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The Bloom is Starting to Come Off Dan Gelber

February 10, 2015 - 6:00pm

Now 54, Dan Gelber no longer classifies as a rising star for Democrats and has apparently reached his political ceiling.

Gelbers name is starting to pop up as a candidate for future campaigns. This week, the Miami Herald reported that there are some Democrats asking Gelber to run for Miami-Dade County mayor. His name also shows up on the various lists of Democrats who could run for the Senate in 2016.

But the luster is off Gelber to some degree. He is no longer the feisty House Democrat who enjoyed tangling with Jeb Bush. Gelbers political height came in 2006 when he took over the House Democratic caucus before being elected to the Florida Senate two years later.

It was all downhill from there. Gelber started running for the U.S. Senate in the 2010 election, only to drop out and run for attorney general once Kendrick Meek got in the race. Primary opponent Dave Aronberg, a fellow state senator, had a field day with Gelber running for three different offices over a two-year period. Gelber beat Aronberg in the primary but came up well short against Pam Bondi in the general election, losing by 13 percent.

Gelber somehow walked away from being buried by Bondi and kept himself in the public eye going after Rick Scott on a wide array of issues. There was even talk about Gelber running for governor or attorney general again but he ended up not running for either job.

Instead Gelber threw his support to Charlie Crist and worked the grass roots hard, trying to convince his fellow liberals to accept the former Republican turned Senate candidate, with no party affiliation, turned Democrat.

Gelber seemed a lock for a second Crist administration. There was even talk that Gelber would end up as Crists running mate and, in all fairness, he probably would have been a better choice than Annette Taddeo in that spot. One of the reasons that Crist went down was underperfoming with Democrats in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Thats Gelbers stronghold and he has generally been more successful than Taddeo who has never won elected office despite her best efforts.

With his stalled Senate bid, his attorney general campaign and now his role on the Crist team, Gelber is starting to look like a political has-been who simply cant win the big elections. Hell keep a spot on the Democratic bench for the moment, an indication of how weak that party is in Florida but also a testament to his strengths: intelligence, passion and being aggressive. But there are other rising stars in the Democratic ranks -- Gwen Graham, Patrick Murphy, Ted Deutch -- starting to elbow Gelber aside. Gelber might have his chances in the future but his stature is somewhat diminished from where he was in 2008 when he led House Democrats and claimed a Senate seat.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

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