One of the hallmarks of Democratic politicians is their deep affection for Hollywood. Receiving an endorsement from a luminary for your campaign carries immense value. What is not known, however, is how long that validation lasts.
Alan Grayson is making a new bid for the U.S. House of Representatives, and in his primary campaign against incumbent Rep. Darren Soto, he is looking to impress with his passel of famous advocates.
Just don’t look too closely at the expiration dates on those celebrity sanctions.
In a commercial, and in his email efforts, there is a theme of Grayson rebooting words from these past backers.
In an early television spot released by his campaign, the hyper-edited footage contains a variety of recognizable faces. There is a flash from actor Martin Sheen. Michael Moore appears to lend support with a few seconds of words. There is a quick clip of Grayson shaking hands with Chris Hayes on his MSNBC talk show. And personality Ed Schultz delivers impassioned words of support for the candidate. Er yes ... about that.
Let’s begin with that last name, Schultz. He has not been seen on the air at MSNBC in three years. (He currently has a show on the Russian Times America TV network, which is to say he is barely seen today.) This obviously means there is no way he is currently endorsing Grayson’s new run for office. Turns out, this is also the case with the featured celebrities as well.
Martin Sheen gave words of support to Grayson’s campaign for a fundraising effort -- in 2014. Michael Moore’s video touting Grayson is even more aged, having been recorded in 2010. Likewise, words of support from Oliver Stone, whose supportive words are also eight years old. There is a question of propriety here, as these “endorsements” were made so long ago, in other election races and against other candidates. Grayson sees no problem, of course.
“I assume what he said then is in his heart now,” he is quoted as saying to the Orlando Sentinel, referring to Stone. He has similar explanations regarding the quotes from Moore, and Sheen. The use of these dated endorsements feels something of desperation by the campaign. Grayson has also lashed out at Soto, declaring that the endorsement the representative has collected from the AFL-CIO has essentially been bought.
(Congressman Soto, incidentally, had something to say about that. Speaking to Sunshine State News Thursday morning through his campaign, he said, "I was honored to be the opening speaker at the Florida AFL-CIO Convention and get their endorsement based on my strong record on collective bargaining and workers rights. Carl Booth's In Touch Strategies is hired to assist with our field program. Deb Booth does not work for our campaign. Only Grayson could turn his rejection into a conspiracy theory.”)
The question about using these older endorsements is present given so much time has elapsed and, despite Grayson’s claims of permanence, attitudes may have shifted. Let’s look at some of the quotes delivered years ago:
Said Martin Sheen in that fundraising video, “Congressman Alan Grayson is perhaps the strongest American voice for peace.” In similar fashion Stone announced, back in 2010, “I support Congressman Alan Grayson because he supports peace -- and I’m asking for you to support him, and join our movement for peace.”
Now, weigh these declarations of Grayson being a candidate of peace, to what has been learned in the ensuing years. His divorce proceedings saw comments made by his wife that she had endured physical abuse at the hands of husband Grayson. The politician then did little to help his cause when he had a physical altercation with a reporter who questioned his violent past. Grayson recently lost a position with the outlet Politifact over the issue of his domestic abuse.
It is items like these, surfacing well after the original backing from celebrities, that calls into question their being used today. After all, hearing Martin Sheen say, “Alan Grayson has won the long-promised blessing reserved for the peacemakers,” you can charitably say those words appear to be “dated.”
Brad Slager is a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer who wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.