Florida Democrats Putting All Their Chips on Charlie Crist

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: June 21, 2014 3:55 AM
Allison Tant

Allison Tant

Qualifying ended on Friday and Florida Democrats are putting all their eggs in Charlie Crist’s basket. But outside the gubernatorial race, Florida Democrats aren’t poised to stop Republican dominance in Florida.

Allison Tant promised to run competitive candidates in every state Cabinet race. After the dust cleared on Friday, Democrats have little to cheer about. Crist and Nan Rich are both credible candidates to challenge Rick Scott. George Sheldon and Perry Thurston both qualified to run against Pam Bondi, but the attorney general starts off with a clear edge.

But if Democrats could bring out big-name candidates against Scott and Bondi, Tant failed miserably against Jeff Atwater and Adam Putnam. William Rankin was the only Democrat to qualify against Atwater and his past raises major concerns. By the end of May, Rankin barely raised $13,000 since getting in the race back in October and he’s already spent more than $13,350 thanks to loaning his campaign $10,600. Most of what he had in the bank would have been used to pay the qualifying fee. That’s not enough for a serious legislative campaign, let alone one for statewide office.

Thad Hamilton, running against Putnam, is in even worse shape. Since getting in back in February 2013, Hamilton hasn’t raised $13,000, all of which he spent. Hamilton’s above water only because he loaned his campaign $5,000. Again, like Rankin, Hamilton’s just not a serious threat to beat a Republican incumbent.

Stuck with Rankin and Hamilton, Tant simply failed to deliver on her promise to run major candidates against the Republicans in the Cabinet. At the very least, she could have tried to lure Sheldon or Thurston out of the primary to run against one of the other Republicans in the Cabinet.

Democrats aren’t going to make much progress in the Republican-controlled Legislature, either. Republicans control the Florida Senate 26-14. That’s not going to change in November. Only three Democrats are challenging sitting Republican senators. It’s not mathematically possible for Democrats to flip the Senate this year. Tant and the party failed to deliver once again.

Things are a little better in the House. Republicans are running candidates in 93 of the 120 Florida House races while Democrats have candidates in 80 of them. But even that’s an uphill stretch. It’s telling that a sitting Democrat in the Florida House -- Reggie Fullwood -- bungled his paperwork and failed to qualify in a slam dunk race for his party, leaving no candidates in the race.

Polls show Crist running close to Scott, but even there his lead has dwindled in recent months. Bondi will be a tough out for whoever wins the Democratic primary. Atwater and Putnam are locks while Republicans remain in charge of the Senate and have an overwhelming lead in the House.

Allison Tant was supposed to make Democrats more competitive in Florida. Now that qualifying is done, it’s clear that the Democrats have no game plan besides hoping Crist, a former Republican, can beat Scott. This is a major step back after 2012 when Barack Obama and Bill Nelson scored big wins for Democrats in Florida.

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

Comments (8)

dave fe
1:34PM JUN 21ST 2014
Rick Scott has failed to help Floridians. The 1.7 million jobs in seven years not gonna come close. The jobs created are mostly low paying service work. Medicaid expansion not needed in Florida? Floridians voted to approve Obamacare and expand medicaid, not reject it. Republicans here say no. Look at voting restrictions, minimum wage,immigration, medical marijuana, abortion and women's rights, stand your ground and gun control. All of these issues are hot bottom issues and conservatives are losing on all of them. As an Independent it is disturbing to see the scandals here in Florida. The latest is the redistricting lawsuit. The state has become a joke with no real choice and a super majority held by republicans who do what ever they want. Failed leadership indeed.
2:36PM JUN 23RD 2014
Lower unemployment, cut taxes, record high tourism.... hardly a 'failed' leadership.
If conservatives were 'losing' on all of those issues, than voters wouldn't keep putting them back in office.
If you don't like living here, by all means, move.
10:46PM JUN 23RD 2014
Just can not resist. Unemployment up to 6.3. Florida lost 18000 jobs last month and tourism, food and beverage and other tourism related industries should have been hiring to prep for the summer season. The biggest tax break was a Republican one on vehicle registrations that was ill-timed and not the fault of Crist, despite republicant claims. The extra 700000 jobs are a pipe dream. After gutting education the budget per student is not yet back to pre-recession rates, and a dollar buys nowhere near as much as it did then. Florida has been envolved in active voter suppression for decades. In November over 500000 legal US citizens who are Florida residents will not be able to vote, which violates the US Constitution. Last, the gerrymandered districts protect a lot of those politicians, in direct violation of the State Constitution. RTG, if you want to give justifications at least be sure they are true!
Brian Maday
11:56AM JUN 21ST 2014
Considering the conditions existing in AMERICA , I really don't understand how any informed and thoughtful person could "Lean Left". WE Live in a country that is viewed by the World as "on its way down" in all respects.

Thanks to Governor Scott, and the Plan he put forth, and FOLLOWED THROUGH on as best he could, Florida has been much better off than most other states.

I am not so much Republican as I am Conservative, FOR the Constitution, Tea Party and a bit Libertarian. Before you vote - just consider your present situation compared to the Pre-Obama days - THINK ABOUT IT! The WORLD is crashing all around us due to FAILED LEADERSHIP in WASHINGTON!
2:02PM JUN 21ST 2014
Your comment is exactly what is wrong with modern politics. Beyond the fact our forefathers never intended to create a ruling class, to have people who are politicians for life, but that people would serve then return to private life. When a person is elected it is their JOB to represent ALL of the people in their district, not just those that elected them. Politics is the art of compromise not a my way or no way attitude. Republicans in goverment have only one answer, NO, rather than discussion and compromise. Far to often special interests and a vocal minority have been allowed to deciede what happens. Further, Florida has been run by the GOP for 2 decades so good, bad or otherwise it is all theirs. All while they violate the US Constitution every day by restricting citizens voices and votes. I hope you take a moment and think through your attitude and realize that a large part of that failed leadership is you and those like you. Thanx
8:53AM JUN 22ND 2014
If the forefathers intended for people to serve then return to private life, what is Wind Sock Charlie's excuse?
2:38PM JUN 23RD 2014
Its called term limits. Governor Scott has every right to run for a second term. Crist cut and run in an attempt for higher office. He is nothing more than a political opportunist.
9:26AM JUN 22ND 2014
There is no excuse for a member of the ruling class! His only saving grace is that he has shown himself to be willing to compromise, a basic requirement. I would prefer to see term limits on every elected position and lifetime limits on how many positions a person can hold. I detest special interests, career Politicians, corruption and those elected officials who fail represent ALL the people in their districts. With our current corrupt professional system I am required to chose whomever I hate the least. Both parties have allowed money to corrupt the system. Special interests, big money and political favors cause the rest of us to be unheard and unrepresented.

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