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Columns

A Conservative Democrat Handicaps the Dem Gubernatorial Primary

August 21, 2017 - 8:30am

The Florida Democratic Party is faced with a huge dilemma. It hasn’t won the governor’s mansion in a generation and unless Democrats nominate the right person, they won’t have a chance at winning back the most coveted position in Florida government.

As a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, I know the inclination of the party, certainly the new chair and executive director, both of whom are clueless about winning elections statewide, are likely to support the most liberal candidate.

That’s because the mantra from the extreme left is that moderate candidates haven’t motivated the base enough to turn out and win elections.

You see, the party elite believe that just because they have the superior number of registered voters, all they must do is turn them out and they win.

But, what they consistently fail to realize is that many of us who are registered as Democrats are Reagan Democrats, or Blue Dogs, and there’s no way we’re going to support an ultraliberal candidate.

So, of the five candidates that have filed or are rumored to run, let’s handicap the race through the eyes of a conservative Dem.

Let’s start with the ones who have filed.

Andrew Gillum is an Obama meme. He’s never not lived off the government dole.  He’s a failed mayor of Tallahassee who doesn’t have enough name recognition or gravitas to win the nomination.

Moreover, he’s a flawed candidate. The first out of the box, Gillum narrowly escaped indictment for an email scandal that Hillary would have been proud of.  His city has led Florida in crime for the second year in a row, and he hasn’t a clue of how to combat it.

He’s never met a tax increase he didn’t support. He’s refused to cut expenses, wants free abortions for his followers, wants all confederate statues removed, and oh yeah, his friends and campaign operatives are under FBI investigation for corruption. 

He’s the prototype for a failed gubernatorial candidate of any party.

Then there’s Chris King, an Orlando businessman who kicked in $1.5 million of his own money to make a splash. A Harvard graduate, successful businessman building affordable housing, he believes his first race for elected office should start at the top. However, he’s not Donald Trump or Rick Scott. He’s as liberal as Gillum and what he has going for him is that none of the things true about Gillum, apply to him. But he also doesn’t have a record and he wants to tout climate change, LGBTQXZ rights, no guns, no Civil War monuments to shake the snowflakes who support him, and he endorses every other cause known to socialism.

Nice guy, but he doesn’t have the wealth or the deep support to allow him to be a force to be reckoned with through the entire primary.

Next comes Gwen Graham, the one-term congresswoman from North Florida who’s also the daughter of legendary Florida politician (governor and U.S. senator) Bob Graham.

She bills herself as a centrist, moderate Dem and interestingly, her voting record in D.C. reflects that. She refused to support Nancy Pelosi for speaker, and while it was a foregone conclusion that Pelosi would win and there would be kickback, she stuck to her guns.

While she supported climate change, she also voted for the XL Pipeline, so she showed that she can aggravate both Dems and Repubs with equal aplomb.

Her biggest advantage is her last name and the weight that name carries in the party. Her father will certainly campaign for her as he did when she ran for Congress in the conservative Panhandle, and a lot of folks remember him. Bob Graham has a reservoir of good will built up over decades.

The two folks still deciding about the primary are Phillip Levine and John Morgan, both very wealthy.

Levine is the current mayor of Miami Beach and many pundits insist he wouldn’t be able to be elected to a third mayoral term which is why he’s running for governor. A businessman, he has taken his fight with Airbnb public and it’s become rather nasty.

While he maintains he’s fighting for property rights for neighbors who don’t want loud parties in their quiet neighborhoods, Levine is also inhibiting the rights of homeowners to make money to help them keep their increasingly pricey homes in a high tax area of the state.

Levine also had a running battle with hometown reporters and has banned certain ones from his Facebook page -- which never looks good in liberal politics. He also has flirted with running as an Independent, which won’t sit well with some libs. And he has brought on board his campaign team one Adam Goodman, a heretofore GOP strategist, which twists the knife even more.

Yet, his politics are off-the-chart liberal, so in the end, he’ll be forgiven for those transgressions and his money will ensure that he’s there to the end.

The most well-known Dem thinking about running is the narcissistic John Morgan, an advertising trial lawyer whose moniker is on every television, billboard, bus bench, and marijuana joint in the state -- or so it seems.

Morgan is the wealthiest candidate among the five and he’s demonstrated he’s willing to spend the dollars if he decides to run.  Charismatic, potty-mouthed by his own admission, irreverent and a classic non-politician who wants to make his first foray into politics at the top of the heap.

