The New Democrat Coalition which describes itself as “the pro-growth, fiscally-responsible wing of the Democratic Party,” has made two major endorsements in Central Florida Congressional races.
“GETTING THE NOD — New Democrat Coalition PAC endorses nine House hopefuls: The New Democrat Coalition PAC, which is affiliated with a group of moderate House Democrats, is backing nine more candidates. They include Matt Heinz, who’s challenging GOP Rep. Martha McSally; Monica Vernon, who’s running against GOP Rep. Rod Blum; and LuAnn Bennett, who’s challenging GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock. The PAC also endorsed six Democrats running in open seats: Salud Carbajal in California’s 24th District, Isadore Hall in California’s 44th District, Lou Correa in California’s 46th District, Darren Soto in Florida’s 9th District, Val Demings in Florida’s 10th District and Kathleen Matthews in Maryland’s 8th District. Each candidate gets $5,000.”
Given the efforts by both Soto and Demings to portray themselves as born-again liberals this campaign cycle, the endorsements could be more problematic than positive in a Democratic Primary for both candidates. Demings has a record in her previous races for office (A run for Congress in 2012 and an aborted Mayoral campaign in 2014) of advocating more centrist positions than she is articulating in the current campaign. Soto’s record prior to the recently completed 2016 legislative session is arguably the single most conservative for a Democrat in the legislature over the last ten years.
Both Demings and Soto are running in overwhelmingly Democratic districts under the new Congressional map and have thus shifted their rhetoric leftward and have hoped that activists and primary voters embrace this new-found liberalism while the donor and establishment class of the party continues to assume they’ll tow a moderate line if elected. This is indeed a dangerous game to play.
Florida is already represented in the New Democratic Coalition by Gwen Graham, Patrick Murphy and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Soto and Demings will be looking to add to the ranks of moderate Democrats in the state but unlike Graham and Murphy they are running in heavily Democratic districts where self-described liberals/progressives likely outnumber moderates or conservatives. This is not the reality in either Graham or Murphy’s districts which were both carried by Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential Election.