Will the third time be the charm for Dwight Bullard? It should not be…

By Mark Foley (Florida House of Representatives) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Mark Foley (Florida House of Representatives) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

County shopping has become the rage in Florida Democratic Party circles. The most dramatic feature of the 2017 FDP Chairs race has been the willingness of those who want to be FDP Chair to shop for a county who can elect them  and make them eligible. Just the other day we thought Alan Clendenin’s move to Hampton, Florida after striking out attempts to become eligible through home county Hillsborough and neighboring Manatee was the most outrageous thing we’d seen in some time. But enter progressive champion Dwight Bullard who appeared to be done after losing at the Miami-Dade DEC organizational meeting on December 6th only to get a second bite at the apple two weeks later and again fall short while he was out of town. Now Bullard, who rejected a chance to move to a more winnable State Senate seat earlier this year  is now apparently willing to move 450 miles to Gadsden County to become eligible for State Chair. Will the third time be the charm for the former State Senator from South Miami-Dade County?

At the time when Bullard said no to jumping districts he said:

“While there has been much speculation about my future Senate seat plans, I wanted to take this opportunity to reiterate my commitment to the South Dade community (in the newly drawn District 40). I have had the pleasure of serving as both Representative and Senator in this District for many years and could not think of a more rewarding area to have the privilege of continuing to serve. While I greatly appreciate those who have reached out to encourage me to move to a different District, the people here know that I have always been and will continue to be a fighter who has always stood up and stood for them.” “Unlike other candidates and/or potential candidates, my level of commitment to District 40 spans more than 30 years. I’ve gone to elementary school in this District, graduated high school in this District, and I continue to work in this District. The people of District 40 have a clear choice in August and November as to who they choose to represent District 40. It is my hope they would choose someone who has always been here and not someone who merely shows up tomorrow. Home is where my heart is and home is where my heart has always been.”

He also said to the Tampa Bay Times in June:

“You try to convince these soon-to-be 18-year-olds that democracy is a real thing, that it’s not a theory to have a government of the people, by the people, for the people,” Bullard said. “So when someone comes along and tries to undermine a guiding principle of mine, it’s disgusting.”

Bullard was right at the time. His family is an institution in South Dade and it would have been a mistake for him to move north just do a political favor for the Democratic Party or some political insiders. Similarly, this go-round Bullard has run and lost twice in his own home county. The idea of going Gadsden might keep the most progressive candidate alive in the race for Chair but smacks of the kind of political gamesmanship progressives have come to loathe. The left rightly called out Bullard’s opposition including Senate candidate Andrew Korge and the party leaders that tried to shove him aside.

This time however, Bullard risks damaging his brand and the aura of authenticity he has long provided. While many in the progressive community would love to see Bullard lead the FDP, the cost this time might simply be a bridge too far.  Bullard can continue to forcefully advocate liberal positions and leadership without appearing to be like every other political opportunist. The genuine article is about to be compromised by playing the same game those he has fought hard for years against regularly engage in.

3 comments

  1. Millie Herrera · · Reply

    You said it all in the last paragraph.

    I supported Dwight for the Senate, voted for him twice and even went on Spanish radio to beat back the horrible negative campaign against him (calling in at 5am Clifornia time!!). But his skills as a progressive voice in the Senate did not translate at all to his role as Miami-Dade DEC chair, where he failed to do anything.

    I think this latest move is ill conceived and can only hurt him and divide the Party more if he loses – both of which he has a good possibility of doing.

    A shame to end his political career this way.

    1. I agree. Sad way to end it if it is in fact the end.

  2. […] this race has centered around what progressive hero, former State Senator Dwight Bullard would do. Bullard’s strange odyssey to becoming qualified to run for Chair took him from two Miami-Dade DEC defeats soon after the loss of his Senate seat in November to […]

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