Why the heck do I care so much about the Tallahassee City Commission race?
For starters, a significant percentage of those who read Florida Politics — or subscribe to Sunburn (thank you!) — either live or work in the Capital City.
If you care, I care.
Also, I am completely fascinated by the dynamics of the race.
Shot: For the first time in nearly 200 years, a majority of Tallahassee’s City Commissioners are Black.
Chaser: A challenge to this historic majority is coming from the far-left by a young white woman named Jack Porter, who has been rolling out endorsements from such noted neo-progressives as Orlando state Rep. Anna Eskamani and now uber-leftist, Barbara DeVane. They are joining forces to — I am not making this up — unseat Elaine Bryant, a Black Democrat woman.
Let me be clear, this particular Black woman they are targeting is no Clarence Thomas. Bryant’s record (in 18 short months) is actually pretty impressive if you were building a left-of-center dossier:
— Enacted one of the strongest ethics reform packages in the state (ethics reform: check)
— Put Tallahassee as one of the state’s leader on its solar footprint (energy efficiency: check)
— Banned conversion therapy for minors (LGBTQ: check)
— Voted for new gender equity paid parental leave policy (gender equity: check)
— Adopted a Clean Energy Plan resolution to move Tallahassee to 100% renewable energy by 2050 (environment: check)
So, what exactly has Bryant done to earn the ire of the extreme left?
That’s what’s so perplexing. I’m not really sure, and neither is anyone else.
One of the attacks against her by Porter is a claim that this is a city “willing to kick low-income families out of their homes.”
First, Porter’s statement is a complete lie. The infrastructure project referenced was to create a new southside road called FAMU Way (it was a southside redevelopment and investment project!), and the project was proudly championed by none other than then-Mayor Andrew Gillum.
Not one person was ‘kicked out of their homes’ in the process.
Second, Bryant is supposedly taking the wrong kind of money for her campaign, which is a claim that is also malarkey.
Jack claims in emails and social media to be “people-powered” and to have “more than 700 small donors.”
Nope. Not true. An examination of her campaign reports show that she doesn’t have 700 donors (big or small), she has 396, and she doesn’t even have 700 separate donations. She has 560.
There are a couple of other facets to this.
The public record shows that she and Elaine Bryant have nearly the same exact number of individual donors (396 to 387), but only 63% of Porter’s donors live in Tallahassee, while nearly 90% of Bryant’s do!
You see where I’m going with this.
Ms. “People-Powered” is being funded by out-of-town and out-of-state interests with Porter having more than two and a half times the number of donors (96) who live out of state than Bryant does (36).
Of course, the largest donor to her “people-powered” campaign is herself, putting in $10,000 of her own money. Power to the People!
If Porter is willing to lie about things that are easily verifiable, such as campaign donations, what else is she willing to lie about?
So, after cutting through the falsehoods and misdirected attacks for something that didn’t happen (forcing people from their homes), the only thing left to conclude is that Elaine Bryant just isn’t pissed off enough. (Correct me, anyone, if I am wrong here.)
We can only presume the rationale for unseating her is that this 27-year old recent college graduate is mad as hell and just isn’t going to take it anymore — not with her Master’s degree in hand and all her liberal friends whining over a Mango Wit at Proof.
And they must be wholly perplexed why a 66-year old Black woman is being respectful of people across the aisle, isn’t throwing bombs (verbally, of course), and is trying to enact real change through persistence and hard work. Sure, she passed the most stringent ethics reform in the state — but, dammit, it still wasn’t tough enough!
Sure, she voted for a police review board — but it’s not the exact board we wanted!
My refrain has been and remains: If this is what the new progressivism looks like, it’s a losing formula..
Further, if this City of Tallahassee race is a metaphor for things to come nationally, I don’t want to hear one peep — not one — from my friends on the left when Donald Trump gets reelected.