary. They see a Crist victory the same as a Scott victory (and they have ample evidence to back this claim). Therefore, it is not logical for them to vote for Crist in the primary, or turnout to vote at all in the general if Crist is nominated, because the cost outweighs the benefit. There are no benefits for those who vote on ideology with a Crist administration. If they think Crist and Scott are the same (which they essentially are), then why vote?

      I highly recommend that you read Anthony Downs book on economic voting, where he also explains rationality in vote choice in what is called the Paradox of Voting, or Downs Paradox. I would also recommend reading The American Voter by Campbell et al., which will show how party identification is shaped (though later authors such as Miller and Shanks argue the opposite when looking at the Funnel of Causality, but both have valid points). I think you lack the knowledge regarding this subject, and these books should help you move in the right direction.


  16. Yellow Dog Democrat · ·

    Dear Florida Squeeze, I can appreciate your and Susan Smith’s Progressive Caucus’s last ditch last gasp effort to try and prop up Nan Rich dying campaign from irrelevancy…but unfortunately it’s over for Nan and her race for Governor and it’s time that she and you wake up and realize that, weather you like it or not, former Gov Charlie Crist who is creaming Nan in the polls and especially in the all important fundraising department, will be the Democratic Nominee for Governor against Rick Scott.

    I am a progressive at heart as well, but having been at this game for many many decades I realize that most voters who swing elections are middle of the road moderates and I have to side with them this time because like the vast majority of Democrats in Florida dominated by Republicans, I’m sick and tired of loosing the Governor’s race for the 20th straight year with ultra liberal progressive Democrats who can’t win a statewide race.

    Nan is a good person with a heart in the right place but it’s over for her and her campaign…and Democrats need a win…badly!!

    There are some bigger name long time progressive Democrats like former Senator and Governor Bob Graham and Sens Dan Gelber and Joe Geller and party leaders like Mitch Cesar among many others from Nan’s home area who like me want a win too and are supporting Charlie Crist.

    The ultra progressives like Susan Smith have already stated for the record that if Nan looses they are staying home on Election Day. Well we know the result of that is that they and any other progressive who follows Susan and sits home is re-electing the worst Governor in Florida History in Rick Scott.

    Every politician changes his or her mind on issues and Nan is no better. A perfect example is on the issue of Cuba where Nan has struggled, but Charlie Crist has come around to do the right thing and call for dropping the 50 year old trade and travel embargo.

    And Charlie has moved to many progressive positions on Choice and LBGT marriage as well.

    So do you want to loose….AGAIN…with Nan or do you you want to fight for having a Democrat as Governor even if it’s Charlie Crist.

    That’s your choice..


    1. Yellow Dog, The more you dismiss Nan and her legion of activists the more you piss us off. Keep repeating your stupid talking points and you will eat those words. The people you mentioned as progressives are all sell outs and no one i know would ever call them progressives. How dare you say Bob Graham is supporting Charlie . I dare you to say that to his face. If you want to support Charlie go ahead but lying behind an alias doesn’t say very much for you.. You better come up with a new name because you have no credibility.


      1. Broward Bob · ·

        He or she has a thousand times more credibility than you EVER will, as do all the many smart people who support Charlie. And NONE of us are getting paid, so that’s another of your repetitive lies you can stop telling.


    2. Susan Smith · ·

      I have not said I would stay home. I have said that the more Crist supporters pre-blame progressives for a possible Crist loss, the more they are depressing turnout.

      You said, “most voters who swing elections are middle of the road moderates.” I suggest you read Thomas Frank.
      Even more alarming for Democrats were the stark implications of “Kansas” for their grand strategy of “centrism.” As I tried to make plain back in 2004, the big political change of the last 40 years didn’t happen solely because conservatives invented catchy conspiracy theories, but also because Democrats let it happen. Democrats essentially did nothing while their pals in organized labor were clubbed to the ground; they leaped enthusiastically into action, however, when it was time to pass NAFTA and repeal Glass-Steagall. Working-class voters had nowhere else to go, they seem to have calculated, and — whoops! — they were wrong. The Kansas story represented all their decades of moderating and capitulating and triangulating coming back to haunt them.

      BTW, a win for Crist is not a win for Democrats. It will do nothing to further our message or our agenda. It will only muddle who we are in the minds of voters. Even Crist supporters admit that they’re only voting for him because he’s not as bad as Rick Scott.


  17. Jessica · ·

    Hey yellow dog we did it your way for years and keep losing! McBride, Davis, Sink all Tampa Bay Area mushy moderates who didn’t connect with voters and lost.

    Time to try something new.


  18. Torrie · ·

    Who cares. The Randolphs and Ellis are #irrelevant


  19. Do not blame people like me for Crist if he loses in November. I bought into all the talk earlier that he had changed and even left some of the postings of comments on this site that he was a new man and was a populist. At the time despite my qualms about the worthless Democratic Party in this state picking essentially a winner and a loser I thought and Nan Rich should drop out of the race.

    I do not feel that way any more. Let me explain why.

    Over the course of the last several months Gov. Crist has had countless opportunities to show why he had become a Democrat and demonstrate his leadership in his new party. He was moved to the head of the line in our party without any proper vetting process and has been given the opportunity to lead us.

    Instead we get neutral statements, theatrics and the discomfort on the stump which this site talked about the other day. We also have gotten continued praise for Jeb Bush. He hasn’t taken leadership on any issue he did not weigh in on any number of issues affecting the legislative session and simply seems to believe that he is entitled to be our nominee. He is acting like an entitled politician not a “people’s governor” as he claimed.

    Believed all responsible Democrats should tell the former governor thank you for joining our party now wait your turn and run in 2016 or 20. I really think he’s blown it.

    Is it too late for someone else to run? I am not wild about Nan Rich being the nominee and wish we had someone else. Dyer, Iorio, Gelber, Buckhorn someone else. I suppose voting for Nan Rich is not the worst thing in the world, but she is a bad candidate. Preferable to Crist though. At least she is a Democrat willing to work hard.


  20. I will be voting for Nan Rich! I am a true Nan Fan, and I’ll be spreading the word and organizing events in Hillsborough county until the day of the election. We have 98 days until the primary. Nan is going to prove these “democrat” fat cats that the people matter, not corporations. Florida has elected MANY Democrat governors, and guess what? They were underdogs in the primary who ran a grassroots campaign. People are going to be surprised. Women are gonna vote like never before!!!


%d bloggers like this: