What is the Democratic Party without John Morgan?
That’s the question national Republicans were asking on Tuesday, pondering how the Dems move forward when their best shot at taking back the governor’s mansion left them high and dry.
On Friday, the Orlando attorney and former prominent Democratic fundraiser announced he would be leaving the party, citing a lack of enthusiasm over current politicians as part of the reason behind his departure.
“Spent all of Thanksgiving with my whole family,” Morgan wrote on Twitter. “While it’s amazing to be leading the polls for Governor without being a candidate I can’t muster the enthusiasm to run for the nomination.”
Both the Republican and the Democratic parties, Morgan said, didn’t offer much to keep him affiliated with any party.
“I can’t muster enthusiasm for any of today’s politicians. They are all the same,” Morgan said. “Both parties.”
Morgan then announced he planned to register with the Independent Party instead.
With Morgan’s exit from the Democratic Party comes the question Floridians -- and Republicans -- are wondering: If not Morgan, then who, exactly, can defeat a GOP candidate for governor next year?
The Republican Governors Association was quick to pounce on the news, claiming it signaled a lack of direction -- and a poor forecast -- for statewide Democrats hoping to end their losing streak in 2018.
“Morgan’s decision to abandon the Democratic Party does not bode well for the its chances of winning the Sunshine State’s highest office next year,” the RGA said in a statement Tuesday.
Democratic gubernatorial candidates, on the whole, have had less success in raising money for their campaigns than their Republican counterparts.
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam has already raised over $16 million for his bid for governor, while other GOP candidates -- some who haven’t even officially filed paperwork -- are still bringing in more cash than declared Democratic candidates.
Even U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham admitted her campaign had been falling behind GOP candidates in an email sent to supporters Tuesday.
“I won’t mince words. Our Republican opponents are outraising us -- by a lot,” she said. “It’s not surprising, really. When you’re in the pocket of big corporate donors and special interests, they’re going to fill your bank account with lots of cash.”
The RGA acknowledged money would be a big problem, and Morgan’s flight from the Democratic Party not only leaves them without a big name possibility to take back Tallahassee, but also severely cuts into their potential to raise cash.
Morgan is notorious for spending millions of dollars for causes he believes in. From 2014 to 2016, it’s estimated he spent around $9 million of his own money to fund Florida’s medical marijuana initiative. He’s also hosted several fundraisers for some of the Dems’ prized fighters like former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“With Democrat candidates already struggling to keep up with Republicans when it comes to fundraising, Morgan’s decision to jump ship on the party leaves them without one of their most reliable donors,” the RGA said. “As the lackluster field of Democrat gubernatorial candidates continue to struggle with anemic fundraising, legal troubles, and embarrassing gaffes, their chances of victory continue to diminish.