Guest Column: Why Democrats Must Keep an Open Mind about the 2016 US Senate Race

By Reesa Levy 

I am a democrat, bona fide and proud.  I vote democratic, knock on doors for democratic candidates, make hundreds of GOTV phone calls, and donate money to those democratic candidates I believe share both my ideals and concerns. I value my time and my work, therefore my expectation is that on those constantly decreasing times when we do succeed in getting Democrats into office, I will have a representative in government.

Unfortunately, this is currently not the case in Florida.  For those of us following the voting records of our elected officials, we consistently experience surprise and dismay at what we read.   Why would a Democrat vote for the continuation of Benghazi Hearings, a government funded Republican tool used to harass and discredit our best candidate for president?  Why would a Democrat vote to indite Lois Lerner because she chose to use her Fifth Amendment right when being viciously attacked by Republicans?  Why would any Democrat vote to weaken Dodd Frank, our hard earned legislation that protects us from banks and businesses?  Why would a Democrat vote to a three-week extension in funding Homeland Security, when both the party and the president understood the immediate severity of not passing this funding?  And how could any Democrat, from a state suffering from its own severe environmental problems, vote for the Keystone Pipeline?  What we do not need is another Joe Manchin type senator to represent Florida-what we do need is a true Democratic senator who shares our values and belief in the party platform and votes consistently to make it happen.

If we immediately jump in to support a person solely because they can raise big money or successfully pander to Republicans, then we are knowingly and willingly abdicating our vote.   We must question whether a candidate is more comfortable speaking in front of business leaders or is he or she equally at ease addressing income inequality.  Does our person have the clear understanding that big oil and its enormous appetite for profits is not a national security issue, but a selfish self-interest?  Where is the voice on common sense gun control laws and where is the leadership on this issue?  Is it possible to disagree with your party and vote with Republicans 23% of the time and still understand and represent Democrats?

As Democrats and as Florida Democratic Party members we need a fair choice in the primaries and we need to have our concerns voiced. We should listen to other candidates who have declared.  Let’s start by getting to know Pam Keith, a substantive candidate. Pam, an African-American woman, is a former JAG officer in the U.S. Navy and a seasoned attorney.  She speaks French and Spanish. She has a solid understanding of the issues and formidable public speaking skills.  Pam blends her skill as a trained advocate with the passion of a preacher and pitches her delivery perfectly to convey intelligence and zeal.  She can appeal to a broad range of voters, and has none of the baggage attributable to others considering a run.  Although, it remains to be seen if Pam Keith can parlay her substantial personal appeal into fundraising prowess and can create campaign machinery that will deliver on a statewide scale, she deserves that fair chance.  And if or when this race becomes crowded with contenders, perhaps Pam Keith could rise above the fray as the candidate with the passion to truly advocate progressive ideas and to win over swing and centrist voters.  That is the imagined democratic way.  That is why we have primaries.

It would be refreshing for all Florida Democrats to buy into this 2016 election by choosing our candidates in a real and robust primary. Once we have selected our candidates together, we can and will unite to elect a formidable Democratic slate from our state.  And hopefully, it will be these fairly elected leaders who will be on the forefront of moving our country forward for all of us in Florida and all of us across the nation.

Disclosure: TFS Editor-in-Chief Kartik Krishnaiyer has been advising Pam Keith’s Campaign


  1. I agree a primary to replace Rubio would be a healthy situation for Florida Democrats. No reason to just jump on the bandwagon for Murphy. I like Alan Grayson, an outspoken progressive Democrat, and one we could count on to NOT be a Manchin! Let’s keep an open mind and see who declares an interest in running


  2. Naoya6161 · · Reply

    If it’s not Grayson it could be fun


  3. Fla Dem · · Reply

    Pam Keith MUST drop out. The party is behind Patrick Murphy and anyone helping her including Mr. Krishnaiyer are in fact working for the Republicans.

    We already went through the process of choosing our candidate and now we need to beat the Republicans and take back that seat. This can only be done if everyone who claims to be a Democrat backs our candidate Patrick Murphy.

    Those who openly oppose him will be blackballed from the party and rightly so.


    1. Here we go again. You folks on Bronough are trying to control everything yet you can’t win a race. Being blackballed from a black hole isn’t such a bad thing.


      1. naoya6161 · ·

        Give us a candidate who can win (NOT GRAYSON) and we’ll talk.


    2. Incredulous · · Reply

      To say that the party has selected their candidate implies that you’re ignorant of how our system works. We cannot fairly state that any candidate has been chosen until the Primary election results are revealed. Individuals are free to endorse whomever they choose, the FDP is NOT free to force feed Democrats their choices. Anyone who believe so should themselves be blackballed.


      1. naoya6161 · ·

        Pretty sure FDP can endorse whomever they like too.


  4. Patricia · · Reply

    I am not a voter swayed by the FDP (state & Federal) leadership anymore. Before anyone post that I should follow the FDP & DEC leadership by selecting a “viable” statewide democratic candidate, I say bullshit! This was done in 2014. We lost. Party leaders need quit interfering and let the candidates earn the nomination.

    I have seen FL Senate Candidate Pam Keith speak at two Democratic events in Broward so far. I am very impressed by her qualifications (military service & articulate attorney). She also has traveled and lived overseas, plus she has stronger foreign policy knowledge.

    Where are the other democratic candidates? If Congressman Patrick Murphy wants my vote, he needs to come out to Democratic events/meetings and earn it.


    1. naoya6161 · · Reply

      Actually he already is.


  5. This whole thread is made up of people who don’t understand the candidate selection process. The FDP can not endorse a candidate. That is why we have primaries. Every time the FDP favors one candidate over another they stomp on the process and destroy our party. It is their job to support all candidates equally and help them through the process. Anyone who is involved with The FDP knows how to reach me. If I am wrong please let me Know. If I am right please contact me as well.


    1. Patricia · · Reply

      Mr. Kreps, I understand “how”the candidate selection process is “suppose” to work. As a rule, the FDP cannot endorse one democratic candidate over another. The FDP leadership appears not to break the endorsement rule, but they sure as hell bend that rule. They make it known (through donations, fundraiser attendance, and pictures posted to social media) to DEC members and voters which candidates they will be casting a ballot for.

      Florida Statewide candidates should be wary of support from the FDP leadership. The last election cycle is testament of just how ineffective the party leadership was for democratic candidates statewide. Take a page out of the Obama 2012 campaign manual and bypass the party structure.


      1. Patricia, as an avid Nan Rich supporter I am well aware of the way the FDP operates and I will definitely press for debates between the Democratic Senate Candidates. I would hope everyone does.


  6. Mark Lynn · · Reply

    Ms. Keith may be a very nice person and well qualified for public service, but you shouldn’t expect to start at the top! To put it in baseball terms, few, if any, go directly from high school to the major leagues. They must go through the minors, or farm system. Bob Graham served in the FL House & Senate, plus 8 years as governor. Chiles served in the FL House & Senate. Nelson served in the FL House, U.S. Congress & then Insurance Commissioner. No Florida U.S. Senator, directly elected (since 1913), has ever gone to the U.S. Senate as their first elective office. Even Mel Martinez had been elected Orange County Chairman, prior. My advice to Ms. Keith, if she wants a political career, to do a turn in the FL legislature, then run for Congress or maybe AG. Then she will be ready to be a major Senate contender!! Political rookies in the Senate have usually been disasters & one term wonders (i.e. John Edwards).


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