He’s gunning to become the Dems' Donald Trump, and the similarities were outlined above.  But he’s got two things going against him: One, he’s a plaintiff’s trial lawyer and they rank even below lobbyists like me with the public. And second, he’s had two DUI’s.

But he bests Trump because he’s articulate, genuinely funny, and is deeply committed to advancing the socialist agenda of Obama, Hillary and Sanders, ad nauseum.  He wants a $15 minimum wage, which would be devastating to small businesses. He wants legal marijuana, and why not? ... Only everyone else doesn’t have a chauffeur.

Bottom line, the Graham-Nelson wing of the party can’t afford to let Morgan be the Dem nominee. Not because he can’t fund it himself, not because he’s not true to his soul on the liberal-left agenda, not because he’s inarticulate, but because he has the potential of taking everyone else down across the state in their respective races.

Despite the Dems' time-honored belief, Florida is a centrist state that can swing just to the left, or just to the right, but never too far.  Obama won twice, sure, but each time it was a close race. 2018 will be an off-year election, which means there isn’t a presidential election to foment an outpouring of voters -- in either party.

But Repubs have shown that they’re masters of the off-cycle election and despite money and some help from D.C., the Dems still can’t figure out how to win statewide. Except for Nelson. But Nelson is the last one, and even he may be finished when Gov. Rick Scott runs against him.

Clearly, the best hope for the Democrats is to nominate Gwen Graham because she best reflects the moderate majority of Florida voters. If she selects an African-American from South or Central Florida as her running mate, she has a fighting chance to win, and that’s the best that the party can expect.

Nominate a far-out leftie, and it's game over. No one north of Orlando will support a radical leftist and as Gov. Scott proved in his last election, even large margins in liberal areas won’t overcome moderate and conservative voters among the Democratic, Republican and Indie voter (these voters still tend to vote for the party they came from, according to analyses) in other parts of the state.

Levine or Morgan will be a total disaster. Graham is the only person who has a chance at winning the mansion back for the D’s.

Barney Bishop III is the former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party and he’s the past president & CEO of Associated Industries of Florida.  A self-described conservative Democrat, he believes in a strong private enterprise system as the hallmark of a strong democracy.

Comments

Barney still a Democrat . . . . . right !!!! . . . . . Barney hasn't voted for a Democratic President (and perhaps a Governor) since sometime last century . . . . . . his idea of today's politics appears to be best summed up in his statement last year that "All of us God-fearing Dems and Republicans will rebuild this country and make it great once again" . . . . . . . . how's that working out for you, Barney, when even Republicans are abandoning that disaster-in-the-White-House, your friend Donald Trump . . . . . . must be those great family values Trump shares with us daily, your values, correct . . . . . . . . bullying, racist hate politics . . . . . and those who will not condemn and abandon those who ply them arrogantly . . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

Most likely, the author is a Republican plant, or is the proponent of the same sort of "conservative" & outdated thinking which has helped the Democrats snatch defeat from the jaws of victory so many times before in recent history. Contrary to the author's thoughts, the entire Democratic field sounds great as to each & every candidate! The clearly unfair personal insults thrown errantly at Morgan plainly reflect the author's fear of Morgan's bold leadership & Morgan's immense popularity among loyal Democrats & freedom-supporting independents (& even principled Libertarians and pragmatic Republicans). His disdain for Morgan should also be viewed as an outstanding badge of honor & a political confidence booster by Morgan & his family, friends & other supporters.

The writer of this was a republican. All of the negative thibjgs he said about John Morgan are unsubstantiated facts. & to associate him with Trump, & as the "Dems Trump", is absolutely ridiculous!! This just makes me want to vote John Morgan in even more. He's one of the kindest, most connected to the constutuents' needs & wants, then any other politician I've seen run for Fl governor. Take this as a compliment, John! This guy is intimidated!

Well said.

Ricky proved the Governor's mansion could be bought. Twice!! Without charisma and "indictment baggage" on his resume. Not sure that wouldn't apply in '18. Marijuana legalization vote of over 70% may be a "tell" on Morgan's chances. And voters want what they voted for...and not what the Legislature "engineered" !!

With people like you calling themselves Democrats, no wonder FL Dems are such a sad bunch. Hope enough progressives are out and about in 2018 to give people an actual choice.

Barney is a republican plant. No true dem would of posted that nonsense

Really poor analysis that fails to grasp the magnetism and magic an irreverent populist ', a self made man, like John Morgan, will bring to the race. He will crush the staid opponents the way Trump KOd establishment Republicans.

