Unvetted and Unqualified: Allie Braswell's CFO Bid Reeks of Empty Politics
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At first glance, Allie Braswell is a dreadful fit for the Democrats to run against Jeff Atwater. Even more so now that we know about his bankruptcies. This is a candidate utterly lacking fiscal solvency creds on a personal level, let alone bringing any accounting know-how, against an incumbent chief financial officer who spent his career in leadership roles in banking and finance. But there are clear political calculations for the party rallying behind his candidacy.
So, where does Braswell get his "qualifications" to serve as Florida’s CFO? Democrats are hyping him as a “Fortune 100 executive,” if you can believe it. He had roles at Walt Disney World in IT and diversity training. He was at the helm of nothing. Braswell had more responsibility at the Central Florida Urban League than perhaps any job he's held in his career. But he still lacks the background in management and the private sector that Atwater and Alex Sink brought to the CFO office. In fact, he has little more to offer than the blanks he's fired at Atwater and Republicans in Tallahassee when he entered the race this week.
The hope is that he will turn out the base, not win over independents and swing voters. Having rolled big to victory last time, with an impressive war chest and an office humming along without controversy, Atwater is a mountain to climb. It’s hard to see how Braswell topples him next year -- considering Braswell has filed bankruptcy three times and has no one in his corner except Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant, who for some reason said of her candidate, "He is exactly the kind of leader we need in Tallahassee."
That's a statement likely to hurt Tant and the party more than it will help Braswell.
Braswell's association with the controversial Jesse Jackson already has him on his heels. So does his position in favor of repealing Florida's popular Stand Your Ground law.
Braswell, a Republican until 2008, appears to have all the markings of a sacrificial lamb. Democrats may have sung his praises last week, but at that point not all, if any, knew his full story -- that he couldn't keep finances in his personal house in order. And even then they didn't believe he could beat Atwater.
What they expect him to do is pump up turnout in Central Florida, get him on the stage with Barack Obama when the president campaigns in Florida, and maybe his presence will bring out enough of the African-American vote to take down Rick Scott in the gubernatorial election and help out in some competitive legislative and congressional races.
It will be interesting to see, if the Democratic candidate for governor wins in 2014, will there be a job for good soldier Braswell?
There’s a reason Braswell and Florida Democrats played down policy and talked up politics when he started his campaign last week. Politics, certainly not substance, is what his candidacy is all about.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News. Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews or at 228-282-2423.