The special election in House District 24 that has been created by a chain reaction related to John Thrasher’s selection as President of Florida State University should provide an opportunity to show how House Democrats can get their ship in order after a rough campaign cycle. We’ve defended the House Democratic campaign efforts on this site in 2014 essentially saying the six seat loss and new veto-proof GOP majority were largely a result of national trends, internal caucus divisions and bad luck. But now with a Special Election slated for April 7th in a district that only leans Republican, the Democrats have to make a strong and visible effort if faith is to be restored before the 2016 cycle really kicks off.
House District 24, a seat being vacated by Republican Travis Hutson is one of the nearly dozen seats we have talked about in the past where Democrats botched opportunities in 2012. That year, Milissa Holland, a well-respected and connected Flagler County Commissioner ran as the Democratic candidate and got virtually no assistance from the state party. She ended up running within 2,000 votes of Hutson and lost the district by fewer votes than President Obama did. Holland’s candidacy was one that was touted by many across the state soon after the 2012 reapportionment process was complete, yet a general lack of interest was paid to her by House Victory and the state party.
Yesterday, candidate qualifying closed in House District 24 and the Democratic candidate Adam Morely got a pass right to the April 7th election. Four Republicans qualified for the seat and will have a competitive primary. This race provides a unique opportunity for Democrats to put the bad taste of 2014 behind them. The big question is will House Democrats take advantage of this chance?
We have heard lots of excuses from Democrats across the state in the past when obvious potential openings and opportunities have been disregarded. I will freely admit that I do not know what type of candidate Morely is, but realize in a Special Election, especially in a seat the Democrats would have won in 2012 with some degree of effort, the opportunity is too great to pass up.
It will be very telling to see how exactly House Democrats play the HD-24 Special Election. Will they completely ignore it? Will they wait and see about the candidate? Will they wait and see if the Republicans nominate a wounded duck? Or will they simply go all-in and seize this chance?
Stay tuned over the next few months to find out the answer.