Senate Democrat leader flusters progressive candidates by dismissing ‘unwinnable’ races
Image via Colin Hackley.

“I'm guided by science & reality."

Sen. Gary Farmer, incoming Senate Democratic Leader, has irritated Democrats running in red districts by suggesting their candidacies are lost causes.

The Broward County Democrat entered an online fray on the wisdom of running Democrats in nearly every district this cycle.

“I’m guided by science & reality,” Farmer tweeted. “Contesting every race is great if you have $ to do so. We simply don’t & won’t until we achieve majority. When you spend on races that are long shots you take $ from races than can be won. Keyser Enneking lost by 0.8% b/c of funding fragmentation.”

He referenced a Senate District 8 election in 2018 where Democrat Enneking narrowly lost to incumbent Sen. Keith Perry.

But the part irking candidates more was the fact Farmer made his remarks after a progressive movement to field Democrats in all but one legislative race this year (an improper check stopped a candidate from qualifying in House District 5).

That achievement wasn’t accomplished with Farmer’s help. In fact, sources say Farmer urged Democrat Rachel Brown not to run in Senate District 27 in hopes an open Republican primary would produce a moderate Senator in a Republican district.

But the hedging of bets strategy irritated many candidates for House and Senate seats who ran despite long odds— often putting up their own money to do so.

“You might not have the money, but we do. Which is why every race is now contested,” wrote Bob Lynch, a candidate challenging Rep. Daniel Perez in House District 116. “Really cool message to send to millions of Floridians that they don’t matter and don’t deserve a choice in representation. Just wondering, can my race be won?”

Lynch is challenging a politician in line to be House Speaker in five years if Republicans hold the House. But he also contributed money for other candidates with little backing.

“Honestly man. Would love to know what the metrics are. Am I a long shot?? Are you telling me that I wasted my own money helping @AngieNixon @kelly4florida @KathyLewisforFL @LisaStortstrom @BrownforRachel and @NormanFlSenate qualify? Genuinely interested in the answer,” Lynch wrote.

Lynch tagged a series of candidates who he supported financially.

Farmer’s comment also bothered the groups that recruited a full slate, including 90 For 90 and the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida.

Janelle Christensen, President of the DECF, said there was more at stake than Senate seats. She has maintained a strong slate will help the ticket top to bottom, including Joe Biden’s chances of winning Florida.

“There’s plenty of literature on the reverse coattail effects & two way coattail effects,” she wrote. “This is the first time that we have this scale of a natural experiment with the state legislature as well as gubernatorial, congressional, Presidential.”

The 90 For 90 account suggested Farmer was compromising his own chance at becoming Senate President.

“Contesting all 11 FL GOP SDs on the ballot this cycle is a good strategy; even though Gary Farmer preferred to challenge only 4 of these,” the account wrote. “Who advises him? Conceding 7 SDs to the GOP on filing deadline day is the strategy of a perennial minority player.”

And Jared West, a candidate in House District 41, suggested Democrats can close gaps if they just run.

“Guess what, Deck is now calling my race a toss up,” he wrote. “When I entered, I was forecast to get 30% of the vote.”

Notably, the conversation started with a tweet by a major Democratic adviser in Florida when Senate Victory consultant Beth Matuga started the conversation pushing back on a post by progressive blogger Howie Klein suggesting Democrats have not been trying to win legislative seats for years.

“.@SenateVictoryFL caucus has grown in 10yrs from 12 to 17, with very real opportunity to get to 19 this cycle We’re the single most successful part of @FlaDems,” she wrote. “I’m tired of people pretending like contesting downballot seats is a new idea when they’ve been ignoring it for 10yrs.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Andy

    July 21, 2020 at 5:46 am

    If the independents break in large numbers for democrats, they have shot. 1/3 of the state are NPR . This is the case in many districts!!! However senator Farmer makes a great point , if you have limited $ you have to put it where you have the best chance.

    • Tracy

      July 22, 2020 at 1:13 am

      There is no such thing as limited money.

  • Just sayin'

    July 21, 2020 at 8:39 am

    Farmer’s right. But if there’s one thing you can count on the Florida Democratic Party to do, it’s to repeatedly and proudly shoot themselves in the foot. Over and over and over.

    • rob

      July 22, 2020 at 2:56 pm

      Thank God! There are no good, or intelligent demoRATS

  • Ken

    July 21, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    I am actually rather conservative and have never voted straight-ticket in my life…because it shows lack of forethought and effort to be informed. However, take heart, this election I may just vote straight D. The R party has so disenfranchised me politically with their hear-no-evil, see-no-evil stance on Trump (go Mitt) that I am sickened by it.

    • Harold Finch

      July 21, 2020 at 3:01 pm

      Dog, come on, get a grip!!!

    • jon

      July 22, 2020 at 3:01 pm

      Ok, so you like losing? You are the problem with RepubliCAN’S! You don’t stick together! You don’t play the same game demoRATS play! I get it, your intellection above demoRATS and are notoriously independent (see not sheep). But if the RepubliCAN voters don’t start to play like a team…. The demoRATS will always be able to take seats they did not earn legitimately!

      • Arsenic

        July 25, 2020 at 10:08 am

        Ya, we know the game you cons have been playing for 40 years. Lie to their constituents, act against the interest of the nation, reward their masters.
        Too bad none of that has anything to do with being a good American.
        Republican Sheep, following Dear Leaders off a cliff for 40 years.

  • Harold Finch

    July 21, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    After over four years of inept leadership in the Senate, they have finally got a brilliant, tactical and eloquent leader in Sen. Farmer. If they are smart enough to listen to him, which they probably are not, he will do a great job!!

    • Tracy

      July 22, 2020 at 1:18 am

      Do a great job? Farmer would rather have his Republican girlfriend, Heather Fitzenhagen in Senate than be the Majority Leader. I think it’s fine for them to have a thing going on but the Democratic Party shouldn’t have to pay and neither should the voters.

  • LongwoodRun

    July 21, 2020 at 10:05 pm

    Jacob–Really? Democrat leader? What’s that all about–Grammatically challenged or purposely dissonant?

  • Tracy

    July 22, 2020 at 1:28 am

    Hey Jacob! Nice piece. A few corrections… (I’m going to ignore the title misuse of Democratic and blame that on your editors.)

    “But the part irking candidates more was the fact Farmer made his remarks after a progressive movement to field Democrats in all but one legislative race this year (an improper check stopped a candidate from qualifying in House District 5).”

    It’s not a bad check, it’s a problem with notarization. The lawyers are on it. (This is not an uncommon occurrence.)

    The candidates weren’t flustered, they boldly stood up where no one stood up before. Farmer was flustered, for whatever reason. What was he doing arguing in the twitter replies in the first place? Yikes!

Comments are closed.


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