Bob Sparks: Establishment Democrats hope Alan Grayson campaign dies quickly

A great deal of column-inch space and cable television time lately is devoted daily to Donald Trump. His controversial comments are analyzed, dissected and put before other candidates.

“Do you (fill in GOP presidential candidate’s name) condemn Trump’s comments about undocumented immigrants?” Another regular subject of speculation is whether Trump is damaging the GOP brand.

Democrats are absolutely giddy about Trump being in the race. The Donald, whether he tries or not, has the unique ability to suck the oxygen out of any room set up to discuss important public policy.

With U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio running for president, Floridians must elect a senator to replace him. As of Thursday, Republicans now have their dream candidate in the race…on the Democratic side.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who is in a league of his own for saying outrageous things, is now running in the Democratic primary to succeed Rubio. The Republican field is wide open, but the Democrats now present an opportunity for a Trump-like primary for this seat.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy is already in the race and picking up endorsements and contributions. While not nearly as high as Trump on the Forbes wealthy list, Grayson can kick in some of his own money if necessary.

Grayson is every bit Trump’s equal, and then some, when it comes to bombast. He delivers fiery, unapologetic rhetoric from the House floor, often with graphics to back him up.

Many will remember his famous description in 2009 of the Republican healthcare plan. Step 1, he said, was “don’t get sick.” Failing that, Grayson said the GOP plan was for the sick to “die quickly.”

For those unable to hear him in the gallery, Grayson provided poster boards mounted on an easel. The congressman has the unique ability to out-Trump Donald Trump. That frightens establishment Democrats.

Grayson recently entered the Hall of Fame for political commentary when he described a reporter as a robot performing human digestive functions. (He was more graphic.) It doesn’t get any better than that.

Murphy is the clear favorite of the Democratic establishment. Without waiting for Grayson or anyone else to jump into the race, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) quickly endorsed the Jupiter congressman, who until 2011 was a Republican.

So did former Gov. Charlie Crist and former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink. According to Murphy’s campaign website, four members of the Florida congressional delegation, six state senators, 19 state House members, and six mayors are supporting Murphy.

All may support Murphy wholeheartedly, but make no mistake: There was an unmistakable mission to keep Grayson out of the race. This week some desperate, last-ditch, intra-squad attack strategies surfaced.

The chairwoman of the St. Lucie County Democratic Party filed a complaint with the U.S. House Ethics Committee over Grayson’s management of two hedge funds. Celeste Bush, who lives in Murphy’s district, said Grayson has “betrayed the trust of voters.”

Democratic state Sen. Eleanor Sobel called Grayson “an embarrassment and detriment to the party.” According to Politico, Bush has asked the Florida Democratic Party to decertify the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida following its full-throated support of Grayson.

Here are a couple of questions for Bush, Sen. Sobel and other establishment Democrats. At what point did Grayson become an “embarrassment”? Was it because of the way he handled his hedge funds or the way he became rich? Did the robot comment put you over the top?

Did either of you, or any prominent Democrat, feel he was an embarrassment when he said Republicans in Congress hoped sick people would “die quickly”? Were prominent Democrats asked to condemn his remarks?

To the contrary, Bill and Hillary Clinton campaign confidante James Carville congratulated Grayson on CNN for “having the courage to go up and say what he said.” If Florida Democrats truly believe that, then Florida Republican operatives cannot wait for more examples of Grayson’s courage on the campaign trail.

Bush, Sobel and other Democrats who tried and failed to keep Grayson out of the race are staring at a sobering statistic. A Gravis Marketing poll of 881 registered Florida Democrats conducted from June 16-20, showed Grayson with a 63-19 percent lead over Murphy. The numbers say most Florida Democrats aren’t embarrassed.

As the race for Florida’s Senate seat begins to pick up steam, establishment Democrats (Grayson may refer to them as robots) have one wish for the Grayson campaign: Die quickly.

Bob Sparks is a business and political consultant based in Tallahassee. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Bob Sparks

Bob Sparks is a former political consultant who previously served as spokesman for the Republican Party of Florida, Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Attorney General. He was a senior adviser to former Gov. Charlie Crist. Before entering politics, he spent nearly two decades in professional baseball administration. He can be reached at [email protected] and Twitter @BobSparksFL.


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