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Florida Democrats and the ill-advised politicization off a pandemic

Their constant political hits are turning into the boy who cried wolf.

Florida Democrats are relentlessly going after Gov. Ron DeSantis over his various handlings of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some are focusing their attacks on legitimate problems and holding the Governor accountable, it is looking more and more like the party’s entire response to the pandemic is to just do the opposite of the Republican Governor.

It’s not a surprising approach. DeSantis isn’t up for reelection this year, but attacking him is akin to attacking President Donald Trump, who Democrats have been salivating to unseat since before he even took office.

But there are two major problems with their strategy. The first is obvious.

Average Floridians aren’t interested in politicizing a pandemic. They want to know their health is being looked after. They want to know how they’re going to earn a paycheck. They want to know when their kids can go back to school and if they can do so safely.

Democrats are correct when they say they want data-driven decisions. But their constant onslaught against the Governor often ignores the data he IS using to drive policy.

When he sent the state into Phase One earlier this month, Democrats, some of them, focused on fear and ignored facts.

The Governor’s decision was more restrictive than the President’s and more restrictive than his own task force.

Pelting criticism while refusing to give credit where credit is due turns Floridians off. It doesn’t give them a sense of optimism, it breeds more fear, and not in a good way.

It also brings me to the second major flaw in their political strategy. It may very well have the opposite effect of what they want.

They’re becoming the boy who cried wolf.

It seemed politically expedient to exploit DeSantis’ delayed approach to issuing a stay-at-home order.

It was Christmas in April when it became clear the state’s unemployment system was in shambles.

That line gave Democrats red meat for which to not only blame the current Republican Governor, but the one before him too.

See, Republicans are bad!

For the hyper-partisan, these repetitive assaults only resonate in their own echo-chambers, but are they changing anyone’s mind who doesn’t solely consider the letter after a candidate’s name when making voting decisions?

What those voters are seeing is not a group of elected officials committed to helping them, it’s a bunch of people taking advantage of a crisis for political gain. It’s not a good look.

They’re getting whiplash from doomsday prophesies of overrun hospitals and Florida going the way of Italy and New York because DeSantis failed to act in a timely manner only to see those premonitions fade into oblivion without even an acknowledgement from state Democrats.

They’re reading the same headlines over and over on unemployment.

How many times does someone need to be told the unemployment system sucks before they tune out and disengage?

They’re learning that Democrats are raising funds based on DeSantis’ decision to allow barber shops and salons to reopen, even though he did so, in part, at the behest of two Democrats — Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

“No, you didn’t read that wrong. Florida Democrats are fundraising off hard-working Floridians safely returning to work,” the Republican National Committee wrote in an email after the Democratic Party’s exploitive fundraiser.

As most candidates are quietly raising funds and avoiding traditional politicking because of the virus, Florida Democrats are using it to pad their election coffers, opening the door for Republicans to pounce.

“Florida Democrats put politics over the safety and livelihoods of Floridians every day of the week,” the RNC wrote.

Do you see what they did there? They took the Democrats’ own line of reasoning and threw it in their face all because the party invited them to do so.

It doesn’t even look like the party is trying to hide their partisan bent.

Katie Betta, the deputy chief of staff for Senate President Bill Galvano who rarely weighs in publicly on politics, took to Twitter to blast Democrats for using a press conference to drive opposition for DeSantis over the state’s crumpling unemployment infrastructure.

“The fact that the ‘hotline’ number announced during this press conference is the main number to the Florida Democratic Party unfortunately makes it clear the press conference was more about politics and less about helping Floridians struggling with the impacts of COVID-19,” Betta wrote in response to a call line Democrats suggested for those having problems receiving benefits.

 

What good does calling the Democratic Party do for a jobless Floridian? None. It only gives party operatives the chance to take someone’s unfortunate plight and turn it into a stump speech.

And let us not forget what they did with Rebekah Jones, the ousted Florida Department of Health worker who helped manage the state’s coronavirus data dashboard.

It was fair to question whether Jones’ firing was legitimate or an attempt to erode transparency, but they didn’t ask that question. They took Jones at her word that she had been canned for refusing to remove data from the state’s site.

Within two days, The Capitolist debunked much of what had been reported and further uncovered a troubling criminal history suggesting maybe Jones isn’t the most credible of sources.

Granted, The Capitolist isn’t exactly the most unbiased source out there, but the information in their report is verifiable. It’s info Democrats could have gotten before jumping the gun.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz asserted Jones was removed for “refusing to manipulate data” and accused the Governor of launching a “smear campaign” against her, mere speculation at this point.

It was another example of how the party saw some dangling low-hanging fruit and grabbed at it, ignoring the lurking serpent waiting to strike back.

Worse, if they had been slow and calculated in their response, maybe there would have been smoke where there was fire. Or maybe there wasn’t a fire and they could have saved themselves the embarrassment.

Either way, the track record is clear. Florida Democrats want to deliver the state to Joe Biden in November and they don’t care how they’ll do it, pandemic be damned.

There was a time when I would have said Democrats needed to learn how to better fight dirty against the Republican campaign machine, but to do it as 2.1 million Floridians are out of work and thousands have died is a bridge too far.

My guess is the average voter agrees.

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.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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