Rick Scott Picking a Fight With Eric Holder is Smart Politics
Around the State
By going after Eric Holder last week, Rick Scott’s team picked a fight that could pay off politically in the days to come.
Holder is one of only three members left from Barack Obama’s original Cabinet but he’s certainly proven to be much more controversial than Arne Duncan or Tom Vilsack. Republicans started impeachment efforts against Holder last year due to his role in “Operation Fast and Furious,” the Justice Department seizing journalists’ records and his refusal to cooperate with Congress. Even though an internal Justice Department investigation cleared Holder on Operation Fast and Furious, Republicans in the House still don’t think the attorney general has owned up to his role in it.
The attorney general’s standing with conservatives has also dropped due to a series of fights with state governments. Holder compared voter laws in Texas to the poll tax and went out of his way to criticize Arizona’s immigration law.
Holder hasn’t just angered conservatives. Some longtime Democrats have never forgiven him for going after Dan Rostenkowski. Civil libertarians have called out Holder’s support of using drones and his support of using military tribunals for accused terrorists.
To be sure, the attorney general has become an albatross around Obama’s neck. But Holder, an early Obama backer, has always had the support of the president. Holder has often done the president’s dirty work, often insisting opposition to the administration is based on racial issues. From his excusing of the New Black Panther Party’s attempts to intimidate voters at the polls to his calling America a “nation of cowards” on race, Holder has been much wore willing than his boss to wade into the waters on race.
But Holder’s days might be numbered. If Republicans pick up the Senate in November, as appears increasingly likely, Obama will be in a much weaker position during his last two years in office. Holder has already been held in contempt of the House and it’s easy to imagine a GOP Senate following suit. There’s simply no way Republicans will work with Holder if they control both chambers, which means Obama could be forced to sacrifice his longtime lieutenant.
This being the case, Scott’s team chose wisely in going after Holder last week, painting his concerns about voting in Florida coming from his role as Obama’s enforcer. With Holder’s record and his lack of support from the voters, it’s easy to write off his efforts as only “more politics from President Obama – as the White House desperately tries to prop up the sagging campaign of their candidate, Charlie Crist.” Scott’s team also noted Holder backed earlier voting changes before the governor “added more early voting locations, more early voting days and shortened the length of the ballot” in 2013.
Going after Holder is smart politics. Obama isn’t as popular as he once was, obviously, but he did carry the state twice. Holder, on the other hand, is despised by Republicans and not exactly popular with Democrats after the constant flow of controversies. By getting into a fight with Holder, Scott fires up his Republican base while not stirring up Democrats the way he would if he called out Obama -- a smart move in what is a close race.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.