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CRC should think twice about putting drilling ban on the ballot

One can’t have a conversation about the 2018 elections nowadays without answering one not-so-simple question: How big will the “blue wave” be?

It’s no longer a debate about whether it exits.

We got our first hints, in Florida at least, with Annette Taddeo’s election to SD 40 last year. Margaret Good’s win in the February special for HD 72, a Trump plus-5 district, brought a little more intel. Even in SD 31, where Lori Berman’s victory was assured almost from the day she filed, was somewhat telling – she won by 50 points, more than doubling Clinton’s 2016 margin in the Democratic stronghold.

Looking at these victories, it’s no surprise Democrats think their odds are better than ever to retake the state Senate and possibly score a win in one or more of the statewide races on the ballot this year.

So, how big is the “blue wave?” That depends on a number of factors, none more influential than the Constitution Revision Commission.

The CRC could put upwards of a dozen proposals on the 2018 ballot – that’s in addition to other measures that made the cut via petition – and there’s at least one that could make the “blue wave” about 10 feet taller: an offshore drilling ban.

If the permanent drilling ban is placed on the ballot it’ll create an intense turnout mechanism for Democrats. Yes, many Republicans want it too, but not by near the margin of Democrats.

Heck, the ban itself might even fail if it makes the ballot. But that shouldn’t assuage any fears among Republicans up for re-election.

Giving Democrats – who are more energized this year than they were in 2016, let alone the last midterm cycle – another reason to show up at the polls could bring a lot more seats in the Legislature into play.

And we’re not talking known battlegrounds like SD 8 or SD 18. Think Kelli Stargel’s SD 22 seat, where a few months ago most would have said any Democrat running was on a fool’s errand.

For every reason Democrats in those “safe” Republican districts have to turn out – the Governor’s race, the U.S. Senate race, restoration of voting rights – you can slice another point off the Republican’s margin of victory.

If the CRC loads up the ballot with politically charged proposals, some GOP candidates will run out of cushion.

That’s looking past the dangerous precedent brought on by such a ban.

None of us know how energy is going to change and evolve in the coming years and we certainly don’t know what technology will be created that could make drilling more palatable. A permanent ban in our constitution strips future legislatures of the opportunity to address energy issues

In 2018, all it really does is give Democrats a significant rallying cry reminding everyone the GOP is the party of “Drill Baby Drill.”

Written By

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.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

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