It is totally improper the vociferous accusations towards Mr. John Morgan, Esquire. Mr. Morgan is not a narcissistic. Mr. Morgan is a honorable lawyer who stands against corruption. Be well aware that nobody in this nation can challenge the moral integrity of Mr. Morgan. He must be the proper Governor of the State of Florida.

You'd think John Morgan has more to do with his time than comment under fake names on an SSN article.

Gwen may run on daddy's name but that does not necessarily translate to additional votes. The voting dynamic here has changed and Sen. Graham has been out of office for over 6 years. Can she win? Sure. Does she win on daddy's name? I doubt it.

Good article Barney. As a "recovering Democrat", everyone you mentioned disgusts me for a variety of weak, self-centered weaknesses and past self-imposed actions in their public failures. The Democrat Political Party is, without question, "circling the drain to oblivion" (the "lemmings are already nudging each other 'over the cliff"). For the survival of the United States (and Florida in particular), Republicans must politically dominate until the ugly memory of "he whose name shall not be mentioned" is washed from voters' minds, and 'media complex' intents, for at least two generations. We must utilize "Occam's Razor" when we hear thundering hooves; and think "Horses", and NOT "Zebras" any longer...(at least NOT in America!)

Yes, yes, like Barney you're a true Democrat, C Breeze . . . . . . . . or have you already forgotten that post on this site not so long ago that--> "I already changed my party affiliation, SO I CAN VOTE AGAINST HILLARY in the primary ! Good strategy huh?...Hopefully it will catch on... (Oh betcha [to paraphrase Sarah] it will ! )". . . . . . . . . . yeah, a TRUE Democrat, aren't you . . . . . . . either that or a blatant liar . . . . . . . . besides being a racist (remember that previous, often stated throw-away--> "that niggler, Barak Hussein Obama") . . . in all ways . . . . . . . . simply . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . . .

Gwen Gaham is going to clean your clocks (and those of today's GOP, C Breeze. A breath of fresh air. And be sure to clean up after your "Horses" this time...

Very clever!

Interesting read from someone who obviously knows the Florida electorate. Just curious as to why you call yourself a Democrat?

I call myself a Democrat because I am one...I'm a conservative Dem and there are many of us...we helped to elect Trump to the Presidency because the Democratic Party is way too liberal and too much identified with identity politics...and we helped Rick Scott get elected twice...so yeah, I'm a Democrat and I'm staying in the party because we need to get back to the center

If you voted for Scott and Trump, you're no Democrat no matter how in the hell you try to spin it. We don't need or want you, just leave

so to continue what our DNC chair said, if you are pro-life you have no place in our party? Inclusive of only those who walk lock step is what is tearing the party apart.

Agreed that "the best hope for the Democrats is to nominate Gwen Graham because she best reflects the moderate majority of Florida voters" and she has name recognition. I am a swing voter, a former Democrat (Blue Dog) and I have to say that THIS WOMAN is what I would envision as being the FIRST FEMALE POTUS...some day.

Nepotistic Gwen Graham was an abject failure in Northwest Florida's Second District.. You "Moderate Mary" say, Gwennie is your 'vision' for "first female POTUS"...?!?!? LORD, protect and keep us from the likes of nepotistic Gwen Graham (and ALL of her inept ilk); we've ALREADY suffered through a "FIRST 1/2 Black POTUS", so inept that, were the U.S. a South American dictatorship (like Venezuela) with NO term limits, he would have totally destroyed our economy and our country ENTIRELY within another decade ! We are NOT the "Guiness Book of World Records" and we must be careful in our choice of "FIRSTS" who have NO KNOWN POSITIVE VERIFIABLE HISTORY !

You are many things C Breeze, but racist bigot may be the worst of them.

"Sticks & stones..." etc., etc,.. Look to thine own self, "Nose Holder" !

Sound worried. Good.

Reagan Democrats and Blue Dogs haven't had a Democrat they could vote for in so long they might as well be Republicans. The Democrat Party has gone so far left that Karl Marx would have to look to his left to find them.

Thanks for your tips, Tipton I totally agree. Why don't you drop a few names on Gwen's running mate.

Some names of potential African-American running mates for Gwen Graham are former Sen. Chris Smith of Ft. Lauderdale, Sen. Darryl Rouson of St, Petersburg, Cong. Val Demings of Orlando, or Sen. Perry Thurston of Ft.Lauderdale

HOPEFULLY Val Demings will find the gun she lost while filling the position of Orlando's Chief of Police (and didn't report the loss), before we assign her ANY position of responsibility ! [Besides, she's an overall political neophyte]

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