Black Friday brings sad tidings for those hoping attorney John Morgan would jump into the Democratic race for Florida Governor.
Via Facebook, Morgan wrote Friday morning that “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.”
“And I can’t muster enthusiasm for any of today’s politicians. They are all the same. Both parties. I plan to register as an Independent and when I vote, vote for the lesser of two evils. And if I ever ran, run as an Independent. #ForThePeople.”
In September, a poll of 263 likely Democratic voters — commissioned by the Florida Chamber of Commerce — Morgan took the support of 23 percent, a number well ahead of the 15 percent for former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham.
However, with the general election a year away, most people have not yet made up their minds; 44 percent were undecided.
In a tweet, Morgan said he plans to register as an independent, and vote for “the lesser of two evils.” If he were to run it would be as an independent — a disappointment for the Florida Democratic Party — which has enjoyed Morgan’s largesse in the past.
And I can’t muster enthusiasm for any of today’s politicians. They are all the same. Both parties. I plan to register as an Independent and when I vote, vote for the lesser of two evils. And if I ever ran, run as an Independent. #ForThePeople
— John Morgan (@JohnMorganESQ) November 24, 2017
Morgan had previously hosted high-dollar fundraisers for Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential bid.
Morgan’s exit from consideration in the Democratic field clears the path for Graham, who most polls put her ahead among declared candidates, and Philip Levine, the Miami Beach Mayor who is winning the money race and released the first television ad in the contest.
For much of 2017, Morgan teased a play for the Democratic nomination; even as early as February, he posted a Facebook link to a Tampa Bay Times article suggesting that he’d be the most potent Democratic candidate for the state’s highest office.
Last year, after the success of the constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in Florida, the outspoken Orlando attorney — a significant backer of Amendment 2 — told supporters: “the outpouring of encouragement to run for governor has been overwhelming and unexpected … It is either extremely flattering that so many people put such faith in me, or sad that people have so little faith in the typical politicians of both parties who are expected to seek the office.”
The statement was in response to an online petition started by Ben Pollara, the South Florida political consultant who worked with Morgan on Amendment 2.
Called “For the Governor,” the petition sought to enlist Morgan to run, gathering about 2,000 signatures. Pollara told the Orlando Sentinel that the reaction on social media has also been positive.
But Morgan warned: “Before I go down this road any further I need a lot of time to think about it … There are obvious drawbacks and hurdles.”
Morgan then held a “listening tour,” which took him around the state — as well as a handful of Democratic events — pledging to decide to run early in 2018.
In the end, though, the unconventional noncandidate did not stick to his self-imposed timetable.
As it stands, there are now four Democrats actively in the race — three mainstream candidates (Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Miami Beach Mayor Levine), as well as a political newcomer (Orlando businessman Chris King) with long ties to the Democratic Party.
Republicans have two very conventional, longtime politicians in the race — former Congressman and current Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam of Bartow, and one-time Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala of Clearwater, whose campaign has been somewhat sidelined over allegations of sexual harassment.
One undeclared candidate is House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has been coy about entering the race, saying he would prefer to make a decision sometime after the 2018 Legislative Session, which begins early January. The Land O’Lakes Republican has raised millions of dollars for his own political committee, which could be used for a campaign if he so chooses.
Morgan may not be in the race, but he will stay politically active, particularly on his next issue, Florida’s minimum wage. Morgan told the Miami Herald in July he hopes to have a constitutional amendment on the ballot by the 2020 election cycle.