Here’s where sh*t stands — the ‘Democrats can’t keep it together’ edition

Republican and Democrat

For an entire eight days — EIGHT DAYS — local Democrats had their sh*t together.

On April 25, state Rep. Dwight Dudley announces he will not seek re-election. Hours later, the well-liked Ben Diamond announces his candidacy for Dudley’s seat along with the endorsements of almost all of Pinellas’ Democratic elected officials. The seamless transition was almost Republican in its efficiency.

Then, on May 3, Eric Lynn, heretofore a candidate for the 13th Congressional District, announces that he is dropping out of that race to run against Diamond in a Democratic primary.

Eight days. That’s how long the Dems kept it together. Instead of an automatic berth for one of their rising stars — Diamond — there’s now the prospect of an expensive, messy primary.

The honest truth is Lynn is the odd man out this election cycle, which sucks because he’s obviously an intelligent, capable candidate.

What strikes me about Lynn is a feeling I have about a lot of people making moves in downtown and northeast St. Petersburg: He is certainly FROM St. Petersburg, but he’s not OF St. Petersburg. Rick Baker, Jeff Brandes, Charlie Justice, Darden Rice … all of these pols are OF St. Petersburg.

Lynn is this cycle’s Jessica Ehrlich.

Maybe Lynn can transfer enough of the money he raised for his congressional campaign into a committee he can use to push his legislative bid, but it just feels like Diamond has more support from state and local Democrats.

And for eight whole days, that meant something.

Speaking of the money Lynn raised for his congressional campaign, we hear Lynn wants to keep a big chunk of it — as much as $400,000 — in reserve for when (his thinking, not mine) Charlie Crist tires of serving in the U.S. House.

It says something that Tom Alte and Meagan Salisbury, the local Democratic consultants du jour who were working for both Diamond and Lynn, decided to go with Diamond in HD 68.

Another thing about Lynn that irks me, although it’s not about Lynn per se, is the thinking that Lynn should have challenged Brandes for his state Senate seat. Right, because going up against the Brandes machine — probably the best-oiled operation in Tampa Bay politics — would have been easier than running against Diamond, a first-time candidate. It does not matter what the partisan or voting performance breakdown of the district shows, Brandes would have chewed up Lynn.

SPOTTED not long after he announced he was not running again for the state House: Dwight Dudley: eating ice cream outside of Locale Market in Sundial. Dudley is now the most relaxed Democrat in Pinellas County.

It’s remarkable to think about the number of events that have had to occur to put Charlie Crist on the verge of returning to elected office.

As one of the people who stood by Crist late into election night in 2014, I could not have imagined then that he would ever again have the opportunity to serve.

But then Congressman C.W. “Bill” Young died.

And then David Jolly pulled off a remarkable upset to keep Sink from winning CD 13 (if Sink had won in 2015, she’d have blocked Crist from running in 2016 because she would not have given up the seat no matter how it was redrawn).

And then Jolly decided to run for the U.S. Senate.

And then Rick Baker decided not to run for Congress.

And then Lynn decided to drop out of the race.

All of these events, concurrent with the landmark redistricting decision by the Florida Supreme Court, came together to give Crist one last bite at the apple.

Hopefully, Crist realizes what a gift he’s been given and that he doesn’t throw it away in two years to run for governor.

Watching U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor introduce Crist last week at a “Women for Charlie” fundraiser in downtown St. Pete, I could not help but wonder why the Tampa Democrat does not run for governor in 2018. She’s just as capable and charismatic as U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, only she has been serving for longer and is, therefore, a more polished candidate. She does not have the same famous last name as Graham, but hers isn’t too shabby, either. Of course, she won’t easily give up her safe Democratic seat, but she could, at least, test the waters.

One Tampanian, who is playing three-dimensional chess about 2016 and 2018, is political consultant Adam Goodman. The award-winning political ad maker (soon to be living in downtown St. Pete, just as soon as construction on the Bliss building finishes) has done a masterful job getting his clients, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, earned media: Bondi as a possible running mate to Donald Trump and Levine as a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018.

Didn’t William March of the Tampa Bay Times write that Tom Lee would likely announce last Monday his decision about whether he has decided to run for re-election? One Lee confidant told Florida Politics he’s not exactly sure where March got his information because the only thing Lee has made his mind up about is that he has yet to make up his mind.

As much as I don’t understand why Lee would want to return to Tallahassee for two more years during which he’ll be the odd man out (no high-profile committee chairmanship, no path to the Senate presidency), I predict he’ll file for re-election (and then run for CFO in 2018).

The race to replace Tampa’s Dana Young in the Florida House is already shaping up to be an expensive bruiser.

While Rebecca Smith and Jackie Toledo are squaring off on the Republican side, David Singer is carrying the Democratic banner.

Singer is a Tampa-based land-use attorney who was involved in the Go Hillsborough transit tax campaign back in 2010. Like Smith, this is his first run for office. Toledo came up short in her bid for a Tampa City Council seat in 2015.

One month into his campaign, Singer is already turning heads.

Singer announced Thursday he had raised over $47,000 since declaring his candidacy for House District 60.

Of course, he’ll need all the cash he can muster. Smith raised over $81,000 in her first month as a candidate in March, while Toledo has raised more than $50,000 since starting to fundraise in January.

As much as it is a shame that Angela Rouson won’t attempt to succeed her husband in the Florida House, it will be interesting to watch Wengay Newton throw bombs from the back of the chamber.

Now that the Tampa Bay Times has killed off its rival, the Tampa Tribune, will any Republican state legislative candidate running in a competitive seat ever again receive the editorial board’s endorsement?

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

One comment

  • Jeff Rigsby

    May 9, 2016 at 6:30 am

    I’m not an expert on Tampa Bay politics, but why wouldn’t running for Brandes’ seat (or Jack Latvala’s in Clearwater) have made more sense? There’s no Democratic competition for either seat, which is pretty disappointing. Surely Lynn would have had a head start by running unopposed in the primary.

Comments are closed.


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