With the 2018 general election just three months away, incumbent state Sen. Dana Young has taken to the hustings, appearing at panel discussions, campaign events, and fundraisers.
Voters in Senate District 18 have been bombarded with Young campaign literature outlining her accomplishments in the Florida Legislature. Challenger Janet Cruz, a term-limited state representative, has yet to be heard from. Residents in Town and Country, a middle income, largely Hispanic portion of the district that is critical to Democrats, have received 10 Young mailers. From Cruz, zippity-doo-dah.
Young is determined to retain her Senate seat, targeted as flippable by Democrats six months ago. A series of gaffes by Democratic Party hacks has changed all that. Cruz needs a miracle.
Cruz has accepted campaign contributions from a well-known predatory lender that victimizes a significant portion of her constituency.
In the first Democratic gubernatorial debate, candidate Phil Levine could not identify the outgoing minority leader of the Florida House. It is Cruz. At least one of them should be embarrassed.
Young, though a staunch Republican, has shown a willingness to compromise and represent her constituency. As the general election draws closer, Tampa Bay Beat will enumerate the legislative records of both Young and Cruz.
Cruz’ late entry into the race infuriated the progressive wing of the party as she essentially forced attorney Bob Buesing to quit the race. Self-styled kingmaker Alex Sink, corporatist and the state’s former chief financial officer in what seems a lifetime ago, threatened Buesing with the denial of crucial endorsements and financial support if he contested Cruz in a primary.
Sink’s power within the Democratic party is incomprehensible. On balance, the candidates she has supported have lost. Sink has shown an uncanny ability to fail. In her last two attempts at political office, she lost to two neophytes, Rick Scott and David Jolly, neither of whom had ever before run for public office.
Efforts to repair the schism have floundered. Tampa’s progressive community largely believes treachery should not be rewarded. Buesing was their champion in this election cycle.
As of today, this race is not close.
St. Pete Polls, owned by a pay-for-play website, rated the Young-Cruz race a tossup one month ago. That organization’s track record is an abomination. Just ask Rick Baker.
Jim Bleyer, a former reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and Tampa Tribune, writes the Tampa Bay Beat blog.